In 1995, I won the gold medal for the long jump at Borough Sports. This is the big, yearly, borough-wide sports competition with children competing from all local schools. 1995 also saw Jonathan Edwards break the 60 foot barrier in the triple jump. His leap has still not been bested. Edwards was my idol.
As a ten year old, and I say this with no exaggeration at all, that single hop, skip, jump has become one of the fundamental formative moments of my whole childhood and life. A golden memory, a moment where I was forever touched by the magic of sport and the heights that humans can climb.
Yet now, the European Athletics Council have suggested wiping all world records from before 2005. This would rub Edwards’ moment of magic out — as it would many other magnificent achievements, such as Mike Powell’s 1991 long jump world record which has also stood the test of time.
As Edwards has said, he always knew his record would go one day — he just didn’t expect it would be to administrators!
There are many things wrong with this policy. They have all been expertly articulated by many great athletes such as Colin Jackson, Steve Backley, Paula Radcliffe, and Jonathan Edwards: all legendary British athletes who will lose their records due to pen pushers. There’s no point rehashing their arguments — but to say that this proposal, whilst of noble intention, is wrong-headed and will harm the sport in the end.
But on a personal note, I feel like I’m being robbed of precious childhood memories. Athletics was a rare joy in my life, and those golden moments have shaped me. None more so than that magical hop, skip, and jump in Stockholm — something I’d write off as legend, if I hadn’t seen it for myself.
© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry