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  • We Need to talk about the Field...

    So, now Eugene is done and dusted, it's time to really address the elephant in the room.

    Including multis, one can basically split the field into 18 segments (4 throws, 4 jumps, multi for both men and women). What I thought I'd do here is give each a score out of 5, to see how bad the rot is...

    The scoring mechanism I'm going for is about trying to assess relative strength compared to both the World and also GB&NI historically (so not expecting everything to be as strong as our middle distance), so it looks like:
    5/5: Event is basically as strong as it has ever been, with multiple athletes able to compete effectively at a Global level and a good pipeline of juniors with good prospects.
    4/5: Event has good World-level talent but possibly not the depth that would be perfect, or there is no big star yet but it looks highly likely the picture might change in a few years.
    3/5: Event has European-level talent but doesn't look like anyone is going to make it beyond that, and depth isn't a disaster but isn't the best.
    2/5: Event is not quite a total write-off with a green shoot or two, but no-one at a top level and not huge prospects of it happening any time soon.
    1/5: Lol what event? Total shambles.

    So let's dive in:
    Jumps
    Long Jump Men: 2/5. We have a couple of men who have broken 8m, but there's no real depth and the only two juniors in the all-time U20 list over the last 5 years have not pushed on. Really missing Greg and Chris, especially as the event is not that great at a World level.
    Long Jump Women: 4/5. Two women in the World final yesterday, Ugen got World Indoor Bronze, and decent domestic competition for places, although I'd have hoped Lucy Hadaway and a few others would be progressing a bit better. Also, we always seem to have good multi-event jumpers, which helps!

    Triple Jump Men: 1/5. I nearly gave this a 2 because of Ben Williams, but he is so inconsistent and injured all the time. Behind him, only two other men over 16m?! In 2019 there were 8. No idea where the next GB 17m jumper is coming from, pretty dire.
    Triple Jump Women: 3/5. Naomi Metzger is looking like she isn't going to be able to become the 14.50m regular we were hoping, and behind her the depth is ok but not amazing, although Temi Ojora was 4th at the European Juniors last year. Libby White, 2nd on the U17 all-time list, is a prospect.

    High Jump Men: 3/5. Clarke-Khan has progressed well even if he was outclassed at the World level, if he is fit Tom Gale is a World-Class talent (remember, he made the Olympic final carrying an injury last year) and there are a couple of decent juniors springing about, although no-one who screams 'next 2.30m jumper' yet.
    High Jump Women: 4/5. It's not quite as it was when KJT, Pooley and Morgan Lake were all clearing 1.95+ a few years back, but we had two women in Eugene (even if Lake couldn't compete), Lake made the Olympic final last year and Zialor, Manson (injured) and KJT have all cleared 1.90. The bench doesn't look great, so risks this could downgrade to a 3 soon unless some talent appears.

    Pole Vault Men: 3/5. This one baffles me. A few years ago it looked like GB would have a swathe of men at 5.60m and above, but people have retired, got injured, plateaued etc. Coppell was 7th in Tokyo and Lazarus Benjamin and Owen Heard are promising, but the event has moved on so much that what looked good before won't cut it.
    Pole Vault Women: 4/5. Bradshaw is obviously World Class but won't be around forever, Caudery is coming good, and there are a decent bunch of juniors in Tutton and Ashurst coming through.

    Throws
    Shot Putt Men: 3/5. Lots of this on Lincoln, and what he proves, in that Shot Putt takes time to develop and you won't necessarily be a World Beater at 20. If Byng or Zatat can follow his trajectory the more the better, while Kambamba Delaney shows real promise.
    Shot Putt Women: 5/5. The first 5! McKinna has made Global finals, 5th to 8th on the UK all-time list competed at the UK Champs this year while Agyepong and Stevens both got medals at the European U18 Championships, and it appears UK coaches are learning the athleticism required to make the event work.

