Seb Coe, the President of World Athletics - the governing body for track and field – has once again waded into the debate about modern shoe design by saying that he thinks the shoes on athletes’ feet will play a part in any world records broken at the Olympics this year.
Attending a virtual media conference to launch the Museum Of World Athletics (MOWA), the world’s first fully virtual sports museum, Coe was asked if he expected a ‘a clutch of world records in Tokyo this summer’ due to the advances in shoe development by the major brands, Nike chief among them.
He replied: ‘We want to reflect every generation, and every innovation that has marked the history of our sport, certainly in modern times.
‘Do I think they will be responsible for a clutch of world records in Tokyo? The answer is that I hope we have a clutch of world records in Tokyo and I think they will reflect a whole series of interlocking factors that go to high class performance.
‘But I readily concede that the creativity of the shoe companies is unlikely to inhibit those performances…world records are always being broken.’
Coe, a former Nike athlete and ambassador, has repeatedly been asked for his views on the number of world records being shattered over the past couple of years by athletes wearing shoes containing new innovations such as carbon fibre plates to provide more bounce and energy return.
In the past six months alone world records have been broken in the men’s 10,000m; women’s 5,000m and the men’s half marathon. The records for both the men’s and women’s one-hour distance have also both been smashed, with Mo Farah breaking the men's 13-year-old one-hour record last September, wearing Nike shoes.
When asked in January if he agreed with the views of many in the running community that world records were starting to become devalued, Coe replied: ‘I don’t think we've reached that point where world records are being handed out like confetti. World records do matter. They need to be cherished. They need to be things that the world looks at and thinks: "That’s a new benchmark, and it’s a benchmark of a suffusion of skill, talent, hard work and great coaching”.'
Last month Nike shelved a so-called ‘super shoe’ for sprinters – the Zoom Air Viperfly - after rival brands said they feared the shoe would allow an inferior athlete to wipe out Usain Bolt’s world records.
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