After fouling on his fifth attempt, Lewis prepared for his sixth and final try. He has gained six pounds on his 6'2" frame in the last year—"all strength," he says—and 25 since going to Houston as a 150-pound freshman; he no longer appears so fragile and light-stepping on his run-up. Now he charges down the runway, arms churning powerfully.
On his last jump Lewis barreled down the right side of the runway. He again drifted to the right, but he also soared so far that he skinned his knee on the back wall of the pit upon landing. At once a roar went up from the crowd—as did a red flag in the hand of an official standing by the takeoff board. Lewis had fouled by less than an inch. A moment later came the stunning P.A. announcement: "The approximation on Carl Lewis' last jump...28 feet, 10 inches." That was achieved with a negligible following wind. "Today proved that wind isn't an important factor, but, more important, altitude isn't either," said Lewis, referring to his pursuit of Beamon's high-altitude, "untouchable" record set in Mexico City in 1968. As Banks might say, the case has been made; Lewis' pursuit of the 100 and long-jump records—two of the oldest in track and field—can no longer be called quixotic.