July 29, 1996 – At 35, Carl Lewis was more like 350 in long jump years, someone with a pension who should have been in the broadcast booth or watching from the stands. Though he was still admired around the world for his previous Olympic triumphs, he had barely managed to qualify for the U.S. team in the long jump and most experts believed he’d be lucky to medal, let alone win another gold.
Going into the last of his three jumps, Lewis trailed Emmanuel Bangue of France and his leading jump of 26’ 10 ½" by two inches. Lewis took off cleanly after a smooth sprint and landed face down, but knowing instinctively that the jump had secured him first place, he quickly got to his feet and raised his arms in triumph. Lewis flew 27'10 3/4", his best jump since the Barcelona Olympics four years earlier. The leap landed him has his fourth consecutive gold in the same event – an honor shared only with discus thrower Al Oeter – and the ninth gold medal of his career.