Mon | Jan 18, 2021

Diamond League back to full complement

Published:Saturday | December 5, 2020 | 8:36 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter
Triple jump coach Kerry Lee Ricketts.
Triple jump coach Kerry Lee Ricketts.
National triple jumper Shanieka Ricketts.
National triple jumper Shanieka Ricketts.
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To the delight of track and field coach Kerry Lee Ricketts, the Diamond League season will have its full complement of events return for the 2021 athletic season.

World Athletics said yesterday that all 32 disciplines will be featured in the Diamond League final in Zurich, Switzerland, next season, the last of the 13 meets scheduled for next season, should the COVID-19 pandemic allow. The 2020 calendar was affected by the pandemic, which allowed for only eight Diamond League events to be staged this season. World Athletics made changes to this year’s competition, omitting the 3000m steeplechase, 200m, triple jump, discus throw, and 5000m from the final, causing backlash from athletes globally.

Ricketts, who coaches his wife, 2019 World Championships triple jump silver medallist, 2019 Diamond League champion Shanieka Ricketts, says that World Athletics’ reversal was not surprising given the strong criticism that followed the announcement of the revised format.

“I’m not surprised because of the added pressure, not just from track and field in terms of athletes, but from fans across the board,” he said. “Sometimes you’re on the social media pages and people write their disapproval, and that continued throughout the majority of last season.”

Additionally, the Diamond League piloted a play-off format for the long jump this year called the ‘Final Three’, which was also met with strong disapproval from the athletes. In response to the changes in the 2020 competition format, the Athletics Association (AA), an independent all-athlete’s union, was formed and launched in July to champion the best interest of all competitors.

Ricketts commended the work that the union has done reversing the changes, and says that their work will be a major asset going forward.

“I think this organisation [is] very useful, not just for this situation, but I’m sure they will be called upon to have dialogue with World Athletics where they contribute to the decision-making, rather than people who are not athletes,” Ricketts said.

Athletes, including reigning Olympic and World champion triple jumper Christian Taylor, have welcomed the news of the reversal. The American, who is president of the AA, says that the decision rewarded the concerns raised by his peers.

“The efforts made towards reinstating the previously removed disciplines are perceived as a tremendous success,” he said. “Not only is it enormously appreciated, but further reassuring to the athlete body’s voice.”

Among next season’s format changes are the introduction of a qualifying round followed by final round for the long jump, javelin, triple jump, shot put and discus. Diamond League Association Chairman Sebastian Coe says that he is pleased that all stakeholders were able to contribute to the changes.

“The process has helped remind all of us about why the Diamond League is so special, and I am confident this will shine through to the fans in this coming season,” he said.

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com