08 July, 2017

The "javelin option" or how to reset the world records

In my post on the tabula rasa for records I mentioned an option which was considered and discarded by the European Records Credibility Project Team, the "javelin option". It was named so in reference to the changes in the javelin specifications which had made the introduction of new records mandatory. I find the idea behind such a revolutionary change in athletics quite appealing but, in the same time, I am aware that such an option would never come to pass given the conservatism of the governing bodies. In fact I am not quite sure that the "1913 option" will meet with success (but time will tell). 

Since this blog, inspired by Juilland's writing, does not baulk at extreme proposals I will, in what follows, formulate my own "javelin option". I have made over the years several revolutionary proposals, so, my "javelin option" will essentially be a compilation of the latter interspersed with some recent ideas of mine.

Let us start with the track events. In my post on “Metric vs. Imperial” units I was suggesting that the official distances should become

100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000 and 20000 m

with the Marathon replaced either by a 40 or by a 50 km.

In a subsequenct post I tackled the question of relays, hurdles and steeplechase. (The question of the 110 m men’s relay was addressed also in another post).

At the end of my post on Metric vs. Imperial I was pointing out that in order for the imperial to metric conversion to make sense the stadium circumference should be increased to 500 m. If that came to be then all the old records would bhave to be replaced. The single exception is that of the 100 m, which does not depend on the stadium circumference. I think that in this case we should just bite the bullet and decide that all track records  must be erased including the 100 m.

Of course, we should not hold our breath. The stadium dimensions are here to stay. So what could one do given this situation? One crazy proposal (technically crazier than that of 500 m stadia) is to have the athletes run clockwise. (Again that would not solve the problem of the 100 m). In fact the races at the 1896, 1900 and 1904 Olympics were ran clockwise. 

And, I'm sure the 1906 Olympics were run clockwise
in this magnificent Panathenaic Stadion

This is another “imperial” influence. Oxford and Cambridge athletes were running clockwise and continued doing so till the late 40s. Curiously it’s at the London, 1908, Olympics that the running direction was reversed becoming counterclockwise, something that became the international standard.

Having disposed with track events we can turn now to jumps. In my post on Longer Jumps, I made a proposal, which I consider quite reasonable, namely to replace the 20 cm take-off board by a 60 cm one and measure the true length of their jump. It is pefectly feasible with today’s technology and has in fact been tried in competitions.

Vertical jumps pose a special challenge and will be the object of a separate post.

Finally we turn to the throws. In my post I suggested that throwing circles should be enlarged to 3 m for all three disciplines of shot, discus and hammer throw. Moreover the weight of men’s shot and hammer could be raised to 8 kg as argued in that same post. It remains that the javelin has been recently modified (well, not really recently, but compared to the history of athletics the modification is recent). There are two directions we can go to from where we are now. Either further limit the flight of javelins by moving the centre of mass slightly forward or allow for a textured surface (which was banned in the new specifications) that would allow longer throws. 

Oh, and just in case you were wondering about race-walking: scrap the records and forget about this discipline.

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