Jonathan Edwards

1966 -

Triple Jumper Supreme

Mosaic - Shannon Ridd & Jonathan Rodney-Jones - 2002
Ilfracombe sea-front, Devon

Rings of stones in mosaic, spaced apart and embedded in a lawned area, stretch out like large footprints towards the sea at Ilfracombe in Devon. From a start line to the farthest stone ring measures over 60 feet in length. It is, astonishingly, the length of a triple jump - still a world record - made in 1995 by locally-born Jonathan Edwards.

Son of a local vicar, Edwards went to school nearby where his athletic talents were soon noted. A world-class future beckoned. 1995 was his breakthrough year. His speed and skill reached their sensational peak at the World Championships in Gothenburg. An early jump smashed the world record with a leap over 18 metres. The record lasted barely 20 minutes as Edwards broke it again with his next attempt - that soaring hop, jump and leap of 18.29 metres, over 60 feet, the first in the world to pass that mark. 

Edwards won all 14 competitions he entered in that glorious year. He had extended the boundaries of his event. From a relatively unknown athlete at the beginning of the year, he was now a world sporting star. “It’s been a remarkable time for an ordinary, skinny little guy who jumps into a sandpit for a living.”

At one point in 2002, he was reigning gold medal winner at the Olympics, World Championships, Commonwealth Games and European Championships. He retired in 2003, one of Britain’s most successful medal-winning athletes of the modern era. Now, in Ilfracombe, this imaginative and attractive memorial stretches out on the sea-front, commissioned by the proud local authority of his birth-town. It celebrates an extraordinary athletic moment. It is a world record which, more than a generation of athletes later, still shows no sign of being beaten.