If SPIKES ran the Olympics…

…it would be a disaster. But anyway, last week we posed this question on Twitter: what would you choose if athletics could have an extra Olympic discipline? Here are five of the best suggestions

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Er… when we said: “set athletics on fire,” we didn’t mean…

Distance medley relay 

If swimming can have six relays as part of their Olympic programme, then why can’t we? The 4x100m and 4x400m are unfairly skewed towards the sprinters, so how about the distance medley relay? 

The four-strong teams run a total distance of 4000m with legs of 1200m, 400m, 800m and 1600m. It’s popular in the US, and a Kenyan quartet could prove pretty difficult to beat. In Philadelphia seven years ago a team which included 2007 world 800m champ Alfred Kirwa Yego, set a world’s best time of 9:15.56. 

Cross-country

The discipline was contested at four Olympics between 1904 and 1924, before dropping off the schedule in disastrous circumstances. We’ve moved on since then, so why not re-introduce it?

It would allow the athletics world to re-integrate a massive community of runners back onto the elite stage, and give host cities the chance to showcase a great park or outdoor space. A water hazard and obstacle or two would make for great drama and fantastic imagery. You could even make it part of the Summer AND Winter Games. You like that, Jacques?

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Cross-country’s finest take in the Hungarian plains.

Swedish relay 

This is a sprint mash-up with a twist. The Swedish relay sees teams cover 1000 metres with legs of 100m, 200m, 300m and 400m. Jamaica, with a ‘Puma Reggae Team’ featuring Usain Bolt, are holders of the current men’s world best. They ran 1:46.59 in Stockholm in 2006. 

This event already features in some national championships and is an established part of the IAAF World Youth Championships. To spice things up a bit, we reckon it should be a mixed relay with two men and two women per team, with running orders kept secret until the start of the race.

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Bolt: “I once ran in the fastest Swedish relay team ever, you know…”

Mini-multi-event comps

110m hurdles great Colin Jackson touched on this in December. It could entail a three-discipline competition to find out the world’s best all-round sprinter over 100m, 200m and 400m; the best jumper (high, triple and long); all-round thrower, and so on.

Just imagine former world shot put champion Christian Cantwell taking on Olympic discus gold medallist Robert Harting in a multi-throw showdown-hoedown… 

The standing long, high and triple jumps

This trio require explosive power and can look extraordinary. Present between 1900 and 1912 (except triple jump, which was held in 1900 and 1904 only). The master of these events was the legendary Ray Ewry, who won eight gold medals between 1900 and 1908.

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Baby, Ew-R the best: Ray Ewry standing jumps in the record books.

Today, it could work as a three-event mini multi-event. And why not take it out to the streets of the host city? Another bonus would be the end of those irritating no-jumps, too.