Lord Coe backs innovation and rejects idea super spikes have changed athletics

The world records in the men’s and women’s 400m hurdles fell this week.

Nick Mashiter
Wednesday 04 August 2021 09:00
Elaine Thompson-Herah (front left) is among those to have broken records in Tokyo (Martin Rickett/PA)
Elaine Thompson-Herah (front left) is among those to have broken records in Tokyo (Martin Rickett/PA)

World Athletics president Lord Sebastian Coe insists shoe innovation cannot be stopped but doubts if super spikes will really separate athletes.

Karsten Warholm and Sydney McLaughlin smashed their own world records in Tokyo the 400m hurdles to claim Olympic titles.

Rai Benjamin and Dalilah Muhammad, who finished second in the men and women’s races, also beat the old records while double champion Elaine Thompson-Herah claimed an Olympic record in the 100m and a national record in the 200m.

Elaine Thompson-Herah is among those to break records in Tokyo (Martin Rickett/PA)

Super spikes, which offer runners a platform of a carbon plate and foam to help propel them, have been credited with aiding times but Coe remains unsure if it will change the landscape.

He said: “I just think we are in a world of innovation. I don’t want to strangle the innovation that shoe companies our manufacturers are bringing to the table.

“There is a balance – of course there is a balance. We’ve got a system that evaluates the shoes.

“The principle I’ve always tried to maintain is a level playing field and I think we’re going to get to the point where there isn’t a massive advantage in whatever brand you wear.”

Warholm criticised Benjamin’s Nike footwear and labelled them “b********” after their race on Tuesday although confirmed he was working with Puma and the Mercedes F1 team on his own shoe.

He felt it was wrong Nike athletes could run in a slab of responsive Pebax foam in sprint spikes and felt they were taking the credibility away from the spot.

Coe added: “What he’s basically saying is he has a shoe with the technology that suits him. The other technology that is available clearly doesn’t suit him, because if it did then he would have it.”

The track in Tokyo has also been given credit for the fast times. Andrea Vallauri, track designer for Mondo, has said it gives athletes a performance edge of one to two per cent but, again, Coe does not believe it has changed the established order.

Sebastian Coe does not believe shoes will change the shape of the sport (Mike Egerton/PA)

“It’s fast. It’s clearly fast. How do I view it? I’m viewing really talented athletes who are probably running quicker on fast surfaces,” he said, speaking at the Olympic Stadium.

“I don’t think we’re seeing any dramatic change in order. Warholm is running fast but we’ve always known he’s running fast and he’s probably run a little bit quicker on this track.

“So has Sydney, Dalilah, Rai. For as long as I can remember we’ve had conversations about tracks that are fast and tracks that aren’t. I avoided tracks that I knew weren’t fast.”

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