Partyka missed his first, making the bar look impossibly high. Austin readied himself and ran with his slow, bounding approach that is all power. He popped into the air, lay long over the bar, lifted his heels and cleared.
The roar that ensued seemed almost like trumpets, announcing the return of something that has been gone for years. This was the sound that swirled around Wilma Rudolph or Bob Hayes or Bruce Jenner, and it almost escorted Austin—after Partyka had gone out—over a world-record 8'¾" on his third try at that height. "I never felt anything like it before," said Austin, dazed. "I'm sure I never will again."
When the cheering died away at last, you looked up and suddenly it was night, with a full moon, and here was Donovan Bailey drinking it all in. It was the day after his world record, and he was being expansive, for him. "Yeah, we celebrated," he said. "Somebody had Cuban cigars. I had a puff. I still have this nasty taste in my mouth."
It will fade. But the achievement, the achievement, will linger on like an old sweet song, and surely keep Georgia on the mind.