The unwavering advance of technology continues unabated in athletics as two long-standing world records were obliterated within an hour at the same meeting by runners wearing Nike’s controversial track spikes and guided by pacemaking lights.
At a stadium in Valencia that was almost empty because of coronavirus restrictions, Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei smashed the men’s 10,000m world record on Wednesday, clocking 26min 11.00 sec to slice an astonishing six seconds off the mark set in 2005 by Kenenisa Bekele.
Cheptegei’s performance came after Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey chalked off an equally remarkable four seconds from the previous record for the women’s 5,000m set by Tirunesh Dibaba in 2008. Gidey was timed in 14:06.62.
Two world records in highly competitive events set in one heady hour did not just come about by accident.
They were premeditated and both performances factored in the latest technological advances, something that threatens to produce a rash of new marks, just as swimming had its record book rewritten with the introduction of the full-body suits that were later banned.
Both Cheptegei and Gidey were wearing Nike ZoomX Dragonfly spikes, a super-light shoe with a rigid plate and a unique foam that lends a propulsive sensation to every stride.
Critics claim the shoes are the equivalent of mechanical doping, while supporters hail them as a revolutionary technical advance.
The spikes, nevertheless, are approved by track and field’s governing body.
Not only were the two athletes wearing the controversial Nike spikes, but they had a team of metronomic pacemakers around them who utilised Wavelight technology — a trackside visual time guidance system which lights up to indicate the world record pace.
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