Sun | Nov 17, 2019

Tanya Lee | Rethink the changes, IAAF

Published:Friday | November 8, 2019 | 12:20 AM
Fedrick Dacres competes in the discus final at the IAAF World Championships, held at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on Monday, September 30, 2019. Dacres placed second in the event, winning a silver medal with a distance thrown of 66.94m.
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The IAAF announced significant changes to the Diamond League schedule this week. The 200m, the 3,000m steeplechase, the discus throw and the triple jump have been removed from Diamond League status.

The Diamond League finals will now be contested over one day rather than two.

The IAAF arrived at the decision, they say, via online voting and research. The main aim of the change is to facilitate a 90-minute TV product with a more fast-moving format.

IAAF President Sebastian Coe explained, “the elite circuit of quality events will attract the best athletes, which, in turn, give our fans a compelling reason to tune in and follow the stars over the next decade and beyond”.

COMPELLING TV

Lord Coe continues to toy with a sport that seems to be headed in the wrong direction. I don’t think chopping 30 minutes from a Diamond League meet will suddenly make for compelling TV. Track fans know one of those eliminated events, especially a sprint, could be the highlight at any given meet.

I agree that the IAAF needs a more compelling TV product. More gripping commentary, riveting athletic features, more savvy athlete introductions and employing some of the strategies that made the World Championships an improved broadcast could help.

Noah Lyles is one of the pre-eminent faces of the sport and the 200m is his main event. I can’t see how the IAAF benefits from giving their biggest names less, rather than more, TV time.

With the 200m no longer a financially viable option for the athletes, maybe the sport may benefit from more frequent showdowns over the 100m and 400m in what promises to be a massive year as preparations mount ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The elimination of the discus event will affect the livelihood of some athletes and coaches. Throws athletes have notoriously struggled, and the loss of the Diamond League income will only exacerbate this.

Just last month, Julian Robinson, who coached Fedrick Dacres to a silver medal at the recent World Championships, lamented that the throw events could hit the skids without more financial support.

He cited a few examples. Among them was national discus record holder Kellion Knibb, who left the sport because she lacked financial support once she had completed college. I recently read an article where world number eight Ola Stunes Isene bemoaned his limited finances and spoke of having to move back in with his parents. Discus World Champion Daniel Stahl described the change as simply ‘ridiculous’.

The IAAF may just create more problems than solutions for its constituents. I continue to be baffled by Coe and company. The IAAF needs to rethink these changes.

Tanya Lee has over 10 years’ expertise as a Caribbean sports marketer and is also an athlete manager and publicist.