Commonwealth Games silver medalist long jumper Murali Sreeshankar took issue with missing out on a gold. Sreeshankar and eventual gold winner Laquan Nairn from the Bahamas had identical best jumps of 8.08m. Nairn was declared the gold winner as his second best of 7.98m was better than Sreeshankar’s 7.84m.
According to the rules, if two jumpers are tied at the same distance, the one with the best second best attempt will be ranked first.
Sreeshankar, 23, said he initially thought that on his fourth attempt, he had made a big valid jump that would have earned him gold. However, his jump was judged a foul under the new system.
“I was very surprised, you can’t call it (fourth jump) a fault because I never went over the foul board, but she (pits officer) explained to me the exact jumping position, movement of my foot crossing the perpendicular board, said Sreeshankar in a virtual interaction.
“If it was the previous system we’ve had in recent years, it wouldn’t have been called a violation,” said the national record holder (8.36m).
He said the conditions during the CWG long jump final were not ideal as it was a bit cold and windy.
“Performance on the specific day is important. At major championships, winning a medal is the priority.
“I completely messed up the first three jumps, trying to make safe jumps (by leaving a good gap). My focus after that was to be on the podium with good jumps in the last three attempts. ” Sreeshankar was first introduced to the new system in March at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade where he finished seventh.
“Previously the foul board was at a 45 degree angle, but from this year it was just a perpendicular plate between the foul board and the starting board. So it’s not ideal to have a perfect start in the current scenario.
“If you hit the starting board with an inch or millimeter left and if the foot goes through into the starting corner, it automatically goes over that perpendicular plate and is called a foul.”
Athletes miss out on medals under new system
The new system (which also regulates the triple jump) came into effect on November 1, 2021 after the TUSEN Council gave its approval.
In the old manual system, a no-jump is called if an athlete touches the ground past the starting line during takeoff. A plasticine board set at an angle of 45 degrees has long been used to help with such decisions.
“Under the new technical rule, if any part of the starting shoe or foot breaks the vertical plane of the starting line, it will be a failure on take-off. It was felt that this would be more understandable and easier to judge,” the TUSEN said in a statement. September 2020 said in a press release.
“The old rule occasionally allowed toecaps to visibly cut the line without marking plasticine. In the future, such moments will be errors and the plasticine board, if used, should be set at 90 degrees.” Sreeshankar believes the laser-based system introduced last year to assess take-off errors has caused many athletes to “miss out on medals”, but supported the new technology, saying it will eliminate human errors in the sport.
“The number of mistakes has been quite frequent under the current technology, many jumpers make good jumps that are (judged) mistakes. Many athletes have missed a medal because of this new system,” said Sreeshankar.
“During the recent World Championships, silver medalist (and reigning Olympic champion) Miltiadis Tentoglou (of Greece) had experienced a similar kind of mistake. He thought he had never stepped over the plasticine board, but it was considered a mistake.
“His coach and my father (also Sreeshankar’s coach) talked about it. Most athletes are quite disappointed with the new kind of system being introduced.”
‘New system removes human error, will have to live with it’
Sreeshankar, who finished seventh at the World Championships, added that the new system will eliminate human error and athletes will have to adapt to the technology.
“With the new technology, human errors can be avoided. Also during the measurement there is no one to physically measure the jumps, it is a laser measurement system. A camera is mounted in the well and the measurement is done automatically.” On how to live with the new system, Sreeshankar said: “Instead of going for the perfect start, we can leave about 4-5cm behind the board just to be safe.
“Trying for a perfect start with zero centimeters left is not going to be ideal in the current technological system. Since we have to rely on technology more than the naked eye, we have to accept it.” Sreeshankar said he will compete in the Monaco stage of the Diamond League on August 10. He also competed in the TUSEN Tour Silver Label event in Lausanne on August 30.
AFI President Adille Sumariwalla Supports New System
The president of the Athletics Federation of India and member of the TUSEN Council Adille Sumariwalla said the introduction of the system will stop the manipulation of measurements. “This system is perfect because it’s a laser-based takeoff and measurement system. This will eliminate all human error and even manipulation, as we’ve seen in the past,” he said.
“At the World Championships in Rome, after many years, a medal was taken from an Italian and given to another who really deserved it. There is no human touch with this system and there is no chance of manipulation.” When asked when the system will be allowed to come to India, he said: “It is a very expensive system. It is currently used at Olympics, World Championships and Diamond League (in addition to CWG).
“It will also come to India in a while.”
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