Unfortunately, Suzy Powell's 227-10 from last year cannot be ratified as an American Record.
Turns out the field at UC San Diego (at least where her plate landed) is 1.03m lower than the ring, which puts it in the "downhill" category.
Looks like the rash of big throws from that site over the last couple of years (including Gabor Máté's "collegiate record" last weekend) may all have to be invalidated if the entire facility isn't up to snuff.
Too bad about the downhill. Suzy's mark might have been a couple feet shorter on a level field, but still an easy AR. I have followed Suzy's career since her HS record setting days, and I was happy to see her finally (appear to) get that AR. However, any site that consistently produces unusually long discus marks probably has a favorable prevailing wind. The wind factor in the discus is huge, but I don't know if it's been quantified. Undoubtedly the discus is the event where the marks are most affected by wind outside of the events which take wind legally into account. And maybe affected even more than some events which DO take wind into account.
Downhill discus throw reminds me of the very first issue of T&FN I ever got: April, 1958. The headline (I still remember) was "Oerter whips disc 202-6". It would have been the first 200' throw, but unfortunately, the field also proved to be downhill. Also, unfortunately, I no longer have my old T&FNs. During my younger wandering days I kept them at my parents' house, and during one of their moves, my mother (in an act for which she may someday be forgiven) threw them out.
Bummer? Sort of, but whenever you get a huge mark that defies belief (or, at least, stretches is) ask yourself, "was mum right when she said, 'if it sounds too good to be true, then....'"
Absolutely no putdown of Ms. Powell, but the mark made no sense at the time and now we know why.
If the landing area truly is more than a metre (more than a yard for you Colonials) downhill, certainly doesn't speak well for the officials who have measured throws there all these years and not said anything.
I should think it a clue that something's amiss when you're standing out in the field and you can't see anythign below the thrower's knees when you look back at the ring!
Will there be more info forthcoming about this from USATF and/or T&FN? Because if San Diego marks will get an asterix in respective (world, NCAA, national) lists, it might be interesting to know how many years this problem originated.
(interested because as a Dutch track statistician, I had a all time top-10 performance in this years edition)
>I don't know how much distance the downhill
>landing area adds to throws at UCSD<
I do. If Suzy's discus landed at a point where the field was 1.03m lower than the ring, and the slope from ring to landing was even, the downhill factor added less than one centimeter to her throw. In other words, it probably would have been 69.43, instead of 69.44.
> I don't get the 'can't see their knees' thing. As > I look up a hill on a straight slope, I very
> easily see feet.
Note that Reality Check implied he's from some part of the British Empire. Must be Australia, I figure. You know how they say water flushing down a toilet there swirls the opposite direction from the way it swirls in the northern hemisphere? Perhaps sight lines on hills work in the opposite direction there also?
Reality Check was kind enough to let us "colonials" know a metre is about a yard. Perhaps he'll share some more of his knowledge on this subject.
1cm sounds ridiculous. Think about how far the discus travels horizontally for every meter it descends vertically. If the landing area is one meter lower than it should have been, the discus will travel, horizontally, a greater distance according to its angle of trajectory at that point. The discus, in the course of its flight, travels much further horizontally than it does vertically. In one meter of drop, we can easily see one meter of horizontal travel -- even much more at certain points in its flight. However, during that last meter of drop (the one that shouldn't have been there if the field was level), the discus is falling somewhat more vertically than earlier in its flight. I don't know how much distance was gained, but 60cm or so, a couple feet, is a reasonable guess, I think.
Well, Pythagoras, maybe we'd better consult Newton for this one. Let's assume she threw the discus at the optimal angle to maximize the distance, this gives a distance of:
v/g*sqrt(v^2*2gh) where v is the velocity of the disc, g is 9.8m/s/s and h is the vertical difference between where the throw was released and where it landed. I don't know how tall Suzy is so lets just say 1.75m so adding in the slope of 1.03m, h=2.78m pluging all of that in and setting it equal to 69.44 lets us solve for v. Once we know v we can plug it back in this time using an h of 1.75 to take away the effect of the slope. When I do this I get 68.44 for a difference of 1 meter, which definitely warrents disallowing the record.
