ATHLETICS Panorama: Six win streaks of note carry into 2019, and is the IAAF winter-sports crazy?

South Africa's Olympic and World Champion Caster Semenya

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) pays a lot of attention to statistics and it’s good that they do. Because of it, they can offer some unique storylines, such as five athletes who enter 2019 with winning streaks of 10 or more meets.

They include:

● 29: Caster Semenya (RSA) in 800 m finals (since Oct. 2015);
● 14: Shaunae Miller-Uibo (BAH) in all sprints (since Aug. 2017);
● 13: Lijiao Gong (CHN) in the shot put (since Mar. 2018);
● 10: Abderrahmane Samba (QAT) in the 400 m hurdles (in 2018)
● 10: Caterine Ibarguen (COL) in the long jump (2) and triple jump (8) in 2018.

The story also noted the remarkable streak of Kenyan marathon world-record holder Eliud Kipchoge, who has won nine marathons in a row beginning in April 2014.

Major streaks that ended in 2018 were Russian high jumper Mariya Lasitskene’s 45-meet win streak over two years, and a 42-meet streak for Polish hammer ace Anna Wlodarczyk from 2014-17 that ended in her first meet in 2018.

The IAAF announced two new events to be included in the 2019 World Relays in Yokohama (JPN) in May: the Mixed Shuttle Hurdles and the 2x2x400 m.

The Shuttle Hurdles is run for men and women, but the mixed race will be a new gimmick, with the women running an extra 10 m at the finish beyond their normal 100 m hurdles distance.

The 2x2x400 m requires two runners on each team – one man, one woman – to run 400 m twice. It replaces the 4×800 m, which the IAAF’s announcement said “proved to have limited appeal at previous editions of the World Relays.”

The IAAF is showing a lot of respect for winter sports in this newest event, which is a near-duplicate of what is done in Cross Country Skiing for the Team Sprint. Recently, the IAAF approved a new approach for the 1,500 m in the Decathlon for the World U-20 Championships in Nairobi (KEN) in 2020, in which the athletes are stagger-started so that the winner of the 1,500 m is the winner of the event. That’s what’s done in Nordic Combined in what is known as the “Gundersen” system.

Can’t wait to see how the IAAF incorporates downhill ramps – a la ski jumping – into the long jump and triple jump!

These changes firmly place the World Relays in the category of entertainment and not serious track & field. The problem with the event now is that the 4×100 m and 4×400 m events are qualifiers for the World Championships in Doha, so it’s now partly serious and partly a playday. That’s a recipe for most national federations to simply ignore all but the two qualifying events.

The annual Prefontaine Classic will be held at Stanford’s Cobb Track and Angell Field on 30 June this year.

The move is necessary due to the construction of the new Hayward Field on the Oregon campus, slated to be completed in the first quarter of 2020.