This Day in History: Zhu Jianhua Sets High Jump World Record

By Ned Kelly, June 11, 2022

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On June 11, 1983 Shanghai-born high jumper Zhu Jianhua cleared 2.37 m at a meet in Beijing, setting a new world record. 

He would go on to beat his own record twice, reaching 2.38 and then 2.39 m, the latter on June 10, 1984 at a meet in West Germany, in the build up to the Los Angeles Olympics. For whatever reason, he could not repeat that form on the greatest stage, coming third, just as he had at the inaugural World Championships in Helsinki a year earlier. 

The bronze was the first track and field medal awarded to a Chinese athlete in Olympic history, however, and to this day he and Liu Xiang, who won the 110 m hurdles gold in Athens 2004, are among just a handful of male athletes to have managed the feat. 

Zhu’s world record stood until August 11, 1985, when Rudolf Povarnitsyn of the Soviet Union beat it by one centimeter. His Asian Games jump of 2.33 meters in 1982 remained all the way up to 2014, when it was beaten by Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar with a jump of 2.35 meters. 

In May 2008 Zhu was chosen to run the 300 meters of red carpet to light the Olympic cauldron and end the Shanghai portion of the Olympic Torch Relay. Even in his 50s, he remained engaged in sports development and was committed to fostering young athletes.


For more This Day in History stories, click here.

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