THE BIG PICTURE: IAAF begins allowing transfers of allegiance again

Rai Benjamin, born in the Bronx, now eligible to represent the USA!

Following up on its new rules for nationality transfers, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) issued its first group of approvals for athletes to represent “new” countries.

Its “Nationality Review Panel” has received 14 applications thus far and has ruled on eight, allowing five transfers of allegiance and declaring three other athletes eligible for the countries they applied for:

Transfers immediately eligible:
○ Rai Benjamin (from Antigua to U.S.) ~ 19.99 ‘18 in the 200 m, 44.74 in the 400 m ‘18 and 47.02 ‘18 in the 400 m Hurdles;
○ Mike Edwards (from Great Britain to Nigeria) ~ 2.25 m (7-4 1/2) ‘15 in the high jump;
○ Patrick Ike Origa (from Nigeria to Spain) ~ 10.16 ‘18 in the 100 m;
○ Leon Reid (from Great Britain to Ireland) ~ 10.33 ‘17 in the 100 m and 20.27 ‘18 in the 200 m.

Transfer eligible as of 1 August 2019:
○ Pedro Pablo Pichardo (from Cuba to Portugal) ~ 18.08 m (59-4) ‘15 in the triple jump.

Athletes declared eligible for new countries:
○ Haron Lagat (U.S.) ~ 8:15.50 ‘11 in the 3,000 m Steeplechase;
○ Miranda Tcheutchoua (Ireland) ~ 48.20 m (158-5) ‘18 in the Hammer;
○ Weldu Negash Gebretsadik (Norway) ~ 2:09:14 ‘14 in the Marathon.

Pichardo won two World Championships silver medals for Cuba in 2013 and 2015 and with Christian Taylor and Will Claye of the U.S., are the three best triple jumpers in the world.

But Benjamin will make the most immediate impact, giving the U.S. a legitimate medal contenders – and potential world-record setter – in the 400 m Hurdles, as well as a dependable 4×400 m relay runner. He was born in the Bronx, but competed for Antigua (where his father is from) in the 2013 World Youth Champs; he has long stated his desire to compete for the U.S.