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Monday, December 29, 2003
One for the books
Forty years ago, Phil Shinnick, then a sophomore at Washington, jumped farther than any man in history, soaring 27 feet, 4 inches in the long jump at the Modesto Relays in California.
"Normally," he said, "when you've done well, you feel good. I didn't feel good the next day, and I didn't feel good for 40 years."
Shinnick's world mark was never accepted because of a technicality. Officials had failed to turn on a wind gauge. There was considerable evidence that there was no wind when Shinnick jumped.
Shinnick, now a New York acupuncturist, is feeling better as this year ends. The governing body for track and field in the United States at a meeting earlier this month retroactively accepted his mark as an American record and passed it along to the world body, the IAAF, for acceptance as a world mark at the time.
If approved, it would slip historically between the records of Igor Ter-Ovanesyan and Ralph Boston.
Even with Boston and another former world-record holder, Lee Evans, at his side, Shinnick's initial appeal to USA Track in Greensboro, N.C., was dismissed by the rules committee.
At the urging of John Chaplin, former Washington State coach, the men's track-and-field committee called a special session to reconsider the mark.
"John said to me, 'I was there. I knew your mark was real. Everyone in the stadium knew it was real. I absolutely accept it, and apologize for what has happened,' " recalled Shinnick.
Shinnick said he might go to the World Indoor championships in Budapest in March to present his case to the IAAF.
"I feel like I've made the Olympic team again," said Shinnick, "but I still haven't jumped in the Olympic Games.
"I'd hate to think the decision to accept my record will be political, but after all these years I'm anxious and wary."
But still hopeful.
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