AT A GLANCE / OCTOBER 2020

Illustration: Shyam G Menon

New world records ratified

The new world records set in early September by Peres Jepchirchir (Kenya), Sifan Hassan (Netherlands) and Mo Farah (UK), have been ratified, World Athletics informed in a statement dated October 12, 2020, available on their website.

“ Jepchirchir’s 1:05:34 women-only world half marathon record and the one-hour world records from Hassan (18,930m) and Mo Farah (21,330m) are now official,’’ the statement said. Jepchirchir had produced her record-breaking run on September 5, 2020 at the Prague 21.1KM, an invitational-only elite half marathon held on a 16.5-lap course in Letna Park in the Czech capital. Hassan and Farah stormed into the record books at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Brussels on September 4, the night before Jepchirchir’s race in Prague.

These records fall in the category of sterling performances reported amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that cancelled mass participation events and upset the staging schedule of competitions worldwide. The first major world record in athletics, in this context, was Joshua Cheptegei’s new mark in the 5000 meters track race for men, set on August 14, 2020. The Ugandan athlete covered the distance in 12:35:36. In October, Cheptegei rewrote the time taken for the track based-10,000 meters, when he set a new world record of 26:11:00. At the same event in Valencia, Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey set a new world record in the 5000 meters for women, completing the race in 14:06:62.

Adille Sumariwalla is AFI president for a third time, Anju Bobby George is senior vice president

Adille J. Sumariwalla was elected president of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) for a third time at its annual general meeting, a press release dated October 31, 2020, available on the website of AFI, said.  Anju Bobby George, India’s only medalist in the World Athletics Championships, was elected as senior vice president. Ravinder Chaudhary and Madhukant Pathak were elected secretary and treasurer of the organization respectively.

In response to claims by some non-members about the legality of Sumariwalla’s nomination for his third term, AFI has clarified that he filed nomination not only as president of Maharashtra Athletics Association but also as outgoing AFI president, as allowed by AFI Constitution (Clause XXVIII.A.e) which specifies the president does not require representation either to sit in meetings or to contest election for the next tenure.

All positions in the AFI Executive Committee were elected unopposed, the release said.

According to it, Sumariwalla, who said that the uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has had a cascading effect on a lot of areas in the sport, including the mental health of athletes and the earnings of the federation, has encouraged state associations to actively seek the help of their respective state governments to ensure that athletics competitions can resume sooner than later.

“ On the first day of the two-day annual general meeting, some key issues including age-fraud, doping and over-training were taken up. The house agreed that while AFI has taken many steps to curb age-fraud, state and district associations needed to be more proactive in ending the scourge of age-fraud that leaves athletes,’’ the release added.

Pocket Outdoor Media Acquires Big Stone Publishing

Outdoor enthusiasts, climbers and those into endurance sports in India would be familiar with publications like Climbing, Rock and Ice, Backpacker, Trail Runner and VeloNews. A recent acquisition in the publishing world has brought these titles under one roof.

Early October 2020, Pocket Outdoor Media (POM) announced its takeover of Big Stone Publishing (BSP). Both companies are based in the US. POM has in its fold titles like Climbing, Backpacker, Women’s Running, Triathlete, Yoga Journal, Clean Eating, VeloNews and SKI. BSP’s list of publications included Rock and Ice, Trail Runner, ASCENT, Gym Climber and Dirt.

In a related statement available on the website of POM, its CEO Robin Thurston has said, “ this acquisition significantly strengthens our ability to engage with outdoor enthusiasts across all of the seasons and sports that live at the intersection of adrenaline and adventure. By merging Rock & Ice into Climbing, we’ll be better positioned to deliver exceptional content and cover all of the sport’s disciplines—trad, sport, gym, and alpine climbing—in ways not possible before. Similarly, Trail Runner broadens our running portfolio, adding the dominant title in the sport’s fastest-growing discipline.”

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

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