The triple jump, sometimes referred to as the hop, step and jump or the hop, skip and jump, is a track and field event, similar to the long jump. As a group, the two events are referred to as the "horizontal jumps." The competitor runs down the track and performs a hop, a bound and then a jump into the sand pit. The triple jump was inspired by the ancient Olympic Games and has been a modern Olympics event since the Games' inception in 1896.
How it works: Competitors sprint along a runway before taking off from a wooden board. The take-off foot absorbs the first landing, the hop. The next phase, the step, is finished on the opposite foot and then followed by a jump into a sandpit. The distance travelled, from the edge of the board to the closest indentation in the sand to it, is then measured. A foul is committed – and the jump is not measured – if an athlete steps beyond the board. Most championship competitions involve six jumps per competitor, although usually a number of them, those with the shorter marks, are often eliminated after three jumps. If competitors are tied, the athlete with the next best distance is declared the winner.
According to IAAF rules, "the hop shall be made so that an athlete lands first on the same foot as that from which he has taken off; in the step he shall land on the other foot, from which, subsequently, the jump is performed."
- Approach: The athlete sprints down a runway to a takeoff mark, from which the triple jump is measured. The takeoff mark is commonly a physical piece of wood or similar material embedded in the runway, or a rectangle painted on the runway surface. In modern championships a strip of plasticine, tape, or modeling clay is attached to the far edge of the board to record athletes overstepping or "scratching" the mark, defined by the trailing edge of the board.
- Hop: The hop begins with the athlete jumping from the take off board on one leg, which for descriptive purposes will be the right leg . The objective of the first phase is to hop out, focusing all momentum forward.
- Step: The hop landing also marks the beginning of the step phase, where the athlete utilises the backward momentum of the right leg to immediately execute a powerful jump forwards and upwards, the left leg assisting the take-off with a powerful hip flexion thrust.
- Jump: The step landing forms the beginning of the take-off of the final phase (the jump), where the athlete utilises the backward force from the left leg to take off again. The jump phase is very similar to the long jump although most athletes have lost too much speed by this time to manage a full hitch kick, and most use a hang or sail technique.
Foul: A "foul", also known as a "scratch," or missed jump, occurs when a jumper oversteps the takeoff mark, misses the pit entirely, does not use the correct foot sequence throughout the phases, or does not perform the attempt in the allotted amount of time (usually about 90 seconds). When a jumper "scratches," the seated official will raise a red flag and the jumper who was "on deck," or up next, prepares to jump. It shall not be considered a foul if an athlete, while jumping, should touch or scrape the ground with his/her "sleeping leg". Also called a "scrape foul", "sleeping leg" touch violations were ruled as fouls prior to the mid-1980s.