Marquis Dendy Sets Long Jump World Lead, Fires Back at Carl Lewis

PORTLAND, Ore. — After a week that included nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis calling out the long jump as “the worst event in the world right now,” Marquis Dendy answered that statement with an improvement on his world lead to take the victory at the USATF Indoor Championships. 

Dendy secured the victory Friday at the Oregon Convention Center after jumping a massive personal best of 8.41m at the USA Indoors. The mark improved upon his standing world-leading mark of 8.38m (27.5 ft.), and was the final step on his way to competing at the World Indoor Championships next weekend. 

At the USOC Media Summit in support of the Los Angeles 2024 Olympic bid, Lewis let loose on a number of topics regarding the state of the sport, including the men’s long jump, an event where he won four Olympic gold medals. 

"Do you want to go and see someone jump 26 feet?” Lewis asked. “They don't know how to jump. And they're not trying to because they're winning medals anyway. If I jumped 26 feet I'd walk away and say, 'Don't measure that, make it a foul.' Have a standard. You don't go to the Olympics for a medal. You go for the distance. People want to go and get a medal for jumping 26 feet? Come on.”

Dendy, a four-time NCAA Champion in the long jump and a World Championships qualifier, contested Lewis’ statements on March 9 when he tweeted at the Olympic legend.

Lewis responded that he meant “the event as a whole.”

After the competition in Portland, Dendy was asked if the exchange with Lewis affected his performance on Friday. 

“I feel as though that coming out of college I had a great season, even despite Beijing and even coming into indoor I’ve had a great season so I mean, if you’re going to say one thing, at least give recognition. I feel like he was just bashing everybody,” Dendy told FloTrack.

“We had a talk after that, and he was just saying, ‘don’t take it personally I was just saying that as a whole I want people to step up,’ and I was like, ‘I understand that.’ It could’ve been handled a little better, but it’s Carl Lewis,” he said. 

When asked if the comments inspired him to perform above and beyond on Friday, Dendy admitted that he was fired up. 

“I kind of let that take me out on the field today,” he said. “I was just telling myself I can’t let people talk about the sport….I kind of went out there and let it all out and it ended up being a world-leading jump and I still got more room to improve.”

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