Olympics athletic event may never look the same with plans to trial radical new format

THE LONG jump competition will undergo a radical change – as athletes take a leap of faith into the future.

World Athletics bosses are trialling a new format where long jumpers use a “take-off zone” rather than a take-off board.

World Athletics chiefs are planning major changes in the long jump eventCredit: Keith Campbell – The Sun Glasgow
Trials will start taking place in the lower competitionsCredit: Getty
Long jumpers will use a “take-off zone” rather than a take-off board.Credit: Getty

Data collected during the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest showed that a THIRD of all attempts were recorded as no-jumps.

The rule experiment will take place throughout this year in lower-level competitions and jumps will be measured from the front of the take-off foot within that zone.

If the tests are successful – and if the competitors fully embrace and love the concept – then it could become permanent for the event from 2026 onwards.

Jon Ridgeon, 57, a former British athlete and now CEO of World Athletics, said: “We’re looking at all of the disciplines, particularly the field events, and going: ‘Right, how do we make them better?’

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“At the World Championships in Budapest last summer, a third of all the jumps were no-jumps where athletes stepped over the front of the take-off board.

“Well, that doesn’t work. That’s a waste of time. So we’re testing at the moment a take-off zone rather than a take-off board.

“We’ll measure from where the athlete takes off to where they land in the pit.

“That means every single jump counts. It adds to the jeopardy and drama in the competition.

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“At the same time we’re working out ways we can get instant results so you don’t have to wait 20-30 seconds before the result pops up.

“How can we speed up the whole competition? It’s a whole range of innovation we’re looking at based on hopefully robust data.”

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Britain have had three Olympic long jump champions – Mary Rand (1964), Lynn Davies (1964) and Greg Rutherford (2012).

The men’s world record is 8.95 metres set by American Mike Powell in Tokyo in 1991 while the top women’s mark of 7.52 metres was established in 1988 by Russian Galina Chistyakova.


Ridgeon – who won 110 hurdles silver at the 1987 World Championships in Rome ahead of Colin Jackson – accepts that the traditionalists may not be happy.

Especially as the event was part of the 1896 Olympics for the men while women starting jumping at the 1948 London Games.

Speaking on the Great British Bosses series on the Anything but Footy podcast, he said: “We’ll spend this year testing it in real life circumstances with very good athletes.

“If it doesn’t pass testing, we’ll never introduce it.

Measures have to pass testing

“So, we aren’t going to introduce things on a whim because one of us thinks it’s a good idea.

“Yes, it’s going to be based on good data. Yes, we’re going to test it really well.

“If you have dedicated your life to hitting that take-off board perfectly and then suddenly we replace it with a take-off zone, I totally get that there might be initial resistance.

“As long as it is based on good testing and good data, I think eventually it’ll work through.

“It will not be without its controversy. You cannot make change in a sport that was basically invented 150 years ago without some controversy. But I think it’s worth doing.

“Ultimately this is about not this year, but making sure we have got a sport that is hopefully fit for purpose for another 150 years.”

In the summer of 2026, World Athletics will introduce a new global competition that will run in the years where there are no World Championships or Olympic Games.


This World Cup of Athletics will be staged with countries pitted against each other in semi-final and final stages. The host city will be announced this year.

+ Listen to the whole interview which is part of the Great British Bosses series on the Anything but Footy podcast

Source: Athletics -


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