Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Hubert Lawrence | Big throws and change

Published:Thursday | July 28, 2016 | 7:00 AM

The biggest moment of the recently concluded IAAF World Under-20 Championships came early. Konrad Bukowiecki strode into the circle for his third throw in the shot put final on the first day of the Championships with history on his mind. Representing the host nation Poland, Bukowiecki spun from the back of the circle and launched the shot 23.34 metres - a world junior-20 record.

There can hardly be a better start to a meet than a world record from a member of the home team. From the TV pictures I saw, the stadium was empty when he boomed his shot, but news of his achievement seemed to pull fans to the Championships after that.

Overcome with excitement, Bukowiecki fouled his fourth throw. In case you wonder what he did with his fifth and sixth throws, I've got news for you. There weren't any. It wasn't his fault.

The same goes for Neeray Chopra of India, who set a world Under-20 javelin record of 86.48 metres with his fourth effort. The throws were conducted with only four attempts for each competitor in finals.

There have been some experimental moves to shorten field event competitions, but this was the first time this one was used in a World Championship.

Those experiments were used in lower-level meets as promoters searched for ways to make track and field more attractive.

 

ROUNDS INSTEAD OF HEATS

 

It's all part of an evolution. The 100m, 200m and 400m are no longer composed of heats, quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals at the World Championships and the Olympic Games. There are just three rounds now.

Britain's marvellous Mo Farah is the current distance dominator with 5,000/10,000m doubles at the last three major global championships. He, however, does far less work to win than Lasse Viren, the flying Finn, who did the same doubles at the 1972 and 1976 Olympics and Maruts 'The Shifter' Yifter of Ethiopia, who took both events in 1980. In those days, the 10,000 metres had heats. The 5,000m still does.

Months ago, there was talk of the elimination of events like the 200m and the 10,000m from the schedules of international championships. Some people scoffed, but the evolution is being televised. Like many other sports, track and field athletics is being cut to fit into a smaller space.

What's next?

Last year's World Youth Championships ended with co-ed 4x400-metre relays. Teams of two boys and two girls each duked it out over the distance, where Jamaica's famed Helsinki quartet made history in world record time way back in 1952.

That might not suit Jamaica because of our famous history in the men's event and our current strength in the women's version.

Based on what happened to the throws at the World Under-20 Championships, change is under way. Like it or not, the 4x400m could be next.

There's just one question left. How far would Bukowiecki and Chopra have thrown in the sixth round?

We'll never know.

- Hubert Lawrence has made notes at track side since 2016.