Without doubt, through sport a country can achieve fame and can compete in a fair manner with other countries. It’s maybe the only field in which countries compete with each other without a very big interference of politics. It’s a field where we don’t speak about big countries and small countries, in regular terms.

For the athletes representing their countries is a big honor and also a big responsibility.

“For everyone in the world of athletics that can not be a more extraordinary, a more fantastic moment than when you stand on the podium, in first place, and you know that you brought great happiness to those at home.”  These words belong to Iolanda Balas, the great Romanian high jumper.

Unfortunately, yesterday Associated Press announced her death at the age of 79. Daily Mail and ABC News are just a few who have picked up the story.

In this article I want to explain why her results are so great and why she will remain in the history of this sport forever.

What can you say about an athlete who had 140 consecutive wins, being unbeatable in every competition 10 years in a row? What can you say about an athlete who had a jump with more than 10 or even 14 centimeters higher than her challenger? What can you say about an athlete who is the best female high jumper not using the fosbury flop technique in the history?

The results speak for themselves. 

For those who don’t know what is a fosbury flop, I will try to explain it. Nowadays this is the only technique used to jump in high. Instead of jumping with his face towards the bar, bringing each leg over in the traditional straddle method, in the present, since 1968’s great jump of Fosbury at the Mexico Olympic Games, an athlete jumps with his back towards the bar. This technique improves the results, because it is easier to jump. In the traditional straddle method, the jumper had to apply enough force to lift his center of mass above the bar by a few centimeters in order to clear it. Using the fosbury flop, the jumper doesn’t have to do that, because the jumper can apply the same amount of force, but raise his body much higher than in the traditional straddle method, being able to jump higher with his arching body, even that his center of mass can not pass the bar.

Until 1968 the straddle method was the only technique used to jump in high and with this technique Iolanda Balas was the best in the history of this sport. Jumping 1,91 meters using the old method, this is why Iolanda Balas has a great spot in the history of athletism.

Here you can watch a short documentary about Iolanda Balas’ performances and you can watch her amazing jumps: