Athletics News

Indoor athletics to be replaced with ‘short track’

Indoor athletics to be replaced with 'short track'

Global governing body plans to scrap traditional indoor track and field records in favour of a new ‘short track’ format which will feature all year round

World Athletics is replacing ‘indoor athletics’ with ‘short track’ to describe events and performances that are set on a 200m track. The move has arisen partly due to the growing trend of city centre competitions and is set to be rubber-stamped at the global governing body’s council meeting in Budapest in August.

World Athletics says its council “is supporting the concept of ‘short track’ competition to allow more flexibility in the setting of 200m tracks, which may, in the future, be constructed outdoors or in temporary city locations, rather than in a traditional indoor arena. Performances set on outdoor or temporary 200m tracks could therefore be recognised as official results for the purpose of records and rankings.”

WA president Seb Coe said: “This change is designed to remove an unintentional barrier to competition innovation, by offering organisers the chance to explore solutions and opportunities which the current rules may discourage.

“Under this new concept, the 200m short track will no longer be confined to the indoor environment, and a world of opportunities will open up for meeting organisers to stage official competition in whatever facilities they have available, either indoors or outdoors, using 200m or 400m tracks.

“This change will allow and actively encourage the possibility for 200m tracks to move to an outdoor environment and will provide a more affordable option to cities, especially where space is in short supply, while stimulating the growth of the sport through investment in new infrastructure.”

It is a bold move by World Athletics that will raise eyebrows in the sport. As the governing body says itself in a statement, the sport has been divided into ‘outdoor’ and ‘indoor’ competition for more than 150 years.

There is debate as to when ‘indoor athletics’ actually began but one of the earliest contenders for the first-ever meeting took place in January 1859 at London’s Lambeth Baths when a former English swimming champion called William Beckwith won a £22 bet by “jumping 500 hurdles, 10 yards apart, under 40 minutes” – an achievement that took him less than 30 minutes and was watched by around 400 spectators.

Whereas England might have been first when it came to staging formal indoor athletics competitions, much of the…

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