    Discus Men: 3/5. A hard one to track... 2 men at the Worlds including the British record holder, and 5 of the all-time top 20 currently competing is ok, but it's still a little frustrating. Osammor is a big talent, in prospect and size.
    Discus Women: 2/5. Jade Lally gonna keep on Jade Lallying, but behind there isn't a whole lot going on. Lally being at the Worlds prevents this being a 1, let's just say that.

    Hammer Men: 5/5. Finally some good news. Miller and Campbell (when uninjured) are top 2 British all-time and both capable of making major finals (although Miller is yet to get the medal his talent should demand), and there seems to be a steady stream of 70m throws coming through, which means one or two take the next step. The only disappointment is Norris, who looked like he was going to be the next big thing with World Junior Gold in 2018, although there is still time.
    Hammer Women: 5/5. Sure, there's no Sophie Hitchon any more, but when more British women have broken 70m from April 2022 to now than from 20,000 BC to March 2022, you know an event is heading in the right direction (along with 2-6 on the UK all-time list having thrown their PBs in the last year. Odds are at least one of these women gets to 74m+, if not more. Excellent stuff.

    Javelin Men: 1/5. The reason the 1 was there. 74m to win the UK Championships isn't the worst it has ever been, but when Niklas Kaul could rock up and win it mid-decathlon, life ain't great. Maybe Benjamin East could be the 70m+ British junior who finally progresses to 85m, but we've been saying that for years.
    Javelin Women: 1/5. The other reason the 1 was there. Fun fact, more women broke 53m in the Heptathlon final than have in GB this year. Dire.

    Decathlon Men: 2/5. You know what, there are some green shoots here. The introduction of Decathlon into the UK Champs is excellent, and it's pleasing to see some home grown juniors progressing as Seniors in Kendall and Church. Looking younger, if Fotheringham is fit, he looks like he could be a bit special.
    Heptathlon Women: 4/5. This could be a 5, but at the top we've not got a fit Jess or KJT doing the business. But fundamentally, the UK heptathlon conveyor belt keeps on rolling. Mills could hit a 6400 at the Euros, O'Dowda has progressed well and there are a swathe of juniors looking like they could hit 6000 in the next two years. The lineage continues.

    So where does that leave us?
    Overall, 3 5s, 4 4s, 5 3s, 3 2s and 3 1s. But splitting it men and women:
    Men: 1 5, 4 3s, 2 2s and 2 1s
    Women: 2 5s, 4 4s, 1 3 and 1 2.

    This tallies, since looking at entries in the field, especially jumps, our women are generally better (less bad?), but overall it's a not a great picture that the average event is a 3 (and the Hammer is the only real success). The difficulty is, how to resolve this and get the field, or at least more parts of it, looking like the sprints and middle distances, both of which are in rude health. Any ideas?

  • #2
    We need more ThrowsFest/JumpsFest meets, to mirror the excellent BMC series - incentivise people to turn up and to keep competition high.

    We could do more to utilise good coaches like John Shepherd, Ashton Moore, Laura Turner, who have developed talent into success.

    More than anything, though, is talent ID. Too many sprinters are languishing at the ‘just made the national final’ level, when they should try out the jumps (and maybe hurdles, but that’s another thread) - running 6.60m for 60m is not getting you on the plane to a Champs - work on some jumps technique and see what you can do. Too many athletes stick with what’s comfortable, without knowing what else they could do

    Comment


    • trickstat
      trickstat commented
      Editing a comment
      It seems to me that British athletes competing in what might be termed the 'explosive speed events' i.e. sprints, hurdles. horizontal jumps are less likely to switch events than those in many other countries. The exception being those switching to the sprints from the others. It's as if athletes decide at about 16 or so which they will focus on and rarely decide to return to or try another of these events even when it's clear they are not going to get that far in their chosen event. I think it some of this is down to what I would call 'coaching inertia' as in "I am a hurdler and my coach is a hurdles coach (or a hurdles/sprint coach). I know I was pretty good at Long Jump, but I can't leave him (or her) for a long jump coach."

    • Christy93
      Christy93 commented
      Editing a comment
      Agree RE talent ID. I was at the southern champs at Lee Valley back in February and the number of rangy young lads running explosive 60s without ever being likely to make teams was my main takeaway. Why aren't they trying other events? There are a bunch of 8m+ long jumpers languishing in heats and semis in domestic sprints, of that I have no doubt.

    • whatwouldIknow
      whatwouldIknow commented
      Editing a comment
      I have been here before on this. The UKA Competition review group, set up by the board, with all stakeholders involved suggested having a range of short focused meetings, electronic timing, EDM, results straight to phone apps. The funding was to be found. Nigel Holl was a real advocate (remember at the time he was on the inside). These meetings could be purely sprints, all throws, jumps and speed, jumps and throws. This was what a wide ranging survey of athletes demonstrated.

      What happened?

      The clubs/leagues/counties killed the idea stone dead.Would not have a bar of it. There was another proposal that rewarded athletes and their club for the performance level at these or any other meeting but the big beasts (read National and lower tier leagues) despite being part of the group, destroyed it. So blame the clubs, blame the leagues, self-interest and intranigence won the day.

  • #3
    Completely agreed on both your major points Jimbo.

    Both middle distance and increasingly the sprints are now benefitting from some really strong national competitions that good athletes turn up to regularly because they know they will get a lot of it. Just this weekend, the BMC Grand Prix in Trafford saw a 1:44.60 for Ben Pattison and a 15:03 5000m from Calli Thackery, both World standards. 10 years ago this never would have been the case. Similarly, Stratford last weekend saw a 45.27 400m from Charlie Dobson and a set of good domestic 100m races won by Ojie Edoburun in 10.15. These improve standards and accessibility to achieve those standards across the board.

    Regarding talent ID, getting more sprinters to try Long Jump and (women's) short hurdles should be a complete no brainer, just as I'm confident that as middle-distance strength continues to grow, we will see more trying the steeplechase.

    Comment


    • jjimbojames
      jjimbojames commented
      Editing a comment
      There aren’t enough steeplechase races available - and the number of participants is often small. If they could build this up, it would help - there’s a ton of excellent cross country runners super-strong but without the pace for the 1500m who should move up to it, rather than go straight to the 5k / roads

    • Occasional Hope
      Occasional Hope commented
      Editing a comment
      Maybe some sprinters could try TJ too?

  • #4
    Originally posted by jjimbojames View Post
    We need more ThrowsFest/JumpsFest meets, to mirror the excellent BMC series - incentivise people to turn up and to keep competition high.

    We could do more to utilise good coaches like John Shepherd, Ashton Moore, Laura Turner, who have developed talent into success.

    More than anything, though, is talent ID. Too many sprinters are languishing at the ‘just made the national final’ level, when they should try out the jumps (and maybe hurdles, but that’s another thread) - running 6.60m for 60m is not getting you on the plane to a Champs - work on some jumps technique and see what you can do. Too many athletes stick with what’s comfortable, without knowing what else they could do
    On my "Travels in Live Streaming Links" I've noticed the following (not an exhaustive list) ...

    Every year Finland has a big Hammer Festival in Kaustinen and two big Javelin Carnivals in Pihtipudas and Vantaa (the elite competitions are sometimes televised). Both last for 3 or 4 days and have a big coaching camp element to them for all ages as well as having competitions for all ages. I think Finland probably has a lot of lower-profile such events too, especially for the Jav.

    Sweden has a Pole Vault Tour, High Jump Tour and also the Viking Throwing Tour - all of them 4 or 5 meetings a year and again all with lots of age group competitions, going down to say 9 & 10 year olds, as well as having elite competitions.

    Poland has the Monika Pyrek Tour which rather than being an elite Pole Vault Tour, is a series of coaching days and competition for kids (going down to U10s) with Monika doing the coaching herself. Sometimes it seems to attach itself to the various elite street PV meetings in Poland and run for a day or two beforehand.

    In Germany, there's a load of dedicated High Jump meetings, Pole Vault meetings and quite a few for horizontal jumps as well. Often these will have age group competitions included as well. It's a similar situation in the Czech Republic for High Jump meetings especially.

