AT A GLANCE / NOVEMBER 2019

Illustration: Shyam G Menon

Steeplechase, discus, triple jump – not glittering enough for Diamond League

Among the most grueling track disciplines out there, the 3000m steeplechase won’t feature in the 2020 IAAF Diamond League final.  Other disciplines in similar situation include discus throw and triple jump.

This follows the largest consumer survey by the League, which found that the top three most popular disciplines in the Diamond League are the 100m, long jump and high jump followed by pole vault, the 200m and 400m.  “ Popularity of athletes, head-to-head competitions and excitement of the individual competition were cited as reasons for the choice of the most popular events in the largest consumer survey into the disciplines hosted in the IAAF Diamond League. Representative online research carried out in China, France, South Africa and the USA; post-event surveys in Belgium, Great Britain and Switzerland and click-throughs on Diamond League social media videos during 2019 helped guide the Diamond League General Assembly, made up of all meeting directors, to decide which disciplines will be part of 2020 season,’’ an official statement dated November 6, 2019, available on the website of International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), said.

According to it, as a result of the research, and the decision taken earlier in the year that only 24 disciplines (12 male / 12 female) will form the core disciplines at all meetings, eight disciplines (4 male and 4 female) will not be contested during the 2020 Diamond League season. These disciplines are the discus, triple jump and 3000m steeplechase – three events that currently sit towards the bottom of the research conducted – and the 200m, which the Diamond League organizers felt would be too congested alongside the 100m, particularly in an Olympic Games year.

Following a detailed review of the schedule for the 90-minute broadcast window of the Diamond League, both the 200m and the 3000m steeplechase will be included in 10 meetings (5 male and 5 female) in the 2020 Diamond League season, including Oslo, Rome, and Doha. Two meetings will also feature discus and triple jump (1 female and 1 male). However, none of the four disciplines will feature in the Diamond League Final in 2020, the statement said.

“ Our objective is to create a faster-paced, more exciting global league that will be the showcase for our sport. A league that broadcasters want to show and fans want to watch. However, we understand the disappointment of those athletes in the disciplines not part of the 2020 Diamond League season,’’ the statement quoted IAAF Diamond League Chairman Sebastian Coe, as saying.

“ We want to thank the 10 Diamond League meetings which have found a way to include the 200m or the 3000m steeplechase (male and female) during the 2020 season and the four meetings hosting a discus competition or a triple jump competition. The Continental Tour, an enhanced global series of one-day meetings supporting the Diamond League, will integrate these eight disciplines to ensure athletes get opportunities to compete extensively and earn prize money. We will also work more closely with the athletes in these eight disciplines to help promote them and their events,’’ Coe added.

The highest scoring athlete in each of the eight disciplines named above will win a wild card into the World Championships. All disciplines will be reviewed at the end of the 2020 Diamond League season and decisions on the 24 disciplines for 2021 agreed.

Illustration: Shyam G Menon

The full list of events in each Diamond League meeting will be released shortly. All meetings also have the opportunity to feature additional disciplines outside the 90-minute international broadcast window to cater to their domestic fans and athletics, which will be carried by domestic broadcasters. All meetings, including the final in Zurich, are also looking at innovation around disciplines that can be taken into city centers to attract new fans to the sport.

Details of the Continental Tour will be released later this month.

According to the statement, Diamond League disciplines 2020 (12 male and 12 female) are 100m, 100m/110m hurdles, 400m, 400m hurdles, 800m, 1500m, 3000m, long jump, high jump, pole vault, javelin and shot put.

Earlier this year the General Assembly, made up of all the Diamond League Meeting Directors, had agreed to bring together the very best one-day meetings in a high quality annual international circuit which gives athletes a compelling and rewarding reason to compete; a more consistent, action packed format for broadcasters; and provides fans with a persuasive reason to come back to the sport week in and week out to follow the star athletes as they gain points to qualify for an exciting end of season-final. At the General Assembly on 21 October it was agreed that 14 meetings and a final will make up the 2020 season, rather than the 12 plus a final originally envisaged, given the significant improvement that all meetings had achieved over the past two years and the signing of a title sponsor Wanda Sports, the largest sponsorship in athletics’ history.

Kenyan athletes disappointed

On November 8, the media reported that current world champions in the 3000m steeplechase, Kenya’s Conseslus Kipruto and Beatrice Chipkoech, have expressed disappointment in the Diamond League’s decision. They said that the move could affect their career. At the Olympics, Kenya has been the most successful nation in steeplechase.

