Ray Ewry

Article

October 20, 2021

Raymond "Ray" Clarence Ewry (Lafayette, October 14, 1873 - New York, September 29, 1937) was an American altist, long-distance player and triplist. Specialized in the suppressed disciplines of high jump, long jump and triple standing jump, he is with eight Olympic gold medals won between 1900 and 1908 one of the athletes with the highest number of Olympic medals. Because of his ability to jump from a standing position, he was nicknamed the human frog.

Biography

The disease

During his teens, Ray Ewry suffered from polio. The doctors' diagnosis was merciless: the boy would never walk again, and he would spend his life in a wheelchair. Ewry did not give up, and decided to try every effort to overcome the disease. He engaged in a daily exercise program of his own invention to regain strength in his legs. He was a forerunner of isometric gymnastics, based on the contraction of muscles without movement. His efforts and his dedication were amply repaid: he not only went back to walking, contradicting the gloomy predictions of the doctors, but even gave himself up to sports.

Standing jumps

Thanks to the intense rehabilitation work, Ewry had developed extraordinary power in his legs. Among the various specialties of athletics, those in which he could make the most of this talent were standing jumps. At the time, high jump from standing, long jump from standing and triple jump from standing were practiced. The athletes, standing, took the leap without any run-up. Apart from this characteristic, the three disciplines were very similar to the high jump, long or triple jump practiced today. Ray Ewry was the greatest interpreter of standing jumps. His personal records were: high jump from standing: 1.65 m long jump from standing: 3.47 m triple standing jump: 10.58mHis 3.47m long standing jump was still the world record in 1938, when the specialty was abolished.

The Olympics

In 1897 Ray Ewry, after finishing university, moved to New York to work as a hydraulic engineer. In the metropolis he discovered a strong interest in the Olympic Games, which had just been restored the year before in Athens. He joined an athletics club, determined to participate in the next edition of the Games. Ewry's first Olympic participation was in 1900 in Paris. The three standing jump competitions (long, high and triple) all took place on the same day, 10 July. Ewry competed first in the long, where he won with the 3.21m measurement. He also won the triple jump with 10.58m. Finally, he also won the high, making it the world record with 1.65 m. The French audience was amazed by his performance and renamed him "the human frog". He confirmed himself as Olympic champion of all three disciplines also in the subsequent 1904 Olympics. He won the high with the measure of 1.60 m and the triple with 10.54 m. In the long run he also managed to improve himself, and to the victory he added the world record with 3.47 m, which was never exceeded in the whole history of the long jump from standing. Ewry also participated in the Intermediate Olympic Games, an event organized to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the I Olympiad of 1896, but not included in the official chronology of the Olympics. He won two races, the high (1.56m) and the long (3.30m). His other specialty, the triple jump, had been eliminated from the Games program. In 1908, Ewry, who was already thirty-four, won two more golds, in the long (3.33m) and high (1.57m). That was his last Olympic participation. He continued to compete in the following years as well, and attempted to qualify for the 1912 Olympics, but without success. After that Olympics, standing jumps were excluded from the Olympic program. Ewry continued to work as an engineer. Should he also take into account the results of the Olympics "no offices

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