The revolutionary change in long jump that World Athletics thinks and caused the irony of Carl Lewis

In search of more spectacle and avoid null attempts, the body presided by Sebastian Coe is considering replacing the current platform with a larger jumping area. “You’re supposed to wait until April 1 to see April Fools’ Day jokes,” ironized the athletics legend, four-time Olympic champion in the specialty.

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Ivana Spanovic, world champion in Budapest, was against the possible change.
Credit. Getty
Ivana Spanovic, world champion in Budapest, was against the possible change. Credit. Getty

The radical change that World Athletics plans for long jump competition opened up debate in the world of athletics and one of the legends of the sport, the American Carl Lewis, was openly against the modification. So did the current world champion, the Serbian Ivana Spanovic.

What is the potential change about? The body chaired by Sebastian Coe is considering replacing the current batting line, which the athlete cannot touch for the attempt to be positive, with a larger jumping area. “These are things that our innovation teams are working on. Everything is on the table and this will make everyone happy,” said the Briton.

What are they looking for with this modification? The intention is to add more positive leaps and is based on a study by World Athletics regarding the number of nulls that occurred in the last World Cup in Budapest (31%). Jon Ridgeon, executive director of the former Athletics Federation, argued in the podcast ‘Anything But Footy’ that with the change “every jump counts and will add to the drama of the competition”. And he said: “At the same time, we are looking for a way to know the result right away without having to wait 20 or 30 seconds before knowing it, as is the case now. It’s about improving so that what we already have is even more fun for the future.”

Carl Lewis’s irony: “You’re supposed to wait until April 1 to see April Fools’ Day jokes”

After learning about this modification evaluated by World Athletics, Carl Lewis, a four-time Olympic champion in long jump (Los Angeles 1984, Seoul 1988, Barcelona 1992 and Atlanta 1996), was clearly against it in his X account (former Twitter).

“Actually, it wouldn’t change the distances much. You would simply see more mismeasured jumps,” said the Son of the Wind and stressed: “The long jump is the most difficult test in athletics. That would simply eliminate the most difficult skill from the event. Just make the basket bigger for free throws because a lot of people miss them. What do you think?”

Lewis interacted with users of the social media platform and explained that “the problem has nothing to do with faults. They no longer try to jump far. We jump in another way. That’s why we jump farther. So the change of table will affect distances in the long term. The lack of discipline and coherence that exists on the track will only worsen.”

“Those who like the idea don’t get the point. It won’t make people jump any farther. Will all jumps from 8.20 convert to 8.60? We should focus on accepting the fact that the world record is 9.95 (it’s actually 8.95) and stop ignoring it. Mike Powell needed years of work to break that world record. So are we saying they can’t skip that 30 years later? They can do it, with the right commitment. The approach should be like yours and go change the damn record and do what I had to do in training. The new dashboard idea won’t work and won’t improve distances. Everyone who has ever jumped more than 29 feet (8.83 meters) is still alive. Maybe you should start asking them how they did it and stop trying to do everything else,” said Lewis, who was also Olympic champion in the 100, 200 and 4x100 meters.

In addition to Lewis, who was also against the possible change was the Serbian Ivana Spanovic, world champion in Budapest 2023 and bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

“I think that the focus on sponsorships and television broadcasts should not be detrimental to the integrity of the sport,” said Spanovic and analyzed: “It would be good to find a balance between the promotion of sport and the preservation of its basic values.”

The modification that World Athletics intends to implement in the long jump will begin to be tested in 2024 in minor competitions and would be for two years. Will the revolutionary change be seen in Los Angeles 2028?