And he did, leaping 28'2¼" on his second try. Powell, however, didn't let Lewis savor the lead. He came right back with a jump of 28'3¾". Lewis jumped 28'2¾" and 28'¼" on his third and fifth attempts, respectively.
Before his last attempt, Lewis pulled his socks up and stood at the top of the runway with his head bowed. The crowd made no sound. He ran his right hand over his hair. Then he ran. When he landed, Lewis raised his hands to the crowd. It would be close. The mark showed up: 8.64 meters. He had edged Powell by one centimeter, the narrowest measurement the sport recognizes. That translates to 28'4¼". Lewis stood in the middle of the runway, lifted both palms wide and then fell backward. The fans loved it.
But they seemed to love Powell—or at least his role as scrappy underdog—even more. They clapped rhythmically, sending him down the runway on his final jump. He landed and looked and knew he had not gone far enough: 27'11½". Powell pounded the ground and held his head in his hands. "Like a cat, I have nine lives," said Lewis. "But I think I've used eight of them up."