    However, Britain seems to have very little of this sort of thing for field eventers (apart from Scotland who seem to have developed various "Grand Prix" series). In England there's the Bedford International Games (now called BIG-ish), Loughborough LEAP and, I believe, a one-off Javelin festival every year but it seems not much else that provides competition or coaching camps specific to field events and/or aimed at kids.

    Comment


    • #5
      As trickstat indicates early specialisation is a killer. The talented teen sprinter who then starts to plateau around 10.3x as a senior is far more likely to do jumps and be successful if they have already done a fair amount when younger.

      Comment


      • #6
        Think you're being a bit harsh to the Heptathletes myself MysteryBrick. Of all the events - outside of maybe the women's LJ - that's surely the event most likely to medal at a truly elite level. Even with KJT not at her best she was still top 8 in Eugene, which is better than any of the other events did. And she's arguably only the GB number 2 this year - I'm looking forward to the battle between her and Mills in Brum.

        Comment


        • MysteryBrick
          MysteryBrick commented
          Editing a comment
          Yeah, I think I fell foul of the 'good as it's ever been' there. Heptathlon is not a source of worry, that much is definitely true.

      • #7
        Was interesting to hear Backley's thoughts on it the other night. He feels that the biggest problem is we just haven't got enough people taking up these events.

        Comment


        • #8
          Originally posted by Croadymeister View Post
          Was interesting to hear Backley's thoughts on it the other night. He feels that the biggest problem is we just haven't got enough people taking up these events.
          Which is a failure of the administrators and coaching systems to not identify potential talent, as others have said before me.

          Comment


          • #9

            I have said, until blue in the face, that we must do more in the way of proactive Talent Identification.

            I have even created a thread on the topic on this forum [which got very little input] and I have sent several ideas to UK Athletics over the years [two emails to C. Alexander and C. Malcom in recent weeks] and had NO response.

            We do not have a limitless pool from which to draw from, yes, there are other sports that are competing with potential 'field' athletes, but I have offered a myriad ways how talent could be attracted to trying the events.

            Early specialistation I think, anecdotally, is rife among young men in particular, I cited in another thread the fact that Ojie Edoburun had never, NEVER, run a 400 according to his Po10 [yes, I know that is not a field event] but it shows how we 'silo' young male athletes far too soon to their detriment... Although I think we do a good job with young ladies trying different events, as the conveyor belt for multi-eventors is very healthy, and even if they do not stick with multi events it gives them a strong foundation for a good career [we can all name several].

            It is very frustrating, that there has been no formalised talent ID programme, of the depth and range that we saw prior to London 2012, but having not one Team GB top 8 finish in the field at this champs is shocking [I am not including a Hep result, for an athlete who would want to move on from this...]

            I wish someone would listen...
            Last edited by carterhatch; 26-07-22, 19:22.

            Comment


            • #10
              Talent ID - obvs

              Coaching - to stop the ‘post natural talent’ stall

              Not specialising too early

              Retention - the bigger the pool the better. Make events more appealing. If that means lights, music, BBQs or whatever then do it. Where’s the appeal of a league comp where half the competitors are ‘doing it for a point’?

              Culture. This may be the insurmountable issue. We’re a harrier nation - Germany and Finland who love their throwing aren’t. Throwers are celebrated there in the same way we might venerate middle distance stars.

              Legacy. This is the country of Edwards, Idowu, Backley, Whitbread and Sanderson, but look at those events now. Get our greats involved even if it’s more figurehead to attract talented athletes and coaches than hands on coaching.

              Comment


              • MysteryBrick
                MysteryBrick commented
                Editing a comment
                Your culture point is highly relevant and should not be ignored, but I feel better attention to the other points, especially talent ID and Retention, would pay big dividends.

              • Ursus
                Ursus commented
                Editing a comment
                Oh I agree, Mystery. Culture is one of the things holding us back and I’m not sure we can really change that which just means we have to work harder at the other aspects.

