ATHLETICS: 2020 Diamond League schedule announced; Vaporfly shoes studied; Flanagan retires

Retired as one of the best ever: American Shalane Flanagan (Photo: Flangan Instagram account)

With the close of the World Championships in Doha on 6 October, you would think that things would slow down a little for the IAAF (soon to be World Athletics). Not a chance.

(1) The Diamond League schedule for 2020 was announced, with 15 total events, including a one-day final at the Weltklasse Zurich meet. The timetable by month:

April (1): 17th-Doha (QAT),

May (5): 10th-China (venue tbd); 16th-Shanghai (CHN); 24th-Stockholm (SWE); 28th-Rome (ITA); 31st-Rabat (MAR).

June (3): 7th-Eugene (USA); 11th-Oslo (NOR); 13th-Paris (FRA).

July (2): 4th-London (GBR); 10th-Monaco (MON).

August (2): 16th-Gateshead (GBR); 20th-Lausanne (SUI).

September (2): 4th-Brussels (BEL); 11th-Zurich (SUI).

A new series, to be called the World Athletics Continental Tour, will replace the IAAF World Challenge meets, although the difference between the two is not yet clear. The event dates and venues have not yet been announced.

(2) The newest argument in the sport is over shoes.

Versions of Nike’s 2017-introduced Vaporfly shoe series – you can buy models of this style at $250 each from Nike and others – were used by Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) in his sub-2:00:00 marathon time trial and by countrywoman Brigid Kosgei in her 2:14:04 world record at the Chicago Marathon earlier this month.

The “fairness” of these shoes has been called into question, since they have special padding that provides more spring and takes in some of the shock of running long distances. The IAAF is not only aware of the issue, but has a working group looking at it. reported an IAAF statement that included: “The IAAF Technical Committee has established a working group to consider the issues and, if necessary, recommend changes to the technical rules. The working group includes two former athletes alongside experts in science, ethics, footwear, biomechanics and law, and is expected to report back by the end of the year.”

A suggestion floated in the British Journal of Sport Medicine was to have the IAAF regulate midsole thickness of shoes, similar to the approach already taken for heel thickness for shoes used in the jumping events.

But just as the plastic LZR Racer swimsuits initially introduced by Speedo in 2008 were joined by suits from competitors shortly after (before such suits were banned altogether), other companies are reportedly getting ready to introduce their own advanced designs to compete with the Vaporfly.

(3) The nominations are in for the men’s and women’s World Athlete of the Year, with fan voting open until 4 November for the men and 5 November for the women:

The men (more here):
Donavan Brazier (USA/800 m)
Christian Coleman (USA/sprints)
● Joshua Cheptegei (UGA/distances)
● Timothy Cheruiyot (KEN/1,500 m)
● Steven Gardiner (BAH/400 m)
Sam Kendricks (USA/pole vault)
● Eliud Kipchoge (KEN/marathon)
● Noah Lyles (KEN/sprints)
● Daniel Stahl (SWE/discus)
Christian Taylor (USA/triple jump)
● Karsten Warholm (NOR/400 m hurdles)

The women (more here)
● Beatrice Chepkoech (KEN/steeplechase)
● Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (JAM/sprints)
● Katrina Johnson-Thompson (GBR/heptathlon)
● Sifan Hassan (NED/distances)
● Brigid Koskei (KEN/marathon)
● Mariya Lasitskene (RUS/high jump)
● Malaika Mihambo (GER/long jump)
Dalilah Muhammad (USA/400 m hurdles)
● Salwa Eid Naser (BAH/400 m)
● Hellen Obiri (KEN/distances)
● Yulimar Rojas (VEN/triple jump)

Voting will be done online for fans, at the IAAF sites on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, the fan vote will count for 25% and the IAAF Council (50%) and IAAF Family (25%) will vote by e-mail.

In addition, the finalists for the International Fair Play Award have been posted, with the winner to be announced on 23 November:

Men’s Pole Vault: Mondo Duplantis (SWE), Piotr Lisek (POL) and Sam Kendricks (USA)
Women’s Pole Vault: Sandi Morris (USA)
Women’s Sprints: Dina Asher-Smith (GBR)
Men’s 5,000 m: Braima Suncar Dabo (GBS)

More details about each moment is here.

Although not a surprise, American distance star Shalane Flanagan announced her retirement on 21 October on Instagram, writing in part:

“With happy tears I announce today that I am retiring from professional running.

“From 2004 to 2019 I’ve given everything that’s within me to this sport and wow it’s been an incredible ride!

“I’ve broken bones, torn tendons, and lost too many toenails to count. I’ve experienced otherworldly highs and abysmal lows. I’ve loved (and learned from) it all.

“Over the last 15 years I found out what I was capable of, and it was more than I ever dreamed possible.”

She further announced that she has become a coach for the Bowerman Track Club, noting that “I am lucky, as I know already, that coaching will bring me as much joy and heartache that my own running career gave me.”

Flanagan made an indelible impression as U.S. women became competitive on the world stage, taking a silver medal (originally bronze) in the Olympic 10,000 m in Beijing in 2008, a bronze medal in the 2011 World Cross Country Championships and winning the 2017 New York City Marathon, at age 36. She was a three-time U.S. Olympian in 2008-12-16.

She will be remembered as one of the finest American distance runners ever.