LAST LAP — August

HERE’S THIS MONTH’S collection of short takes on generally off-track activities that have gone/will go a long way towards shaping the way the sport is headed.

Will she or won’t she? With just two meets under her belt in ’23, Athing Mu may skip the World Champs, says her coach. (KEVIN MORRIS)

Wavelights: “More Predictable & Less Exciting”

Not a fan of the pacing lights which of late have been accompanying high-end DL races? Neither is Sonia O’Sullivan.

Writing in the Irish Times, the former Athlete Of The Year said, “I now realize that as much as Wavelight technology has a place in athletics events it also narrows the focus and also narrows our connection as fans with the individual athletes.

“All sports need personalities to make it more attractive, yet athletics is leading towards being more about numbers and statistics, with just a very small number of personalities connecting with the fans.

“As a result I feel this reduces the growth and exposure of the sport beyond a very niche few that can relate to fast times and ranking points. If every race you go to see is set up and paced perfectly then the races become more predictable and less exciting to watch.”

She’s happy that the technology hasn’t yet reached championship-level races, saying, “It’s only a matter of time, however, but I’m not sure it is such a good thing as it creates a more one-dimensional sport with too much predictability and very few surprises.

“The new personalities of the sport are crushed when every race is a time trial.”

No Mu In Budapest?

On August 02 coach Bobby Kersee dropped the bombshell that prize pupil Athing Mu might not defend her WC 800 title.

“It’s in our control,” he told the LA Times. “If we decide we’re just going to go ahead and train through this year and focus on next year, then that’s what we’re going to do. The training is going well but our thought process, openly, is that we’re going to just train here in LA for the next 2 weeks and the next time she gets on the plane it’ll either be on vacation or to Budapest.”

As the event’s Wild Card holder, Mu wouldn’t cost anyone else a spot on Team USA should she withdraw. Kersee also clarified that if Mu does go to Hungary it would be for the 800 only, no relay duty.

Benjamin Thinking About A WR Time

Interviewed on a radio show in Antigua in late July, long hurdler Rai Benjamin talked about a record-breaking clocking in Budapest.

“Am not going to put it out there,” he said, “but I am looking for a sub-World Record mark because that’s what it’s going to take to win in all honesty because Warholm is in shape and I am in shape so it’s just about getting sharp now these next couple of days and fine-tuning a couple of things to get ready to go and do that.”

After battling a quad injury for much of the year, he said, “Now it’s just about maintaining feeling good and training well.”

Indy Gets New Indoor Facility

The Indiana State Fairgrounds & Event Center and USATF have announced a partnership to host track events throughout the year.

The Indiana Farm Bureau Fall Creek Pavilion in Indianapolis underwent a $50M renovation and while the main function of the structure will be as a livestock facility it will also contain a portable banked 200-meter track.

“The opening of this world-class facility in Indianapolis is a significant milestone which underlines the immense commitment by the state of Indiana to the sport of track & field,” says USATF CEO Max Siegel.

“Moreover, it will serve as a hub for camps of all levels, coaching education clinics, and a center for athletes training at all levels to nurture talent and promote excellence in track & field. This multi-use facility will be an active part of our community here in Indianapolis, where we are proud to be based.”

Whereabouts Charge For Amusan

The latest big-name performer to be charged with missing a trio of testing obligations is 100H WR holder Tobi Amusan.

On July 19 the 26-year-old Nigerian posted, “Today the AIU has charged me with an alleged rule violation for having 3 missed tests in 12 months. I intend to fight this charge and will have my case decided by a tribunal of 3 arbitrators before the start of next month’s World Championships.

“I am a CLEAN ATHLETE and I am regularly (maybe more than the usual) tested by the AIU…

“I have FAITH that this will be resolved in my favor and that I will be competing at the World Championships.”

The AIU had no comment, other than to confirm the existence and ongoing nature of the case against the reigning world champion.

Semenya Scores A Win Of Sorts

In early July Caster Semenya won a victory in the European Court Of Human Rights, but it won’t allow her to compete again, at least not anytime soon.

The embattled South African, now 32, has been using the courts to try to reverse WA decisions on DSD (differences of sexual development) athletes.

Previous challenges with CAS and the Swiss Federal Tribune had failed, but Semenya’s latest case, before the chamber of the ECHR, led to a 4–3 ruling that her human rights had been violated. The judgment is not final and will likely be referred to the Grand Chamber for more deliberation.

“Justice has spoken but this is only the beginning,” said Semenya, who described herself as “elated.”

While the decision does not compel any change in the WA policy, Semenya said, “My hope is that World Athletics, and indeed all sporting bodies, reflect on the statements made by the European Court Of Human Rights and ensure that they respect the dignity and human rights of the athletes they deal with.”

WA noted that the judgment was “deeply divided.” Its release concluded, “The current DSD regulations, approved by the World Athletics Council in March 2023, will remain in place.”

Concern Over OT Marathon Start Time

Orlando, Florida, will be hosting next year’s Olympic Trials Marathons on February 03. Race organizers have clarified that the men’s start time will be 12:10, the women’s 12:20.

That could be problematic, says Runner’s World, citing average daily temperatures on that date ranging from a high of 73 (23C) to a low of 50 (10C). But in recent years it hasn’t been unusual for temps to climb into the high 80s (c30C) in February.

The Hansons-Brooks Distance Project has 13 athletes qualified for the Trials. Reacted coach Kevin Hanson, “With 6 months to go, I hope the higher ups take a look at things and reconsider this decision. It’s dangerous for the athletes.”

For its part, organizers cited an e-mail sent to athletes which said, “The LOC has been planning and executing high level events for 40+ years in Orlando and has contingencies in place for any potential challenges to the event, including weather.”

“The Track Collective” Is Formed

Just before the USATF Championships came an announcement of The Track Collective, a new type of organization providing support and mentorship for emerging professional athletes.

Spearheaded by sponsored pros Colleen Quigley and Nikki Hiltz, as well as recent college runners Katie Camarena and Emma Gee, the organization’s goal is to “unite professional track and field athletes and provide a network of support to developing professional track and field athletes.

“The organization’s mission is to build an inclusive, supportive community where information and resources are openly shared and both new and seasoned professional athletes can gather to see guidance, advice, networking, connection, and camaraderie.”

In Eugene, the group sold t-shirts and accepted donations to help ease the financial burden of competing there for unsponsored athletes. More information, as well as a membership application, is available at

HS False Starts Open To Interpretation

The days of every level of our sport being on the same page with regard to the no-false-start rule have come to an end. The National HS federation has decided to tweak its rule to give starters more leeway to use their own judgment.

The previous rule language required runners to remain motionless before the start. The new copy says, “If a runner leaves their mark with a hand or foot after the ‘set’ command but before the starting device is fired.”

Added is this violation: “if a runner leaves their mark with a forward motion without the starting device being fired.”

A note on the new rule explains: “Extraneous motion before the device is fired does not necessarily require a false start to be charged unless the criteria in the rule are met. If the starter thinks the movement creates a situation of unfairness to any of the competitors, the starter may cancel the start with the command ‘stand up,’ or if the device has been fired, recall the race as an unsteady or unfair start and redo the starting procedure.”

Said the NFHS liaison, “The rules committee felt that these changes offer a clearer definition of a false start and will help add consistency in how false starts are officiated.” ◻︎

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