            • #11
              The fact that shocked me, as I mentioned elsewhere was if you took the top 3 Europeans from Eugene in each event Britain didn't have a single one in the field, yet managed 23 'medals' (including 10 golds) elsewhere.

              Comment


              • marra
                marra commented
                Editing a comment
                It's not a new thing, in fairness. The 2014 Euros I often cite as one of our most successful games in terms of total medals (12G, 5S, 6B). Even that had ONE field medal (Rutherford) and only 2 field top 8s (Goldie in the spear in 8th was the other).

                We're a fantastic nation on the track but we just don't have the same consistency in the field.

            • #12
              It’s now been a month since the UK Championships.

              It’s peak season yet I can only see that 2 of our top 6 male javelin throwers have competed since. Once each in the cases of Dunderdale and Whiteaker and both had to travel - to Ireland and Belgium respectively.

              The others may all be injured for all I know. But athletes want to compete and the opportunities must be engineered for them to keep them engaged. If they’re not, then don’t be surprised when athletes conclude they have better things to do with their time.

              Back in the day I’d have competed every week given the chance and often travelled reasonable distances to find decent opens. Then again I once played rugby on 4 consecutive days - 3 of them in Amsterdam, but that’s another story!

              Comment


              • #13
                Originally posted by Ursus View Post
                It’s now been a month since the UK Championships.

                It’s peak season yet I can only see that 2 of our top 6 male javelin throwers have competed since. Once each in the cases of Dunderdale and Whiteaker and both had to travel - to Ireland and Belgium respectively.

                The others may all be injured for all I know. But athletes want to compete and the opportunities must be engineered for them to keep them engaged. If they’re not, then don’t be surprised when athletes conclude they have better things to do with their time.

                Back in the day I’d have competed every week given the chance and often travelled reasonable distances to find decent opens. Then again I once played rugby on 4 consecutive days - 3 of them in Amsterdam, but that’s another story!
                Yeah had no one competitive since Backley in early 00's

                Comment


                • #14
                  If we had people at least in qualifying for the likes of Discus, Shot, Javelin, Triple Jump would be something but because the pool isn't there we aren't able to hit qualifying distances

                  Comment


                  • #15
                    Wow, I have not been on this site for a few years but have watched the CWG wit interest. I think there are many valid comments and as always, I believe there is no one answer but within these contributions lies a plethora of solutions. I think that the problem is that ... the sport does not think there is a problem so does not address it. Australia, for example, have outdone the English team in the athletics golds overall so this does not paint a rosy picture of the sport in general. To see the javelin, triple long and high jump in a barren state when we have usually and most recently had successful competitors is disappointing as much as it is perplexing. Someone made a comment about the javelin throwers barely competiing since the UK champs and in some cases, many rarely compete in the season. Then a competitive international and domestic program shoud be developed. Coaching seems to be an issue. To score 1 point for men and women's javelin for example, seems to suggest that there must be an issue with the standard and depth of coaching in that event. However, we had some excellent throwers before so what happened to their coaches? Are they still around? I had a look at the power of 10 and saw that the junior all time lists are full of relatively recent names, so where are they now as seniors? The same can be said of other events too, so it suggests that maybe the young athlete is not being developed into the senior ranks or they are just starting training earlier so reaching their potential earlier. I am not an avid athletics fan, but when I watch the main events on TV, there only a few names that emerge as medal contenders pre event. One more thing that may be added. Many of the throws are much higher standards and in depth than years gone by and I saw Indian, Pakistani, Trinidadian, Kenyan and Nigerian javelin throwers in the CWG top 8 and no English, Welsh, Scottish or N Irish thowers, nor South African, Canadian and New Zealanders. Maybe these nations are experiencing more opportunities and access to equipment, coaching and facilities. I noticed that at the CWG and World champs that many of the track athletes from all over the world were in the USA NCAA system and are benefitting from that. World sport is global these days and maybe we are just falling behind. We are a nation of innovators and in sport, we are one of the top Olympic teams so we can do this. We just need a plan.
                    Last edited by sportsfan; 09-08-22, 15:56.

                    Comment

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