Athletics Association plans to change rules: long jump without take-off board?

As of: February 27, 2024 5:13 p.m

The world athletics association World Athletics is planning a rule change: the take-off bar should be abolished and a take-off zone introduced instead. A change about which opinions differ.

So far it’s just a matter of mind games: the world athletics association World Athletics is considering abolishing the traditional take-off bar in the long jump and replacing it with a larger take-off zone.

This is intended to reduce the number of failed attempts. At the World Athletics Championships in Budapest last year, a third of the jumps didn’t count, according to World Athletics managing director Jon Ridgeon: “It doesn’t work, it’s a waste of time.” With the rule change, every jump would count, “which increases the tension and drama of the competition.”

Malaika Mihambo would benefit from a rule change

Olympic long jump champion Malaika Mihambo ended her short indoor season last week with a victory at the ISTAF Indoor in Berlin and a distance of 6.95 meters. It was her longest jump this winter and, as so often in her career, it was achieved in the decisive final and sixth round, after three previous invalid attempts. The take-off bar and Mihambo are not necessarily best friends.

In the four indoor competitions she only managed three valid attempts; at the ISTAF Indoor in Düsseldorf she was eliminated from the competition the day after her 30th birthday without a valid attempt. “One of them would have been over seven meters,” said her coach Uli Knapp.

With 6.95 meters, long jumper Malaika Mihambo was able to prevail against her competition at the Istaf Indoor in Berlin

Measurement technology shows: jumps would have been further

Using the latest measurement technology in athletics, it is now possible to determine exactly how far a jump would have been if it had been valid. Mihambo would not have defended her title at the 2022 World Championships in Eugene (USA) with 7.12 meters, but would have become world champion with 7.34 meters and would have won the gold medal at the subsequent European Championships in Munich instead of the silver medal with 7.03 meters .

National coach Knapp: “I see it very ambivalently”

The national women’s long jump coach is ambivalent about the possible rule change. “On the one hand, it’s very interesting that you can determine the best distance and really know who jumped the furthest. At the same time, the accuracy on the take-off board is what makes the long jump possible,” says Knapp.

Always at the side of long jump Olympic champion Malaika Mihambo during competitions: coach Ulrich Knapp

What makes the long jump so fascinating for him is the consistency in the run-up and take-off: “The run-up is the most important control component. That is part of the long jump discipline and that is also evaluated!”

Busemann: “You have to do it in six tries”

A view that athletics sports show expert Frank Busemann also shares. A drop zone would be conceivable for him in the all-around competition, but not in the specialist competition: “That’s what makes the long jump special. The fight with the beam, it’s not automatically the best athlete who wins, but the one who makes the longest jump valid. That You have to do it in six tries!”

If the rules change and long jumpers jump from a take-off zone in the future, Knapp could live with it, as he explains in the Sportschau interview: “Sometimes jumpers go home undervalued, they can jump much further than the raw competition result shows .”

Knapp has been looking after Olympic champion Mihambo for almost four years. He suspects that the World Athletics Federation not only wants to reduce the number of failed attempts, but also sees a need for action for another reason: the increased risk of injury when jumping.

Risk of injury on the take-off board

Sophisticated video and measurement technology has now replaced the plasticine footprint as proof of a step on the take-off board. Slippery plastic and plywood bars now lie in the recess in the take-off bar, where the plasticine mixture used to lie. A source of danger for the athletes, warns the experienced trainer.

“I can remember ten injuries in recent years that have happened during jumps. A broken fibula, athletes have slipped on the plasticine. Some athletes also fell over at the World Championships in Budapest last year, and there were a lot of injuries.” so close.

  • Malaika Mihambo manages to finish the indoor season confidently at the Istaf Indoor
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Plastic insert board for a safe jump

At the ISTAF Indoor in Berlin, athlete manager Marc Osenberg quickly got creative: He had a plastic insert board placed in the recess and covered with tartan: “The spikes could grip onto it easily, it worked wonderfully.”

For Knapp, however, the question also arises: If you make such a rule change in the long jump, wouldn’t other disciplines also want to follow suit? Would there then be a discussion about a launch zone in the javelin throw or valid attempts in the shot put despite trespassing?

A lot of technical effort is required

The world athletics association World Athletics wants to test the planned rule change first with second-tier athletes. Knapp doesn’t know exactly how this will work. Selected international meetings would be conceivable for him. “But such video control requires enormous technical effort for the measuring equipment. Who has these technical capabilities? Such equipment can only be made available in perhaps five percent of competitions.”

For Knapp, one thing is certain: there is either a drop zone or a jump bar; in any case, things have to be consistent. He cannot imagine that the rule change will come very soon, possibly as early as 2026, as planned by the World Athletics Federation: “Because I also believe that a lot of people will speak out against it. All records would then be invalid in one fell swoop and I believe that , very few people would like that.”