Mike Powell

099: Mike Powell on records, rivalry and resilience

This week’s guest is one of the most outstanding athletes ever, Mike Powell. Mike has held the long jump world record for the last 30 years, taking the mark from the legendary Bob Beamon – who held it himself for 23  years. The record stands at 8.95 m or in old money 29 feet 4 and a bit inches. When I do keynote speeches, one of my favourite things to do is to measure out Mike’s record just to illustrate some of the extraordinary feats elite athletes are capable of and it never, never fails to amaze me or an audience. Mike broke the record at the Tokyo World Championship in one of the most tumultuous tussles with the equally legendary athlete Carl Lewis, having played second fiddle to Carl for so many years.

In the conversation Mike describes in such a colourful and engaging way how he went about pursuing the title, using Carl as a motivator, how he tapped into a coach that could take him to another level, how he harnessed sports psychology long before it was common place.

If you can take a look at the youtube link in the below of the competition either as a reminder or to soak up for the first time what I would describe as one of the best head to head sporting competitions of all-time.

Tokyo World Championship final https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0WfsAwvTSU

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  • The long jump record was a turning point in Mike’s life
  • Mike Foul!
  • Using fuel between Carl Lewis and himself as competition
  • Stoking of aggression in order to fuel performance
  • Visualisation with a sport psychologist
  • Mike Powell’s coach Randy Huntington and his training methods
  • Breaking the World Record but Carl had 2 jumps left and he ALWAYS came back
  • What was it like experiencing the peak of his performance?
  • Mike’s prediction!
  • Adjusting to fame and the downsides
  • Mike’s pearls of wisdom
  • Being lean and strong is the key!


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