High jump competitors must take off unaided from one foot and clear the 4-foot horizontal bar without knocking it to the ground. The athlete clearing the greatest height is deemed the winner of the event.
Jumpers utilize a runway at least 15 meters long and may place two markers along the runway to aid in the timing of their leap.
In the event, men and women compete in qualifying rounds, with the top finishers earning spots in the finals. Each competitor has up to three attempts to clear each height; three consecutive failures at any height or combination of heights eliminates the participant from competition.
If participants are tied at the same height, the one with the least failures at that height is declared the winner. If there is still a tie, the one with the least failures across the entire competition prevails. A 'jump-off' serves as the final tiebreaker in determining the champion.
Originating in early 19th-century Scotland, the event made its modern Olympic Games debut in 1896. As of 2014, the world record in the event is 7 feet, 11.67 inches, set by Cuban Javier Sotomayor in 1993. The women's record of 6 feet, 10.25 inches was set by Bulgaria's Stefka Kostadinova in 1987.