FALSE START #8 by David E. Ortman

[July 2000 National Masters News Reprinted by Permission]


Track and Field has its origins in the ancient Olympic Games. That doesnít mean that some new events couldnít be added. The following is a short list of possibilities using existing equipment in novel ways:

The Real High Jump
I always thought it was strange that pole vault equipment is so expensive and is only used for one event. How about covering the "plant" hole and using the pole vault runway, pit and bar for a real high jump competition. The idea is to run, jump up and knock the bar off with your fingers at increasingly higher heights. No flopping. No straddle. Just pure "high" jumping technique. As per usual, you get three tries at each height. Might get some basketball players out for this event. And best of all for the officials, when you miss, you donít have to replace the bar.

Javelin for accuracy
We may no longer think of track and field as a warlike activity, but why else are javelins thrown? How about javelin throwing for accuracy? You could have archery targets set up at 20m, 30m, 40m, 50m and 60m and give points for hitting the target. Kind of like a giant game of pub darts. Or balloons could be staked out at the same distances and points given for coming the closest. Then we could say, "Swifter, Higher, Stronger, STRAIGHTER."

Shot Put Bowling
Tens of thousands of people still bowl. We need an Olympic Track & Field event for them. Line up the shot bowlers on the finish line. Place a hurdle 50 meters up the home straight-away. Gentle bowl the shot put at the hurdle, one point for getting it under the hurdle. Most points in six tries wins and better yet, no gutter bowls or nasty 7-10 spares to muck things up. No points for trying to carve out finger holes, though.

Discus for Distance
Line up the discus competitors on the finish line. Roll the discus up the home straightway. Winner is the one who can roll the discus the furthest while still keeping the discus on the track. This would also be fun at indoor meets with banked tracks. See who can roll the discus up and around the banked corner of the track.

Pole Vaulting for Distance
Here is another possibility for the pole vaulters. Instead of pole vaulting for height, pole vault for distance. After all, half the work is lugging those long poles to a meet. Why not get some more work out of them? Apparently this was (is?) a sport in Holland, also known as canal jumping. I suppose you could also utilize the steeplechase water pit as the landing zone for real crowd appeal.

Long Jump with weights
Apparently the ancient Olympians thought they could get more distance long jumping with weights. Somewhere along the line, weights were disallowed. Seems like an interesting combination that would be entertaining to watch.

400m Skateboard Dash
In order to attract the skateboard crowd, how about a 400m Skateboard dash? Padding and helmets would be mandatory, of course, as skateboarders zoomed around the track, elbows flying. Why with this event alone, a television crew might actually show up.

Stadium Racing
One reason meets run long is that the 3K, 5K and 10K events are, well, so long. How about running them up, down and around the stadium steps instead while other events are happening on the track? This way the crowd could get a real close look at their favorite sweaty athlete.

Backward Hurdling
As a pure crowd pleaser. I can think of no better event than the backward hurdles. The idea is to try and run the 400m hurdles backwards. Oh, the running backwards is no mean trick, but what kind of technique could you use to actually get over the hurdles with a backward motion?

O.K., one more event and we have ourselves a new modern Decathlon. Anyone want to contribute some ideas, send them to me at deortman@msn.com

"False Start Index" OR NEXT COLUMN