World Athletics Leader needs ‘Innovation Not Stifled’ Controversial shoes worn by several record-breaking runners
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe has rejected concerns that the controversial new track and field spikes from Nike, which have recently produced a string of world records, could provide an unfair advantage at the Olympics. Tracks to Track and Field have changed the Great Shoe Battle, but Nike Still Leads the FieldRead MoreLord Coe said he was “pretty quiet” about the game-changing spikes and did not want to “stifle innovation,” even though in October Joshua Cheptegei and Letesenbet Gidey broke the 10,000m men’s and 5,000m women’s records within an hour of each other.
With Mo Farah and Sifan Hassan both setting one-hour records for men and women in fresh Nike shoes in Brussels in September, it was suggested that the company could experience similar supremacy on the track between 2016 and 2019 as it did in the marathon, with other brands theoretically taking years to catch up. ‘I’m not afraid of it,’ he said, stressing that trying to outdo each other is a positive thing for shoe manufacturers. “I remember a period in the mid-2000s when Adidas were the kings of the podium, especially in distance,” he said. “These things, then, come in stages.
And there is a built-in trend in which footwear companies graciously continue to invest a lot of capital into footwear research and growth.
“And I’m glad they’re doing that. “Running hits crossroads as mainstream infects Nike-led footwear arms race | Jonathan LiewRead moreLast year, World Athletics adopted new regulations for spikes that limit the use of plates and enable the sole to be no thicker than 30 mm. However, Coe said that if they prove unreasonable, the company also has a mechanism in place to “permanently review these spikes”
Coe also denied that the sport had been weakened by the string of world records on the road in recent years – including, most recently, four men running the fastest half-marathon in November. He stressed, “I don’t think we’ve reached the point where world records are handed out like confetti,” “And when I go back to the 1930s, Rudolf Harbig, who ran 1:46 and over 800m on a cinder track, is still amazed.
And I still marvel at Peter Snell, who recorded world records and some on grass tracks well below 1:45.
In the meantime, Derek Clayton ran a world marathon record [2:09:36] in shoes that you wouldn’t even walk in in the local park. “I’m pretty relaxed about it right now.”
And the trade-off is always that we do not want to stifle creativity, and I think this is a personal instinct of mine, too.