EXCLUSIVE: Nick Symmonds’ track and field manifesto

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Few current athletes are as keen to stick their head above the parapet as world 800m silver medallist Nick Symmonds. The US middle-distance star tells SPIKES his big ideas to improve the sport he loves: from alcohol to advertising; and what athletics can learn from the likes of Nascar and tennis.

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Dancing with the stars (of track and field)

Australia’s former world and Olympic pole vault champ Steve Hooker is the latest athletics star to appear on TV show Dancing with the Stars. Here, SPIKES looks at some of the other track and field stars that swapped their spikes for a leotard… 

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Focus on Finland

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There is a school of thought that reckons little old Finland is the greatest athletics nation on the planet. SPIKES asks a man in the know and finds out why Finland is mad about track and field…

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Ten reasons why the Penn Relays rock

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With 18,000 athletes expected to compete across three days of action, The Penn Relays, at least in terms of participants, can lay claim to be the world’s biggest annual athletics event. SPIKES offers ten reasons why the event, which starts on Thursday 25th April, is such an overwhelming success.

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Seeing double: Churandy Martina and his comedy impersonator 

One of the world’s fastest men is being mimicked by top Dutch comedian Jandino Asporaat on a smash TV show. SPIKES chats to sprinter Churandy Martina and his double.

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Is the Fly Swat the future of Street Athletics?

SPIKES is a sucker for cool pieces of kit, so when we heard the Fly Swat was the largest piece of mobile athletics equipment in the world, we just had to find out what all the fuss was about.

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If SPIKES could change the rules…

Elite athletes past and present have been telling SPIKES how they would change the rules and shake-up athletics (you can read them all here). Now it’s our turn: so brace yourselves for sixty action-packed minutes of multi-eventing as we introduce the ’60-minute pentathlon’…

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Jamie Nieto’s extreme athletics

We’ve had some great ideas for the SPIKES manifesto #rulechange, and today we’ve found a US high jumper with a working knowledge of the silver screen. It’s TV’s Jamie Nieto! And he wants track and field to get extreme.

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If Colin could change the rules…

Two-time world 110m hurdles champion and TV pundit Colin Jackson wants to shake-up the average athletics meet.

I would introduce more novelty events and I would like to bring together different stars from different events to create some sort of hybrid competitions. I believe this would really create a bit of a stir and generate more interest.

Why not have a 150m sprint race? This would bring together the 100m and 200m specialists. How about an 80m hurdles, where the 60m hurdles specialists would clash with the 110m hurdles exponents?

Handicap races would also a great addition, even if you were to introduce them like a prologue before the main meeting. 

I also think some sort of mini-decathlon would be great. When I was competing I could have easily have done a triangle competition of 110m hurdles, 100m and long jump. I would have loved to have done that.

I also support more street competitions. This really helps attract a different kind of athletics fan, one who wouldn’t normally attend an authentic track and field meeting. Both Newcastle and Manchester (UK Great City Games) host annual street athletics competitions and what each has shown is that there’s a real appetite for that kind of athletics.

If Dai could change the rules…

World champion 400m hurdler Dai Greene invents the athlete vestcam and wants TV cameras in the call room.

One simple introduction the sport could do would be to improve TV camera access to athletes both before and during the race – very similar to how the sport of Formula One does it.

Rather than just placing static cameras directed on to the start and finishing line, I think with today’s technology, it would be possible to have a camera fitted into an athletes’ vest. Can you imagine having a camera inside the vest of an athlete who then suddenly burst through to open up a gap on the rest of the field? It would be really cool to see it from an athletes’ perspective.

It would be great to take the cameras into the call room before a race. I remember a couple of years ago the BBC did this ahead of a 400m hurdles race at Birmingham. The reporter was whispering, saying how tense the atmosphere was, and he spoke to Felix Sanchez, the two-time Olympic champion.

Felix said, ‘it is going to be great, get your popcorn ready this is going to be nuts.  I just thought it was fantastic, and it really added something to the race. I thought, this is going to be epic, you could really feel the tension. I’m not saying that athletes should have a camera thrust in their face but I think most athletes would agree to a scheduled interview before a race.

Small innovations like this would help set the scene and go a long way towards building the atmosphere. I’m not saying that this would work at major championships but on the one-day circuit it would be a good addition.