Indoor athletics struggling for credibility
Athletics was briefly top of the sporting agenda last week with the announcement of the sport’s new “Diamond League” but the European indoor championships took place in Turin at the weekend with considerably less fanfare.
In days gone by the likes of the Soviet Union and East Germany used to send massively strong teams to indoor championships and treated them as an important development process.
Some athletes too were particularly suited to the the 60 metre sprint or tight bends of the usual 200m tracks, but in general, since the fall of Communism, “treading the boards” has been in steep decline.
In recent seasons that slide towards irrelevance has accelerated, as you could see just by looking at the Turin start lists.
With the exception of a few field events, it was painfully thin fare. The big story was Dwain Chambers, but more for his controversial baggage than the European record time he set in Saturday’s semi-final. Even Blanka Vlasic flopped in the women’s high jump.
But the fundamental problem was the turn-out. If Yelena Isinbayeva, the world and Olympic champion who seems to be able to break the world record at will, wasn’t bothered about appearing, what sort of credibility can indoor athletics have?
PHOTO: Dwain Chambers (C) of Britain, Fabio Cerrutti (L) and Emanuele Di Gregorio of Italy pose with their medals in the men’s 60m event in the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Turin, March 8, 2009. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi