On last week’s episode we teased this week’s topic by asking our guest Dave Wollman about his views on foreign athletes competing in the NCAA system. With immigration being a hot topic in this US presidential campaign season, we thought we would take a look at foreign athletes and how they should fit into the American collegiate system. Read more
The concept of accountability should be right at home in sports. Accountability requires two things: knowing the results of a performance, and acting upon those results. We have no issue knowing an athlete’s results. Sport gives us those answers in black and white: an athlete wins or loses, they run faster or slower. And in sports there is no hesitation in acting upon the results. If you don’t perform, the next kid is waiting in line to take your place. Even if the underperformance is explainable, as in the case of an injury, you might still be kicked out on your butt. Read more
For the past few months, the IAAF has been embroiled in the latest of its many doping scandals. Last week, President Sebastian Coe unveiled a road map to restore credibility to the sport. If you were waiting for new ideas to attack a long festering problem, you will no doubt be disappointed. While Coe recommended doubling the doping budget, what they would do with that money is more of the same. The major issue in this most recent case is first and foremost that corruption made testing ineffective, not that there were too few tests or too little budget. Read more
On Thursday the IAAF announced that they would be lowering the Olympic qualifying standards in 17 events. This is undoubtedly good news to everyone in our sport as the previous standards were unrealistically high. But it also begs the question: why did the IAAF have to lower the qualifying standard in the first place? Did the quality suddenly drop in 40% of the events? Or is the IAAF just out of touch with our sport? One cannot help but think this after following the recent athletics news. Read more
One month from today the IAAF will elect their next president. Two candidates are vying for the position: Lord Sebastian Coe and Sergey Bubka.
Both Coe and Bubka have stellar resumés that will surely push the sport forward. But sometimes it is a bit difficult to see the differences between them. Read more
Steve Roush is the former Chief of Sport Performance for the United States Olympic Committee. In that role he oversaw a record medal count for Team USA at the Beijing Olympics. Currently he works as a senior sports performance consultant for TSE Consulting. In this role he advises sports organizations and governmental agencies in improving elite athlete performance by providing strategic advice in areas such as: Athlete Development Pipeline, High Performance Planning, Olympic Games preparation consultation and Evaluation of sports performance systems. Having worked with federations and governments of many countries across the globe, Steve is in a good position to see what works and what doesn’t in sports organizations. I had a chance to talk with him recently about these points. Read more
In this final part of our training talk with Jüri Tamm we turn to another important topic: the health of our sport. As a former hammer thrower, Tamm has a deep love for the hammer throw. He is intimately involved in the politics of our sport and well positioned to analyze the precarious position we are in and provide some insight on how we can improve the position of the sport. Currently Tamm is the chief of staff for Sergey Bubka. In addition to being setting 35 world records as a pole vaulter, Bubka now serves as president of the Ukranian Olympic Committee, a member of the IOC Executive Board, and senior vice president of the IAAF. It is widely expected that he will soon announce his candidacy for the IAAF presidency. In working with Bubka, Tamm is well connected to the changes happening in athletics and the Olympic movement. Read more
Earlier in the week we began our training talk with Vésteinn Hafsteinsson. Hafsteinsson runs the Global Throwing team and was best known the personal coach of 2008 Olympic discus champion Gerd Kanter. The first two parts of our chat centered on training and technique. For this final part we look a little at the politics of track and field and a few issues that are keeping the throwing events from growing even further.
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The IAAF Hammer Challenge will come to a close on Sunday with a stop at the Rieti Meeting in Italy. The women’s competition is all but decided as a late season surge of three straight competitions over 77 meters for Anita Wlodarczyk gives her an insurmountable 6.90-meter lead heading into Rieti. The men’s competition, on the other hand, couldn’t be much closer. The top two throwers are only separated by 6-centimeters. However a unique aspect of the IAAF Hammer Challenge means that the final competition might not count at all.
At the end of June I wrote about the absurdity of the IAAF men’s hammer throw standards. Now that the qualification period has closed we can see the extent of the damage done. Last year in London 42 athletes competed. This year, if each country sends the largest possible team and there are no new injuries, an estimated 26 athletes will compete at the World Championships. Only four countries will have more than one athlete: Russia, Belarus, Hungary and Poland.
My first post talked about how unrealistic standards are in comparison to historical results and how these standards exclude potential finalists and medalists from the competition. In addition, the standards discriminate against the hammer because funding and sponsorship decisions are often based upon the IAAF’s standards. Both of these points are equally valid for all field events, it is just that the hammer has been hit particularly hard.
But there is also an elephant in the room when we start talking about standards: illegitimate marks. The standards are so high that many athletes throw qualifying marks at competitions with questionable validity or doping control procedures. This, in turn, helps the IAAF justify higher standards. This is a bold statement for me to make, especially since I have only anecdotal evidence to back it up, but while many other elite athletes allude to the problem on Facebook no one is willing to come out and say it. The reason I want to speak up is because if the Diamond League included the hammer throw I think this problem would nearly disappear.