How do you say mea culpa in Greek? In any event, you're absolutely right. I was using the wrong triangle because I was not taking into consideration the path of the discus. In fact, if the angle of the discus at that point was 45 degrees and the ground was level or continuing to slope down, the difference in her distance would be more than two meters. If the trajectory was closer to the perpendicular at that point in its flight, the difference would be less. But the very fact that knowing exactly how much the distance is affected by the downhill element depends upon ascertaining something that is impossible for an official to ascertain on the spot--the exact angle of the discus's path in its last meter of flight--justifies the small tolerance for downhill slope that the IAAF rules permit.
I haven't seen enough women's throwing in high quartering winds (which UCSD apparently has in spades) to know what the flight path is like, but I do remember from many a Modesto men's competition that when a guy really gets one riding the wind it seems (but obviously doens't) to come down almost straight.
The key thing here is not the number of centimetres (or metres) that might have been gained on this particular throw - it is that the competition site was not legitimate. Period.
The nature of the (IAAF) rules when it comes to facilities, implements and other equipment is to DEFINE the properties. These definitions are POSITIVE, i.e. they outline how everything SHALL be to be used for a legitimate competition.
The current IAAF rules concerning slope of the field are far from new, they probably were there in the very first edition of the Handbook (1913). So the people building the facility in La Jolla knew what they had to do. And if that knowledge for some strange reason was not there the people ordering the facility ought to have checked what they got before paying for the job.
(Please note that athletics meets are held in purpose-built arenas - not on any street or open field found. So it is always the responsibility of the meet organiser to provide a legitimate facility.)
When it comes to definitions the philosophy used in the IAAF rules is to set absolute minimums (or maximums as the case might be).
Everybody agrees that there must be some limitation on the allowable slope of a throwing field (otherwise Grand Canyon would be the favourite competition site) and it has been set at not more than 0.10%.
Of course an illegal slope of 0.11% is not much of an advantage but then you could use that kind of argument iteratively - and then you will finally end up in Grand Canyon!
This rule could be compared to the minimum weight rule of the throwing implements. Of course a hammer just 10 grams underweight does not affect the distance thrown more than marginally. But if you allow that - then the rule should be re-phrased with the absolute minimum is 7.250 rather than 7.260. But then you can use the 10 grams argument again and again and again ...
Thus, you must put down your foot somewhere - and this is exactly what the rules have done by defining the absolute minimums of implement weights or downhill slopes.
Something usually causing those making implements or building athletic facilities to add some built-in "safety margins". Because if you aim to be right-on-the-spot there is a considerable risk that it might turn out ever so slightly illegal.
So the rules concerning the allowable downhill slope are not based on any calculation of the effects - they are simply definitions that are absolutely necessary for a sport like ours aiming for absolute results comparable over both space and time.
>The key thing here is not the number of
>centimetres (or metres) that might have been
>gained on this particular throw - it is that the
>competition site was not legitimate. Period.
So the rules concerning the allowable
>downhill slope are not based on any calculation
>of the effects - they are simply definitions that
>are absolutely necessary for a sport like ours
>aiming for absolute results comparable over both
>space and time.
But of course the consideration of the possible "effects" is the very reason the rules are established in the first place. Downhill fields, underweight implements, etc., result in inflated performances -- that's an undesireable "effect". Thus the rules. They're not so arbitrary as your statement "the competition site was not legitimate. Period." seems to suggest. The criteria for legitimacy of the competition site is based, originally and now, on a rational assessment of potential effects. This is why overweight implements, etc., aren't illegal! It's ALL based on a consideration of potential effects!
