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Carl Lewis, long jumpers slam proposed change to Olympic event: ‘Wait until April 1st for April Fools’ jokes’

February 22nd, 2024

Olympic legend Carl Lewis is fully against a new idea from World Athletics. (Photo by Fernando de Dios/Getty Images)

No track and field meet is complete without the excitement the long jump can provide. But a proposed format change could take away one of the event’s most foundational aspects, and Olympic legend Carl Lewis isn’t having it.

The controversial idea, which was introduced by World Athletics CEO Jon Ridgeon during an episode of the “Anything But Footy” podcast, would eliminate foul jumps by replacing the traditional take-off board with a take-off “zone.” Athletes are currently measured from the board to where they land in the pit. If they pass the board, the jump isn’t counted.

“We’ll spend this year testing it in real life circumstances with very good athletes. If it doesn’t pass testing, we’ll never introduce it,” Ridgeon said. “But at the same time, we are trying to work out ways of getting instant results so that you don’t have to wait 20 or 30 seconds before the result pops up, and how we speed up the whole thing.”

To avoid impacting competition ahead of the Paris Olympics, it seems likely the concept can only be tested during minor meets. The organization didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The goal is to add to add drama while potentially drawing new fans, Ridgeon added. It comes after a third of all the jumps at the 2023 World Championships in Budapest were fouls.

“Athletes stepping over the front of the take-off board – that doesn’t work, that’s a waste of time,” he said, [The proposed format] means every single jump counts.”

If you ask Lewis, a nine-time Olympic gold medalist with plenty of experience in the event, the idea is almost laughable:

“You’re supposed to wait until April 1st for April Fools [sic] jokes,” Lewis wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

He elaborated on his issues with the proposed change in a separate post:

“I guess It supports what I’ve been saying, that the long jump is the most difficult event in track and field. That would just eliminate the most difficult skill from the event. Just make the basket larger for free throws because so many people miss them.”

His public dismay started on Monday and has continued through the week.

“The new board idea will not work and will not improve distances,” he wrote on Wednesday. “Every person who has ever jumped over 29 feet is still alive. Maybe you should start asking them how they did it and stop trying to do everything else.”

Lewis’ 1991 jump over 8.91 meters remains third on the world all-time list, and he won Gold in the event at four consecutive Olympic Games. He was joined by a group of other accomplished athletes in speaking out against the change.

British long jumper Jazmin Sawyers is the reigning European indoor long jump champion. She isn’t in support of the idea, which she discussed in a series of videos she shared via Instagram Stories on Tuesday.

“Part of the skill is that you have to hit the board. If you remove that, it changes the event completely,” she said. “I don’t think you’d be able to compare the old records to the new records.”

American star Tara Davis-Woodhall, who just notched a mark of 7.18-meters (23-6.75) for the national title and a world lead on Feb. 16, shared a message against the proposed change from 2023 World Champion Ivana Španović.

While Španović’s statement asked World Athletics to consider athletes when considering such significant changes, Olympian-turned-premier coach Leroy Burrell took that sentiment a step further by calling for prize money to be prioritized instead.

In light of the public backlash, it will be interesting to see how World Athletics gets athletes to participate in testing of the idea.

This content was originally sourced and posted at Yahoo! Sports – News, Scores, Standings, Rumors, Fantasy Games »
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