See M50 French sprinter’s 7-point plan to improve WMA worlds
Itâ€™s not exactly the Storming of the Bastille, but a 1,300-word comment posted by M50 sprinter/hurdler Francois Bontemps is the equivalent for our sport. He shared a note sent to World Masters Athletics on how to improve world meets. His manifesto makes total sense. Itâ€™s reprinted below, slightly edited, since he wrote in a second language. Francois barely missed making the 200-meter final at 2015 Lyon worlds, so heâ€™s a serious athlete. He shares the name of a famous general, so I think WMA should lissen up â€” lest the 21st century Francois lead another charge of the ramparts.
Hereâ€™s what he posted. Your comments are welcome, too!
To avoid to be consider only as a negative criticism, here are the proposal I sent to WMA in order to improve Championship organizations (and credibility of Master tracks also!)
Some proposals to improve Championship organizations.
Because Championships are on WMA or EMA responsibility (this is WMA or EMA who choose cities), I think you are able to update some rules to avoid disappointment on the following subjects:
- Free transportation
- Results communication
- Confirmation of participation
- Detailed schedule
- Respect qualification rules
Proposal 1: free transportation. An â€śeasyâ€ť solution could be to â€śobligeâ€ť an organization to provide a free transportation. In fact, I think that most of complaints are because athletes have discovered that transports will not be free .. only 2 week before first event.
So my proposal:
Oblige organization to be clear enough about free transportation (or not) before to register (3 months before)
Proposal 2: Results . It is a pity not to be able to get results (and start lists) before a long time. It was worse in Lyon because events were splits in several stadiums. EMA has solved this issue: FIDAL services (Sigma ?) is now mandatory for European championships (To be confirmed). We can follow results and start list in live, results are very pretty and easy to reach and we also can get finish line picture.
So my proposal:
Oblige organization to use this service (or a similar oneâ€™s after validation by EMA/WMA)
Proposal 3: Confirmation of participation. When there is no confirmation and because heats have been built on registration bases even if people were not present (and there are always 25-35% of people missing) we can have heats with only 2 or even one people! Other issue, competition is not really fair because some â€śluckyâ€ť guys have been able to run at 70 % to go in semi-final and at same time some other were obliged to run 100%. Same thing for jumps, on High jump by example, 2 competitions at same time but because more people on one group, the high was not at same high at same time.
So my proposal:
Put in place a confirmation to build heats only with people ready to compete. Of course this can cause a constraint for athletes: to be present sooner: For that 2 options:
- Have a very good software system to build heats/groupâ€¦ in a short time (as in any national meetingâ€¦)
- Allow people to be confirmed by team manager, friendsâ€¦
Proposal 4: Detailed schedule. In order to allow people to organize their championships, detailed schedule has to be available 6 weeks before start of competition. To have enough time to build it regarding number of people registered, it is mandatory to set registration deadline sooner
Proposal 5: Respect qualification rules. In WMA technical rules (Appendix K, page 23 and as follow) the number of rounds and qualification mode is clearly defined. On some championships, rules are defined or updated sometime on call room. To avoid misunderstanding my proposal:
Define rules in technical manual, following those as defined in Appendix K for outdoor (for indoor, to avoid 4 rounds, because of shortest duration of championships, rules can be changed but in any case all has to be written in technical manual)
Proposal 5B is: cancelation of round. If a round is suppressed because of lack of attendees, rules have to be clearly written in technical manual and not decided case by case at last time. My proposal:
Define rules in technical manual (and cancel semi-final instead of heats).
Now, master are integrated in World Championships in Pekin, some events are added on diamond league, I hope WMA will put in place actions in order to put at same level (rigor, professionalism) Master athletics as other athletics event.
Proposal 6: relays organization (outdoor). It is used to close championships with relays 4Ă—100 and 4Ă—400. However, because of the duration of championships and common schedule, 4Ă—100 relays happened often 8 or 10 days after 100m. So because a lot of masters have family, job (so not long vacations), sprinters have to choose between individual event and relays. A lot of relays races are run without best sprinters. My proposal:
Schedule 4Ă—100 relay first Sunday (between 100 and 200)
No change for masters used to stay during all championship, for others they can participate on individual and relay with â€śonly 4 or 5 daysâ€ť of vacation (instead of 12 as for Lyon by example or 10 as for Izmir)
Some explanations of points
Proposal 1 and 2: Easy to understand Lyon is THE bad example, with a lot of people disappointed through social networks. Transportation issue and lack of live result was worse because masters were split through 4 different locations.
Proposal 3: Confirmation: For this also, Lyon is the bad example. Before to explain some history. Here in France when we are allowed to participate on meeting with other athletes, master athletics is not really considered as athletics or competition but more hobby or spare-time. As many of my partners I was expected that WMAC in Lyon will change the mind of some trainers, athletesâ€¦ The first Sunday, in Balmont, heats of 200â€¦ and what they have seen: some heats with only 2 or 3 people, one guy (alone in his heat) qualified in 29â€ť28 with some other eliminated in 24â€ť50â€¦ So they are now sure that Master athletics is closer to circus than a real championship (even if they have been impressed by some good results).
Proposal 4: bad example, Ancona. Schedule only available 2 weeks before races.. Some competitors have discovered that they will not be able to use public transportation (if they have race soon or late (after 8pm). Some other grouped to share accommodation costs have discovered that they have schedules â€śdifficult to combineâ€ť. Because Ancona is a small city and a lot of competitors have to find accommodation outside city it is difficult to manage this situation in only 2 weeks..(or they have to stay full day in stadium)
Proposal 5: Lyon: itâ€™s a pity for some events (200m) to have only 20% of attendees able to go on second round (example 200m): Duration of competition, and also because of 4 different locations, it could be easy to add an other round. Other example, for some jump, no qualification round. 2 areas for competitors and the 8 betterâ€™ oneâ€™s with 3 additive tries: but one group finish 1 hour before other one.. Same kind of issue on throwâ€¦These problems never happen with an additive qualification round
Proposal 5: example Izmir : lack of attendees on 100m M45 and M50. For M50, heats maintained Saturday and semi-final canceled on Sunday. For M45, heats canceled on Saturday but semi-final (transformed in heats) maintained on Sunday.
Other example, Torun M50 800m. Semi-final canceled and 3 heats: but rules for qualifying not following rules defined in technical manual (First + 5 best times instead of 2 first + 2 best time). These rules explained â€śonlyâ€ť in call room: one â€śbest runnerâ€ť (B. Zavattero) was victim of this misunderstanding.
Last example: Ancona, 400m, M50: 3 semi-finals: qualification â€śwritten on computerâ€ť : 2 first of each. In reality, first was qualified plus 3 best time: one Italian guy was not aware and not qualifiedâ€¦ At same time, M55: 2 semi-final, qualification first + 4 best time. Where is logic?
Proposal 6: Next World championships are scheduled in September (so â€śoutsideâ€ť common vacation period): it will be difficult for people working to spend 2 weeks of vacations to run both on individual races and on relays. This is the case for Perth and this is the reason number one for me (and I know also for some friends of mine) to not participate.