01 August, 2017

The "javelin option" for vertical jumps

This is a sequel to my post of July 8th in which I considered whet the European Records Credibility Project Team dubbed the "javelin option". The reference is obvious: when the specifications of the javelin were introduced back in 1986 (and again in 1992, and, for women in 1999) the list of record had to be set aside and new records started to be homologated from that date onwards. 

I tackled the question of of track and of field events in that previous post of mine with the exception of the vertical jumps. 

 Standing high jump at the 1906 OLympics.
Do you notice something?

So, how to modify the rules for the vertical jumps so as to make a revision of world records mandatory I will not go to the excesses of Juilland who talks about laser beams and “star wars” technology. What could be a “javelin option” for high jump and pole vault? I think that the simplest change important enough so that it would warrant a new record list would be to limit the total number of jumps an athlete can make. 

I went through the results of the last three World Championships and I think that a total of 8 allowed attempts sounds quite reasonable. When you run out of attempts you are out. Then there is the question of how many attempts you can take at a given height. The simplest rule would be to allow the athlete to make all tries at the same height. But this means that the athlete can concentrate all efforts at a height where all the other competitors have already exhausted their tries. This would make for lopsided competitions and strange tactics something highly undesirable. So probably the rule of "three fails and you're out" should be upheld. An interesting possibility would be to make it four instead of three but unfortunately there is no way to estimate how this would influence the outcome of a competition. 

Since the number of attempts is limited and the heights are always known in advance one thing to be added to the new rule would be that the athletes declare where they start and which heights they'll attempt. They may decide not to jump a height they had declared but one attempt would be tallied out form their total.

Just to leave open a possibility for a record, once there is a clear winner he should be awarded three jumps at a height of his choice aiming at record breaking (even if this means merely a personal record).

Back in 2015 I wrote about the unfair rules of tie-breaking. My arguments there stand also in the case of the new rules I consider here for the vertical jump. 

F. Gonder winning the pole vault in the 1906 Olympics.
Having tied at the first place we won at the jump-off.

Finally there is the question of vertical jumps in combined events. I will risk going out on a limb and suggest that for combined events the number of vertical jumps be limited to six. Since there are practically no tactics in combined events the athletes will not have to declare all the heights they are going to attempt but just the initial one. And so as to minimise fouling-out disasters let them take any number of attempts at a given height. After all we have this (absurd) rule of 4 m/s allowed wind speed for combined events, which I wrote about in my post on wind effects. So, why not allow deca/hepta-thletes take more than three jumps at a given height if they need them? Given that they have a fixed total this is not hampering the proceedings of the competition.

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