This is the third column by Deji on topics of the week. Deji calls this, Deji’s Doodles.
Heather McLean, Josette Norris, Elle Purrier, photo by Kevin Morris / @kevmofoto
World Athletics sanction on Russia, USA still remains an unstoppable force in indoor athletics and Yulimar Rojas proves she’s untouchable in Madrid
The last one week in the World of athletics has provided us a chain of events that has threatened to put the world at a halt as Russia incurred the sanction of World athletics after their invasion of Ukraine, the U.S Indoor Track and field Championships took place last weekend with some surprise winners that still promises to dominate at the World Championships, while Olympic Triple Jump Champion Yulimar Rojas showed us once again, she’s from another planet.
Athletics has led from the front with regards to doping by banning Russia since 2015 and now takes a front foot by banning them from the sport after Ukraine Invasion
Athletics might not be the most popular sport in the world but its reach and powerful voice were in full force once again when it recently took a stand by banning Russia from the sport after its invasion of Ukraine in the last couple of weeks.
The sport still has the ability to – organically, from a grassroots level – be a huge force for good. A force to push messages of peace and solidarity and, in doing so, place upward pressure on threats to either.
When other World sporting federations gave a slap on the wrist on Russia initially, it was World athletics that took a stand, first with a statement condemning the action of war from Russia and then an outright sanction.
It was the least they could do. No, really, it was. The very least. The barest minimum. And for World athletics, it wasn’t the first time they found themselves in this situation. In 2015, Russia became the first country to be banned from international competition because of doping offenses which came in the wake of damning revelations by the World Anti-Doping Agency of systematic doping and cover-ups in Russia.
Yes, a drug-infested sport doesn’t come close to innocent people being murdered by an act of war, but athletics has always had very little tolerance for such actions.
Belarus was included in the sanctions because it has been a key staging area for Russian troops.
The moment nations like Poland, Sweden, and Czech Republic announced they would not participate in sporting competition if Russia were included, the moment they reiterated that stance even after other federations tried to weasel a way around it, this war was at an end.
The aftermath of the doping scandal that saw Russia excluded from the sport came with some leniency for some of their athletes as long they can irrefutably prove they were clean saw them compete as Authorized Neutral Athletes (ANA) in World Athletics Series events subsequently, but there was a final full stop to them competing after this.
No doubt some will find this terribly unfair on Russia’s athletes. They may point out, for instance, that Russian High Jumper, Mariya Lasitskene, who has dominated the sport over the last half a decade, can’t control what her country does in the political sphere. But it’s just a larger matter of the end game.
We can all call equivalencies from the armchair and feel very smart, but in case you hadn’t noticed there is a country in ruins. As everyone knows, the more you apply pressure on something, the more willingness for it to crack. That’s what these sanctions are all about.
In the end, these athletes are just pawns in the grand scheme of things. As long as sports exist as a means to unify people and countries together, any act of war by any of its members should be met with stiff sanctions like this. No negotiating.
Truth is, you cannot exist in a vacuum. Russia knows this, but it doesn’t matter, entirely. At the moment, World Athletics have shown their hands early and it was the right way to go as they did in 2015.
The USA still remains a force to be reckoned with in indoor athletics
The 2022 U.S Indoor Track and field Championships were held last weekend at the newly built podium facility in Spokane, Washington, and as usual, we were thrilled with high-octene levels of performances from the athletes vying to book a spot at the World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia this month.
With some of the main contenders like Christian Coleman, Grant Holloway, and Ryan Crouser making light work of their qualification, it would take of monumental disaster for the United States not to top the medal table at the end of the three-day championships in the Eastern European Nation.
The U.S have won the last seven editions of the World Indoor Championships. They top the overall medals table with 249 medals, almost double that of the next best country, Russia. Considering they’ve been banned from presenting a team, it surely would be smooth sailing for the US.
The likes of Cole Hocker and Chris Nelson who clinched their second U.S title last weekend, Heather MacLean taking her first US title over the women’s 1500 as well as Vashti Cunningham cantering to the 10th title in a row. These guys are almost guaranteed to be on the medal train and thereby continue what has been a successful period of dominance at the indoor championships.
Is there a more dominant athlete in World athletes at the moment than Yulimar Rojas?
After yet another routine win by Yulimar Rojas in the Women’s Triple Jump at the Villa de Madrid, the final World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold meeting of 2022 in which she shone brightest on the night by soaring to a World lead of 15.41, 0.03m shy of her own World Record she set two years ago in the same venue.
For context, the next best athlete on the night was Cuba’s Liadagmis Povea with 14.08m. Rojas is the only athlete to have recorded a mark of 15.4 and above more than once in history and it’s just a matter of time before the Venezuelan push out Russia’s Tatiana Lebedeva from the all-time indoor top five.
But is there still a motivation for Rojas when her competitors can’t even come close to challenging her? Take the likes of Ryan Crouser who’s dominating the men’s shot put and Mondo Duplantis in the men’s Pole Vault.
They most times win their events with ease, but Crouser has the likes of Tom Walsh and Joe Kovacs to push him, while Duplantis knows Sam Kendricks will always be lurking anytime they get pitted against each other in a major competition.
Rojas even got bored at some point and won the women’s Long Jump in Lievin with 6.81 a couple of weeks back. At this point, it should be all about savoring every moment of this insanely gifted athlete.
In the words of World Athletics, “It’s Yulimar Rojas’ world and we are just living in it.”