Stuart Weir, who has written about nearly every session, has some thoughts on improving the schedules for upcoming championships. Here’s a his observances after Day five of the 2018 European Championships.
I am sure that scheduling an athletics championship is not an easy task, but I am equally sure that those responsible for the schedule for the Berlin European Championships could have done a better job.
To start with, there is a morning session in the stadium Tuesday to Friday – when people are at work – but not at the weekend. Why?
The women’s 400m heats and semis were on Wednesday morning and Thursday evening with the final on Saturday evening. The women’s 4 by 400 relay had heats on Friday morning and final on Saturday evening, an hour and 40 minutes after the individual final. The women’s 400h is also after the heats of the relay. Is the intention to stop the best individual quarter milers from taking part in the relay? The men’s schedule is slightly better, but still has the heats of the relay before the individual 400m final. To give a practical example, had Laviai Nielsen set her heart of winning a medal in Berlin, she would have been better to have withdrawn from the individual final and run the relay. Of course she didn’t, but why should you have to miss the relay final because you are good enough to reach the final of the individual event?
Jakob Ingebrigsten won both the 1500m and the 5000m, an opportunity denied to women as the two women’s finals (1500m and the 5000m) are on the same evening.
Similarly men are unable to double up in the 800m and 1500m, as the semi-final of the 800m and the final of the 1500m were on the same evening. Not sure the President of the IAAF who used to run both at the Olympics would be too impressed with that.
Some morning sessions have been very long. Thursday started with the discus at 9.30 and ends with the javelin, with Group B starting at 1.50pm. I assume this is following the Diamond League pattern of scheduling the field events when no one is there to watch!
Then there are the medal ceremonies, which are taking place in the centre of Berlin “to send out a signal following the terrorist attack that took place in 2016“. The medal ceremony for the men’s 400h was scheduled for 11.30pm on Thursday evening and the men’s javelin for 11.30pm on Friday. In my book those timings certainly sent out a signal!