AP PHOTOS: Olympic jumpers return to Earth in spray of sand

TOKYO -- Every Olympic athlete who soars to the heavens as part of the “Faster, Higher, Stronger — Together” ideal eventually comes down.

A soft and sandy landing pit awaits the long jumpers and triple jumpers at the Olympic Stadium at the Tokyo Games.

And it’s always a moment of uncertainty — “How far did I go?” — as the jumpers stretch, contort and grimace while reaching for that extra centimeter in a gritty quest for a medal, or even an Olympic or world record.

These Associated Press photos capture the tension of the moment as the athletes return to Earth in a spray of sand that can leave them half buried.

The overhead photographs were taken with a robotic camera that uses remote viewing monitors and a joystick similar to a video game. The head-on shots were taken by AP photographers using hand-held cameras.