Two more years fled by. I finished my studies at the institute and went on studying as a graduate student. I think I was growing more serious. This may sound rather dubious—would a serious man devote all his time to the broad jump? Why?
After I married, my life became fuller. My wife's name is Margarita. She is a painter and she loves tennis. I found a real friend in her and it became easier for me to organize my practice while continuing to study. When I was a youth I liked drawing; yet with the years that small spark had never become a flame. But, today, if only you could see our walls! Sometimes we have exhibits for our friends. In one room are pictures painted by my wife; in the other, which is smaller, are mine. All our experiences, all our wishes are written down in a special book. In general, like the majority of our people, we love our ballet, we like your Van Cliburn, we love all living and interesting things. But most of all, I love sport. I love it for its creative power. I love it for its independence. I love it for its cleanliness.
Now, a few words about my record—27 feet 3 inches.
This result didn't take me by surprise. I was jumping on June 10 in Erevan, Armenia, my home town. The competition was organized for the prize named after Aikaz Safarian, the former Armenian record holder in the broad jump.
It was snowing in the mountains, cold, with a strong wind blowing. But I was in luck. On the day of the meet, everything changed; the heat was really Californian.
The jumps were to take place at 6:45 in the morning. I began to warm up at 5:40 on the practice field, where there were very few people. I like to warm up in solitude. In that way one concentrates better. I came out on the field ready for competition; angry, but collected. I was scheduled to be the second jumper.
My first jump seemed easy, and I did 26 feet 734 inches. Immediately I understood I must do it now, I can. I took an extra step on the approach and dashed forward, lifting my knees very high. I landed with a sidewise fall to the right and I thought I had failed.
When I got out of the pit and looked, the referee was measuring the jump. I came to him and waited. And he, suddenly, without lifting his head, said, very low, as if he were afraid to talk, in a voice thet seemed loud only to me, "Eight thirty-one." And I, also very calmly, a bit astounded (Is that all, is it true, has it really happened, is it that simple?) threw up my hands.
It is easy to guess how the crowd greeted me, especially if you take into account the fact that I am an Armenian and that I had broken the world record there, in Armenia. I was carried from the stadium on the shoulders of the people.
My records grew from 19 feet 8¼ inches when I began in 1952 to 27 feet 3 inches this year. Bearing these results in mind, I came to believe in the unlimited possibilities of human progress. If man can conquer the cosmos, surely he can broad jump 28 feet.