A history of the women’s long jump at the Commonwealth Games
England dominated the first event in London in 1934 with three of the first five which Phyllis Bartholomew won with 5.47m. Australia won in Sydney in 1938 through Dessie Norman, who finished the Games with five golds, also winning both sprints and both relays. She won with a top-class 5.80m from England’s Ethel Raby. The home wins continued in Auckland as victory went to Yvette Williams in wet conditions with 5.90m despite also losing a foot in distance by falling backwards. Williams was also a close second in the javelin.
Williams won Olympic gold in 1952 and then broke Fanny Blankers-Koen’s long-standing world record then retained her Commonwealth title in Vancouver with 6.08m. The superb all-rounder also won shot and discus gold., Northern Ireland’s high jump champion, Thelma Hopkins, was a distant second and European champion Jean Desforges was third.
England went one-two in Cardiff in 1958 through Sheila Parkin and young Mary Bignal, whose best day was six years ahead at the Tokyo Olympics. In Perth in 1962, Australia gained a unique top four, Pam Kilborn winning with a windy 6.27m on the day she also won hurdles gold. In Kingston in 1966, Kilborn again won the hurdles but was only seventh in the long jump as Olympic champion Rand won with 6.36m. Her team-mate Sheila Parkin was a close second.
As Mrs Sherwood, Parkin won Olympic silver in Mexico and then went one better in Edinburgh in 1970 as she won with a world-class 6.73m. Pentathlete Ann Wilson, who won two other medals in Scotland, was a clear second with a distance that would have won gold at the past seven Games Africa in this event and Ruth Sherwood was only seventh in Christchurch in 1974 as Nigerian
Pentathlon runner-up Modupe Oshikoya won the first title for Africa in this event and Ruth Martin-Jones picked up a surprise Welsh bronze.
Eight years after finishing fifth in the pentathlon, Sue Reeve won a hard-fought English gold in Edmonton in 1978. Her 6.59m put her just a centimetre ahead of Australian Erica Hooker. In 1982 in Brisbane, the Bahamas’ great Games got even better when Shonel Ferguson won with a windy but top-class 6.91m. Robyn Strong jumped 6.88m for silver with teenager Bev Kinch third for England with an excellent 6.78m.
The Bahamas were absent in 1986 in Edinburgh due to a boycott and a modest-standard competition was won by England’s expected third-string Joyce Oladapo with 6.43m. Heptathlon champion Jane Flemming won easily in 1990 in Auckland with 6.78m and England’s Fiona May finished third. The 1982 champion, Ferguson, finished sixth.
Flemming was only equal ninth in 1994 in Victoria, but Australia hung on to the title through Nicole Boegman, who had been eighth in her previous Games eight years earlier. Yinka Idowu kept England in Commonwealth Games the medals with a strong 6.73m to take silver while future Olympic heptathlon champion Denise Lewis finished eighth. Boegman, who married British distance runner Gary Staines, won bronze in 1998 in Kuala Lumpur in a tight but disappointing competition that saw the top four spread by just six centimetres and gold going to England’s Jo Wise.
Jamaica won their first title in 2002 in Manchester through Elva Goulbourne as Johnson won silver. In Melbourne in 2006, Australia was back in command with Bronwyn Thompson winning in a big Games record of 6.97m. The Olympic fourth placer won by a massive 40 centimetres from compatriot Kerrie Taurima as just three centimetres covered second to sixth, which included Johnson in fifth. The 2010 event in Delhi was a poor-quality contest and won by Canada’s Alice Falaiye in a modest 6.50m. There were 19 competitors and not a single Briton in action.
Gold medal winners
1934: Phyllis Bartholomew (ENG) 5.47
1938: Decima Norman (AUS) 5.80
1950: Yvette Williams (NZL) 5.90
1954: Yvette Williams (NZL) 6.08
1958: Sheila Hoskin (ENG) 6.02
1962: Pam Kilborn (AUS) 6.27w
1966: Mary Rand (ENG) 6.36
1970: Sheila Sherwood (ENG) 6.73
1974: Modupe Oshikoya (NGR) 6.46
1978: Sue Reeve (ENG) 6.59
1982: Shonel Ferguson (BAH) 6.91w
1986: Joyce Oladapo (ENG) 6.43
1990: Jane Flemming (AUS) 6.78
1994: Nicole Boegman (AUS) 6.82w
1998: Joanne Wise (ENG) 6.63
2002: Elva Goulbourne (JAM) 6.70
2006: Bronwyn Thompson (AUS) 6.97
2010: Alice Falaiye (CAN) 6.50
Gold: Bartholomew (Eng: 1934), Hoskin (Eng: 1958), Rand (Eng: 1966), Sherwood (Eng: 1970), Reeve (Eng: 1978), Oladapo (Eng:
1986), Wise (Eng: 1998)
Silver: Ethel Raby (Eng: 1938), Thelma Hopkins (NIr: 1954), Rand (as Bignal) (Eng: 1958), Sherwood (as Parkin) (Eng: 1966), Ann Wilson (Eng: 1970), Mary Berkeley (Eng: 1986), Yinka Idowu (Eng: 1994), Jade Johnson (Eng: 2002)
Bronze: Violet Webb (Eng: 1934), Jean Desforges (Eng: 1954), Ruth Martin-Jones (Wal: 1974), Bev Kinch (Eng: 1982), Fiona May (Eng: 1990)
Most successful athlete: New Zealand’s Yvette Williams is the only double champion.
Most successful Briton: Both Mary Rand and Sheila Sherwood won a gold and a silver, with Sherwood also having a fifth and seventh place to her credit.