New world record in 5km-run

Kenya’s Robert Keter upstaged a quality field to win the Urban Trail Lille 5km on Saturday (November 9), taking seven seconds off the world record with his winning time of 13:22, the weekend round-up of road races (report dated November 10, 2019) available on the website of International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), said.

Lille is a city at the northern tip of France. According to the report, although the race organizers had hoped that Lille’s flat course may see a world record, such expectations were stacked higher well known athletes in the line-up, like world U20 5000m silver medallist Stanley Waithaka, world U20 cross-country champion Milkesa Mengesha and world indoor 3000m finalist Davis Kiplangat. The old mark was 13:29.

Nobody expected “ Keter to sprint away from the field in the closing stages to triumph in a world record time,’’ the report said. The new record is subject to the usual process of ratification. Keter was followed to finish line by Kenya’s Gilbert Kwemoi (13:28) and Stanley Waithaka (13:28), also of Kenya. In the women’s category, the winner was 17 year-old Mercy Jerop of Kenya who covered the distance in 16:21. France’s Fanny Pruvost, 23 years Jerop’s senior, was a distant second in 16:47.

As per the report, the 5km road distance was introduced as an official world record event in November 2017, with the inaugural record to be recognized after 1 January 2018 if the performances were equal to or better than 13:10 for men and 14:45 for women. “ If no such performances were achieved in 2018, the best performances of 2018 (13:30 by Bernard Kibet and 14:48 by Caroline Kipkurui) would be recognized on 1 January 2019. Seven weeks into 2019, Julien Wanders and Sifan Hassan bettered those marks in Monaco by clocking 13:29 and 14:44, times that have since been ratified as world records. Two months later, Edward Cheserek equaled Wanders’ mark at the Carlsbad 5000. Many athletes, however, have gone quicker than 13:22 before the 5km became an official world record event. The fastest time ever recorded for the distance remains Sammy Kipketer’s 13:00 clocking in Carlsbad in 2000,’’ the report said.

Lelisa Desisa, Ruth Chepngetich get 2019 AIMS Best Marathon Runner award

Lelisa Desisa (This photo was downloaded from the athlete’s Facebook page and is being used here for representation purpose. No copyright infringement intended)

World marathon champions Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia and Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya are the male and female recipients of the 2019 ` Best Marathon Runner’ award from the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS), a statement dated November 8, available on the website of International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), said.

“ Their achievements were given global recognition on Friday (8) in Athens, the birthplace of the marathon, at the seventh annual AIMS Best Marathon Runner (BMR) Gala. Desisa and Chepngetich were chosen by the AIMS athletes’ nomination committee as the outstanding candidates for the 2019 awards based upon their performances over the past 12 months,’’ the statement said.

Desisa won the 2018 New York City Marathon before winning the marathon at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 with timing of 2:10:40. Chepngetich is also a world marathon champion, having won in Doha with timing of 2:32:43. In the past year she also added wins at the Istanbul Marathon, the Dubai Marathon (in 2:17:08, the second-fastest time of the year), the Istanbul Half Marathon, the Seiryu Half Marathon and the Media Maraton de Bogota.

According to the statement, the Xiamen Marathon was presented with the AIMS Green Award, becoming the first Chinese race to win the accolade. The race organizers have demonstrated significant effort regarding climate change, waste reduction and environmental awareness. Since 2015, the Xiamen Marathon has donated more than 130,000 saplings to be planted, creating the ` Xiamen Forest of Love.’

This photo was downloaded from the Facebook page of the IAAF World Championships and is being used here for representation purpose. No copyright infringement intended.

The Harmony Geneva Marathon for Unicef was the 2019 recipient of the AIMS Social Award in recognition of their charitable efforts. Since 2010 the Harmony Geneva Marathon has been in partnership with Unicef, supporting the program ` WASH: Water, Sanitation, Hygiene’ and their sustainable development goal of ensuring access to water sanitation for all. To date the race has financed the installation of 1000 water pumps in different countries. From 2020, the event will support UNICEF Malawi to provide solar water pumps – a reliable, sustainable, user friendly and green technology solution for rural communities. In addition, the race manages a clothes collection point in its marathon village in association with the organization Bilifou to benefit young people in Burkino Faso. This partnership has seen more than 1000kg of clothes collected. Other activities with disabled people and refugees are managed by the organization in order to include everyone in the event.

(The author, Shyam G Menon, is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai.)