Willie Banks has donated to the World Athletics Heritage Collection the singlet and bib number he wore in 1985 when he set a world record for the triple jump that lasted a decade.
Banks, competing at the United States Championships in Indianapolis on June 16, bounded out to 17.97 metres in the second round to add eight centimetres to the record Brazil’s Joao Carlos de Oliveira had established 10 years before when winning the Pan American Games.
Banks’ world record would similarly last until surpassed by one centimetre by Britain's Jonathan Edwards in Salamanca in 1995.
“I knew that I was going to break the record before I did it,” Banks said.
“I told my friend Lee Balkin, a high jumper.
“I also told one of my triple jump competitors and a judge at the triple jump board.
“I knew because a special feeling came over me while I was trying to stay loose for my next jump.
“I closed my eyes and watched myself do the triple jump.
“I realised that God had sent me a sign that I was going to break the record and that belief carried me to 17.97m.”
Along with the donated singlet and number, the Heritage Collection has been given a bag of sand which Banks took from the pit after the competition.
It was a surprise to Banks that the mark he set that day lasted so long as a world record.
“Actually, I thought I would break it again soon afterwards,” he said.
“It was a little frustrating not to be able to jump over 18 metres and I really wanted to be the first to break that barrier.
“My favourite number was always 3.
“I am William Augustus Banks III; I was born in March, the third month of the year; and I was a triple jumper!
“Why, then, did I miss my mark by three centimetres!?
“My Achilles bled… I could not train properly.”
Banks did actually also jump 18.06m and 18.20m that day but the performances were ruled out for record purposes due to the strong following wind of more than two metres per second.
“I truly thought that I could jump over 18m,” Banks said.
“After that day in 1988, my Achilles in both legs bled through to the sheath and attached itself. I could not train properly for the rest of my career.
“I had three surgeries, but none helped.
“It was quite a let down from a glorious career.
“Fortunately, I am still able to look back and be proud that I was the first human ever to surpass 18 metres in any condition.
“All I can say is I am blessed.”
Banks was one of the most exuberant performers on the international circuit during the 1980s and a popular competitor around the world.
He encouraged spectators to rhythmically clap him down the runway, which transformed the atmosphere at track meetings for the good.
Banks’ record at major international championships does not reflect his immense talent.
His most noteworthy performance was winning a silver medal at the inaugural International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships in Helsinki in 1983.
That performance was achieved on August 8, an anniversary which today’s donation announcement commemorates.
Bank is now a member of the World Athletics Council.
“Soon after being elected to the Council in Doha last September, I visited the Heritage World Championships Exhibition in the city,” he said.
“It was at that moment that I realised how fortunate we are to have a programme which is protecting, promoting, and enhancing our sport’s heritage.
“That is why I decided to play my part and make this donation.”
Other athletes to have donated their kit to World Athletics Heritage Collection include New Zealand’s 1976 Olympic 1500 metres gold medallist and former world record for the mile John Walker, the US’ double Olympic triple jump champion and four-time World Championship gold medallist Christian Taylor and America’s world 200m champion Noah Lyles.