Photo: (left) 2019 Diamond LeagueTriple Jump winner Shanieka Ricketts and Commonwealth Games 2018 Champion Kimberly Williams are not in agreement with the rule changes to the horizontal jumps brought in by the Diamond League last weekend.
The Men’s Long Jump final at the concluding Meet of shortened the Diamond League season in Stockholm Sweden had a farcical end on Sunday, following what World Athletics deemed to be an “experiment”.
The change to the end of the competition saw the winner being determined by the best distance achieved in the final round of jumps and not the best overall distance achieved on the day, by the finalists.
What the new rule meant was that the results of the first five jumps for all the finalists, effectively became null and void, during the final phase of the competition, in which the athletes were allowed three additional jumps.
Of the three finalists, the Swede, Thobias Montler had the best jump of 8.13m heading into the final phase, while Ruswahl Samaai of South Africa had a best of 8.07m and Kristian Pulli of Finland had a best of 8.02m.
At the end of the final three jumps, Samaai had best of 8.09m and was awarded first place while Montler had a best of 8.06m and finished second, while Pulli placed third after registering three no jumps.
So, despite having a jump in the competition that was 4cm better than Samaai’s best effort, Montler ended up a runner-up at the end of it all.
Now just imagine someone creating a world record mark in a field event in the early rounds of competition, but being unable to replicate it in the final round and not even receiving a medal in the end?
Petr Stastny, the Diamond League CEO was quoted as saying, “this format is likely to award athletes who have the ability to perform under the most intense pressure. We think it will bring more drama to the field events as nothing will be decided until the very last performance.”
However, while Stastny and his friends may think that this new format is a good idea, they have received absolutely no support from any athlete who has voiced an opinion on Sunday’s debacle so far.
In fact, the drama that the he is hoping for my end up being a stand-off between the event organizers and the competing athletes.
Event winner Ruswahl Samaai was left embarrassed after collecting the gold medal saying, “I won the competition based on a format that’s not fair toward the guy with the further distance. I saw the disappointment in Montler’s eyes after our last attempts. He shook his head and I could see it.
“It doesn’t bring excitement. It only brings disappointment. Can we please stop fixing things that’s not broken?”
Last year’s Women’s Diamond League Triple Jump champion, Jamaican Shanieka Ricketts was understandably incensed by the new rule.
“I believe changes should be beneficial not diminishing. I am not certain of the objectives for the experiment, however I agree with my fellow athletes who have been expressing their displeasure on social media,” she sated.
“This new format, I doubt will have the impact the organizers thought they would have achieved. Athletes will now leave the competition feeling cheated in some instances, like what transpired at the Stockholm Diamond League.
“This new format isn’t just confusing to fans watching the event, but it’s very unfortunate and causes unnecessary stress to the athletes,” Ricketts continued.
“I believe the field events should be left alone, with top eight getting their additional three attempts in the one day competition, which works just fine,” she concluded.
Jamaica’s Commonwealth Games triple jump champion, Kimberly Williams, took to Twitter after the event to express her displeasure with the rule change.
“I really hope this is the last time y’all do this because cleaning the slate after the 5th round isn’t it. The furthest jump on the day don’t get the win anymore, (sic). A. Complete. Joke.”
With the Diamond League season now officially at an end, one can only hope that the first rule change announced for the 2021 season is reverting to the old format, that didn’t require any fixing in the first place.