I've had the privilege of seeing some inspiring and inspired athletic performances over the past 10 years. At Southern Hills in the '77 U.S. Open, I watched Arnold Palmer birdie the 12th hole by sinking a chip shot. Arnie's Army went totally insane, and many of its members were in tears. I saw John Carlos run a 20-second 220—from the rear. I was in tears. I saw Lou Brock get his 3,000th hit. But by far the most memorable moment for me occurred that night in 1968. I'll never forget seeing the bottom of Beamon's spikes coming directly at me and then, somehow, floating on by and coming down to a world record.
When Beamon made his big leap at the Olympics, I felt as if I had a personal stake in the achievement. Whenever I hear people talk about the Jump, I get a bit of a smile on my face, remembering the night Beamon turned my agony to ecstasy.