Again the bar moved up, and up, finally to be placed at 7'7�". Both men missed twice. Monaghan beckoned Jacobs to his side. "Your last two jumps were beautiful," the coach said, "but you have to move back another two feet. And plant that foot hard. Real hard."
Deep in concentration, Jacobs was the first to take his final try. He stared at the floor. "I never look at the bar," he said later. "I know I'll get over it. I just don't want to look up at it. All my life I've been looking up at things."
Neither did he look to his left at Stones, who was watching Jacobs intently, if perhaps incredulously.
"He'll make it," Stones was thinking. "His last two jumps were too close for him to miss a third time. Oh, Lord, his form is terrible, and if he makes a world record he'll set high jumping back 20 years."
Jacobs began his run. He calls his style the Jacobs Slop, as opposed to the Fosbury Flop. His vertical leap is remarkable, and once he reaches his highest point he seems to rip off his arms and legs and hurl them across the bar. He says he explodes across the bar; he's right—it's like watching a grenade go off. This time as he exploded he was above the bar. When he came down, in pieces, the record was his.
Stones' last try was esthetic but unsuccessful—a poem begun by Byron but finished by a bricklayer. The bar clanked down. "I was better off with Joy holding the record," he said. "Now I'm not even the American record holder."
From his seat under the stands, Jacobs was describing his record leap. "I planted my foot faster, and when you plant faster you go higher. But it's no surprise: I planned it and I'd seen it before I ever got here. I enjoyed it before I got here. It's like I was thinking as I flew over the bar: ' Franklin, you did it just like you told me you would.' "
Nearby, Dick Buerkle stopped and stared at Jacobs. Shaking his head, the miler said, "What do you think of this guy? He jumped two feet over his head. Two feet! He's got to be crazy."
Crazy. That's the word some used when Buerkle, after a career of running 5,000s and 10,000s and then a year of self-imposed exile from competition, announced not long ago that he was coming back—as a 30-year-old miler. He quit racing after the Montreal Olympics, where he had finished ninth in a 5,000-meter heat. From there he went home to Buffalo to sell contact lenses.
"But I started training again," he said. "I've always wondered how fast I could run the mile. There was only one way to find out."