Athletics: 'It's a mess', say long jumpers of new-look competition in Stockholm

STOCKHOLM (AFP) – A new-look long jump competition will debut at Sunday’s Stockholm Diamond League meeting with many in the sport hoping its first appearance will also be its last.

Instead of the traditional format of the winner being decided by the best jump from six rounds, the top three on Sunday after five rounds will instead contest a one-jump final.

“It’s not innovation, but it is a mess,” American Olympic long jump champion Tianna Bartoletta told the BBC.

“They are sacrificing the athlete and their effort for the hope that a spectator is going to care about that moment of drama, when the entire long jump competition is dramatic.”

American triple jumper Christian Taylor, a double Olympic champion and four-time world champion, was equally dismissive.

“I hope this idea will stop after this season,” he tweeted.

“I would like to understand how this could be better than the traditional format?”

The Athletics Association, a competitors’ pressure group, said they had surveyed dozens of athletes and claimed that 87 per cent were against the new long jump.

“Yet again the jumps are getting messed with. IT DOESNT WORK!” tweeted Britain’s Greg Rutherford, the 2012 Olympic champion.

“TV doesn’t show it as live… (it) makes me want to bang my head against the wall. Surely a true measure of pressure is giving EVERYONE a chance to win?”

Diamond League chief executive Petr Stastny told the BBC, however, that with the Olympics postponed to 2021, it was the perfect time to tweak the event.

“This format is likely to reward athletes who have the ability to perform under the most intense pressure,” he said.

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