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World Athletics proposes controversial change to long jump event

World Athletics proposes controversial change to long jump event

World Athletics will try a new format for the long jump this year in a bid to reduce the number of fouls in competition – but the idea to change the long-standing event has received plenty of criticism.

Data from last year’s World Championships in Budapest revealed that a third of attempts ended in no-jumps as competitors try to push the limits of the board, and it is something World Athletics believes takes away from the entertainment of the event.

World Athletics CEO Jon Ridgeon told the Anything but Footy podcast that the new format would see all jumps legalised so long as they took off from a new “jump zone”. The distance would then be measured from wherever that take-off occurred.

The proposal would likely see greater distances achieved, but at the same time the sport would be open to accusations of reducing the skill level required as athletes would no longer need to perfect the timing of their run-up.

“We’ll measure from where the athlete takes off to where they land in the pit,” Ridgeon said. “That means every single jump counts. It adds to the jeopardy and drama in the competition.

“We’ll spend this year testing it in real life circumstances with very good athletes. If it doesn’t pass testing, we’ll never introduce it. At the same time we’re working out ways we can get instant results so you don’t have to wait 20-30 seconds before the result pops up.”

Carl Lewis, the legendary American long jumper turned coach, was critical of the plans on social media, tweeting: “You’re supposed to wait until April 1st for April Fools jokes.”

He added: “I guess it supports what I’ve been saying, that the long jump is the most difficult event in track and field. That would just eliminate the most difficult skill from the event. Just make the basket larger for free throws because so many people miss them. What do you think?”

The plan is part of a wider push by World Athletics to modernise the sport and boost dwindling audiences.

Ridgeon accepted that the plan was likely to face some negative feedback. “You cannot make change in a sport that was basically invented 150 years ago without some controversy,” he said. “If you have dedicated your life to hitting that take-off board perfectly and then suddenly we replace it with a take-off zone, I totally get that there might be initial resistance.

“We will spend this year testing it in real life circumstances with very good athletes. If it doesn’t pass testing, we will never introduce it. We are not going to introduce things on a whim. We really want to spend the next two years thoroughly working them through. This is not about next year, but making sure we have got a sport that is fit for purpose for another 150 years.”

Comments on social media suggested athletics fans were largely in agreement with Lewis about the problems with the proposal, which would take away a critical skill of the jump disciplines.

Source: independent.co.uk

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