Javelin just the tip of Mondo's field event ambitions

Thomas Rohler
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Thomas Rohler in action for Team Europe at the IAAF Continental Cup Ostrava 2018

Almost 300 world records or world best marks have been set on tracks produced by European Athletics Green Inspiration Partner Mondo – and about half of them by European athletes – since their very first one in 1972.

At the current rate it’s possible that the 300th could be achieved almost simultaneously with the celebrations of the 50th anniversary in 2022 of the very first ‘Mondo world record’, when an Italian quartet broke the 4x200m world record in Barletta.

The question provoked by this brief examination of the Italian country’s illustrious history is which world records – indoors or outdoors - are then likely to be broken in the next three years en route to edging closer to that mark?

In the wake of Dalilah Muhammed’s 400m hurdles feat on the Mondtrack WS surface at the World Athletics Championships in Doha barely two months ago, one brave British specialist bookmaker began offering odds on which marks could fall in 2020.

Curiously, the five most likely events to see a new mark are all in the field with the three of the men’s jumps topping the list with the men’s high jump listed at 2/1, the men’s triple jump at 7/2 and the men’s long jump at 11/2.

And even though the general public perhaps associate Mondo most closely with what runners – whether they are sprinters or distances runners –perform on, many of the world records on a Mondo track have come in the field events and it is an area that Mondo pays great attention to.

The first field event world record on a Mondo track came at the 1978 European Athletics Indoor Championships in Milan when the Ukrainian high jumper, then competing for the USSR, Volodymyr Yashchenko levered himself over 2.33m and then 2.35m, the latter height two centimetres better than the outdoor world record he co-owned at the time with USA’s Dwight Stones.

Technically, the Milan marks were world indoor bests as it was to be another decade before world indoor records became official, but certainly didn’t diminish the impact or enormity of his performance.

Turn the clock forward 36 years and the last field event world record on a Mondo track was also an indoor feat that surpassed anything that has been seen outdoors, when Renaud Lavillenie’s vault of 6.16m at the 2014 Donetsk indoor meeting which, coincidentally, was held just over 200km from Yashchenko’s birthplace and home in Zaporizhzhia.

“We are always looking at how our tracks respond to a particular sporting gesture and in athletics that means the technique in a specific event, especially a field event,” commented Mondo’s Technical Director of Research and Development Andrea Marenghi, speaking to European Athletics.

“When you want to design a new product, you try to select the technical properties to provide a specific advantage to a specific gesture.

“And for this reason we are interested in studying events that normally see less dedicated development so jumping, perhaps triple jumping specifically as well as the javelin – and we have great cooperation with the Jena Javelin Centre and Germany’s 2016 Olympic champion Thomas Rohler – get attention."

“This is becoming more and more important than where we want to provide dedicated material that can provide specific surfaces for these events.

“In the case of the javelin, we are interested in a very important property of the track, namely the spike resistance. As you can imagine, some areas of a track are more prone to what I call ‘consumption’ because of the action of the spikes and because of the kind of spikes the athletes use.

“One idea we had, now some years ago, was getting in touch with some high-level athletes that can use our products on a daily basis, we can experiment with different surfaces and see their point of view in the sense of the testing the resistance of the material to the result they get and then can examine the material to see how is its mechanic response. This is where our collaboration with Jena and Thomas Rohler has been so beneficial and it is something we are looking at expanding,” added Marenghi.

No one has got within four metres of Jan Zelezney’s javelin world record of 98.48m set in 1996, among the achievements which earned the great Czech thrower that year’s European Athlete of the Year honour, but with Mondo research already being implemented in many of their bid stadia installations the gap could soon be closing.

Into the bargain, their research into field event surfaces could help add to their own extensive tally of world and European records.