Dear Jonathan Edwards

Glamorous sprinters? Passe. Brave long-distance runners? Boring. No, the hop, skip and jump is now the hip standard-bearer of sport's true values
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The Independent Online
Congratulations on your world record-breaking Gothenburg Gold in the Triple Jump. Great jump. Lovely hop. Top skip. 18.16 metres first time, which was a record in itself. And then you went for it again and landed way out beyond the pit-side ruler at 18.29. The people in the front rows of the stands directly ahead of you must have been flinching in their seats. It was a fantastic sight.

I suspect most of us were expecting to get excited about the track, and not the field, events - let alone a left-field event, such as yours. For glamour and excitement, we were looking to the sprinters (muscular, frenzied), the long distance types (lean, existential). Failing that, there were the people who throw things - hammers, cannonballs, spears and so forth. Plenty to relate to there. Whereas dancing into a sandpit ... I'm not sure that many of us had put a ring around this one in the Radio Times.

But this is how it worked out: Linford left the stadium in an ambulance and you are Britain's Mr Sport.

Nobody could argue that the event to which you have dedicated years of your life is an easy one. Odd, yes; but not easy. In a scene duplicated, I imagine, in workplaces across Britain, we've been trying out the manoeuvre all morning here in the office and I have to say, it's a darned sight harder than you make it look. You managed to fling yourself the length of six Minis, parked toe-to-tail. My own personal best would barely have got me from the driver's seat into the passenger's seat in a Reliant Robin.

Obviously, we're all buzzing about it now but, to be frank, I don't know how long triple-jump fever will last. There is, though, an opportunity for you which needs to be seized fast - a gentle, teacherly role that may appeal to you.

You are the son of a Church of England vicar, a former lay preacher, and are a member of a Baptist church. You have spoken of Sundays as "a waterhole in the week, spiritually and physically" and until you cleared it with your conscience in 1993, you refused to compete on that day on the grounds that if gambling was not a fit recreation for the Sabbath, neither was gamboling. Indeed, you said: "I believe the world is consumed by Satan and it's important to shine forth with the light."

Well, here's your chance to go full-beam. The world of sport is consumed, if not by Satan, then certainly by Nike and the people responsible for TV franchises. They have whooped sport up as never before. Thanks to their hyping, sport has never looked more brutal, more money-driven. This alienates many of us, who need a new figurehead to put us back in touch with sport's simple verities. Among the myriad endorsement opportunities your fame will bring, one stands out. You could endorse plimsols. You could stand up for the straightforward pleasures and foster a quietly proud sporting nation, second to none in kite-flying, Twister and crazy golf.

It would be one small step for you, but a whole hop, skip and a jump for the rest of us. Shine forth!

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