World Athletics considers “take-off zone” trial to revamp long jump

World Athletics, the governing body for track and field, is exploring the possibility of trialing a new method for measuring long jump take-offs. This proposed modification could potentially revolutionize the event by reducing the number of no-jumps and adding an element of excitement to the competition.

The current system utilizes a traditional wooden board, and any athlete whose foot crosses the line during take-off is disqualified. This often leads to frustration and wasted attempts, particularly for jumpers pushing the boundaries in pursuit of greater distance.

The proposed alternative involves replacing the board with a designated “take-off zone.” Athletes will still be allowed to touch the zone during their approach, but any take-off occurring outside the designated area will result in a no-jump. This approach aims to provide jumpers with more leeway while maintaining fairness and accuracy in distance measurement.

The potential benefits of this trial are multifaceted. Firstly, it could significantly reduce the number of disqualified jumps, allowing athletes to showcase their full potential without the constant fear of stepping over the line. This would lead to a more efficient and fluid competition, benefiting both athletes and spectators.

Secondly, the “take-off zone” concept could potentially inject an element of strategic tension into the long jump. Athletes would need to carefully judge their approach and foot placement within the designated zone, adding a layer of tactical nuance to the competition.

The new system, however, is not without its potential drawbacks. Critics argue that introducing a zone could lead to ambiguity and inconsistency in judging calls, particularly in borderline cases. Additionally, some purists may view it as a departure from the traditional format of the long jump, potentially altering the character of the event.

World Athletics CEO Jon Ridgeon recently addressed these concerns, emphasizing the need for a balanced approach. He highlighted the frustration caused by frequent no-jumps under the current system and expressed confidence that the “take-off zone” can be implemented effectively while upholding the integrity of the competition.

Ridgeon mentioned that it will mean that every jump counts and it adds to the jeopardy and the drama of the competition. The potential trial of the “take-off zone” comes amidst broader efforts by World Athletics to modernize and enhance the appeal of track and field events.

The organization has previously explored innovations such as mixed-gender relays and shorter competition formats, aiming to attract new audiences and maintain the sport’s relevance in the ever-evolving sporting landscape.

The decision to implement the trial, however, is not yet finalized. World Athletics is currently gathering feedback from athletes, coaches, and officials before making a definitive call. If approved, the trial is expected to be conducted in select competitions during the upcoming outdoor season.

The potential impact of this proposed change on the long jump remains to be seen. However, the prospect of a more dynamic and athlete-centric competition has generated significant interest and debate within the athletics community. The upcoming trial, if implemented, will provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of the “take-off zone” and its potential to reshape the future of the long jump.