He bends his torso back and stretches his hips forward.

His right arm up, his hand almost in front of his face.

The arm falls down to the ground like a wave breaking and releasing the energy.

He sprints, flies, lands in the sand.

Long jump.

Stefanie Sippel

Sports editor.

  • Follow I follow

He bends his torso back, arm up, arm down, sprinting around the curve.

His two hands meet briefly, a fleeting movement.

The arms next to the body, up to the sky.

It flies over the bar, it lands on the mat.

High jump.

Sprint or hurdles?

Hammer or discus?

Long jump or high jump?

If you want to be among the best in the world, you have to make a decision.

In fact.

JuVaughn Harrison doesn't want to choose.

As an athlete for the LSU Tigers and Ladytigers, an American university team he was on until recently, okay.

But at the Olympics?

Harrison is 22 years old and six feet tall.

He has been the first athlete to compete for the United States in these two disciplines in 109 years.

"I have no preference"

His schedule for the Olympic Games: high jump qualification this Friday, long jump qualification on Saturday.

Final in the high jump on Sunday, in Tokyo in the evening.

The long jump final on Monday morning.

"I take a shower in the evening and then I can sleep," Harrison says on a podcast.

When he speaks, he appears to have gone through all of these scenarios a hundred times in his head. His gaze remains fixed. Not even for a brief moment does an insecure glimmer brush his face. Harrison knows he's different. When asked which discipline he prefers, he only smiles mildly. “I have no preference. It's like having to choose between two children. "

It was different in 2017 when he started his studies at Louisiana State University. Harrison joined the athletics team because of his high jump performance. For a change he sometimes jumped wide instead of high. Long jumpers are fast sprinters, and quite a few run in the relay. The jump and jumping technique of both disciplines are different. To perfect two movements on such a high level is unusual. “Jumping horizontally and vertically as a jumper is very challenging. Staying strong in both is a big job. But I know it's possible for me - that keeps me going, ”says Harrison.

Harrison lived on campus with Mondo Duplantis, the world record holder in the pole vault.

In 2018, Duplantis and his two other roommates, Damion Thomas, hurdler, and Jake Norris, hammer thrower, won gold at the U-20 World Cup in Tampere, Finland.

During an interview in the stadium back then, he wears a blue tracksuit, a backpack and two gold necklaces.

Wrinkles around his mouth, he presses his lips together.

“I didn't make it to the final,” he says after the long jump.

Three days later.

He runs his tongue over his lips, smiles.

“It's the first time I've won a medal, I'm very happy.” Bronze for Harrison in the high jump.

Self-confidence boosters

His coach Todd Lane quipped that he couldn't hang his medals next to others' gold medals. Lane told The Advocate, a local Louisiana newspaper, “It was a confidence booster. It showed him that he can do it on the big stage. ”Nobody expected that the stage would be so big: A year earlier, in his first year of study, his performance was not constant, in the big meetings he was able to do it Not always calling up heights. “It didn't click,” says Harrison.

Athletes work for years to improve their run-up, take-off and landing.

Harrison has to work in parallel.

Because he has mastered both disciplines, he has already been compared with the sports all-rounder Jim Thorpe.

Thorpe won the pentathlon and the decathlon in Stockholm in 1912.

He later became a legend and tragic hero as a football player.

His gold medals were stripped of his after the International Olympic Committee found that Thorpe had previously played baseball for a short time.

Forget the confetti parade that celebrated it in New York.

Two in one

Harrison is not that far yet.

But he has already unhinged some personal bests.

He is the first man in history who can jump 8.40 meters and 2.30 meters high.

In videos on Youtube and in newspapers he is called “Mr.

Jumps "called.

Who, if not him, could bear that name?

Some jump further, others higher, such as his old roommate Duplantis - but none of them combines two jumping disciplines in one person.

The national press has so far paid little attention to Harrison, he has become a small phenomenon on YouTube.

“This is getting ridiculous” is the title of a video.

On the first picture of another video a huge: “HOW ?!” How does he do it?

In 2019, Harrison won the high jump and long jump in the NCAA championships. In March of the following year: the same in the hall. In mid-June, again outdoors: again. He also won both disciplines in 2021. US Olympic Trials, June this year, qualifying competitions for the Olympic Games. Last day, Harrison flies over the bar: eight feet, gold. Harrison jumps in the sand: eight feet, gold. Best performance in long jump. Harrison announces: he will become a professional athlete and will leave LSU. At the Olympic Games he will probably have no chance of winning. But he is sure: "No matter what happens, I will always do both."