>course the consideration of the possible
>"effects" is the very reason the rules are
>established in the first place. Downhill fields,
>underweight implements, etc., result in inflated
>performances -- that's an undesireable
>"effect". Thus the rules. They're not so
>arbitrary as your statement "the competition
>site was not legitimate. Period." seems to
>suggest. The criteria for legitimacy of the
>competition site is based, originally and now, on
>a rational assessment of potential effects. This
>is why overweight implements, etc., aren't
>illegal! It's ALL based on a consideration of
Well, not really. The only important thing is standardisation as such - not where the standards are put.
The slope e.g. could vary between "plus infinity" and "minus infinity" and the choice could have been +1.2% just as well as -0.1%. The definition just draws the demarkation between "acceptable" and "not acceptable".
There are no effects to consider as long as all facilities are built according to the same specifications. Because the facilities are built before there is any competition.
Just like the implement weights chosen are not based on how it will affect the results. Because you will only compare marks made with implements of similar weight!
Lighter implements will create "inflated results" just in the same way as "greater downhill slopes". Or just as using a pole would create inflated HJ results.
I.e. to make comparisons and make judgements on "inflation" you must have some kind of "zero conditions" to compare with. But those "zero conditions" are exactly what we have put into the rules - nothing more and nothing less.
>But those "zero
>conditions" are exactly what we have put into
>the rules - nothing more and nothing less.
Actually, it's NOT a case of "nothing more and nothing less", precisely because effects are the issue. Therefore an underweight implement is illegal, but an overweight one is not (more is OK, less is not). A wind more than 2.00mps is illegal (in some events), less is not. If a racecourse measures out a little long, it's OK (for record setting purposes), if it measures out a little short, it's not. The very different criteria applied to MORE as opposed to LESS has everything to do with what is universally considered a desirable or undesirable effect. However, in spite of the fact that your way of presenting your argument doesn't make a lot of sense, your basic point, I think, that uniform conditions for all competitors is a fundamental principle of fairness remains an obvious truth.
>Actually, it's NOT a case of
>"nothing more and nothing less", precisely
>because effects are the issue. Therefore an
>underweight implement is illegal, but an
>overweight one is not (more is OK, less is not).
>A wind more than 2.00mps is illegal (in some
>events), less is not. If a racecourse measures
>out a little long, it's OK (for record setting
>purposes), if it measures out a little short,
>it's not. The very different criteria applied
>to MORE as opposed to LESS has everything to do
>with what is universally considered a desirable
>or undesirable effect.
I am sorry for using an expression that obviously could be minsinterpretred. By "nothing more and nothing less" I was just referring to the fact that it is ONLY what is written in the rules (and not any "political" arguments) that defines the "zero conditions", i.e. the "demarkation" between allowable and unallowable.
As could be understood from my previous reasoning about the "demarkation" I did try (but obviously not with complete success) to highlight the "safe side philosophy" that governs our sport, i.e. that you must err on ONE SIDE ONLY (sometimes it is "not more", sometimes it is "not less") of that "demarkation" - just like you point out in your examples.
Most things in the rules could have been specified differently creating a different kind of track & field with other events. The HJ could have been a very different event if we would have allowed a two-footed take-off ... and there could have been a pole vault for distance rather than height ... and there are a lot of other things we could have thrown but the four implements we now have ... and the heights of and distances between the hurdles could have been chosen differently ... etc.
The choices made in the early days of our sport were not based on careful international deliberations weighing the pros and cons - rather most of it happened by chance, i.e. someone started doing something, somebody else thought it looked fun and tried it and after some snowballing an event (or a sport) was born.
Then to make it possible to spread it further it was necessary to specify the rules to be followed.
Actually the important thing is THAT we do agree - NOT the actual details of the agreement.
Like the eternal question about why running is done counter clockwise. The very simple answer to that question is that there is no "logical" answer to the choice made! But it was absolutely necessary to make a choice, as we couldn't have running competitions if the participants don't agree upon in which direction to run.