© Copyright – 2021 – Athletics Illustrated
Nike, Adidas, Hoka One One, and the rest of the supershoe manufacturers and the athletes who wear them can now breath a sigh of relief. Sebastian Coe, president of World Athletics not so indirectly endorsed the advent of supershoe technology. He wants and fully expects world records to be broken during the Tokyo Olympic Games from the wearing of supershoes.
He said that the shoes are “unlikely to inhibit the records,” which is carefully not saying, “they will help make records happen.”
Coe referenced the example of Jesse Owen’s shoes from the 1930s. They are light and made of cotton. As a shoe innovation at that time, they allegedly assisted performance from the more traditional heavier shoes made at the time. It is common knowledge that when the rubber tracks appeared on the scene in the late 1950s it was a controversial innovation that led to many world records. It was estimated that each 400m lap took approximately one second less time to run than grass, cinder, or asphalt tracks. Others argued more. Tacks that are made of different forms of rubber and have aged provide a different running experience from track to track; there is no standard.
Nike was the first to create the supershoe with the carbon plate and specially made foam rubber and lightness. The shoes are also made to specification to do with a maximum allowable drop heal-to-toe, which World Athletics has put a limit on. Other shoe companies have entered the fray.
Currently, there are two primary sides to the supershoe debate. As mentioned above, Coe feels that innovation has contributed in the past and will always factor in results. There is, however, the argument that in other sports, implements, and wearable technology can be banned for providing an unfair advantage. Baseball has made corked bats illegal, swimming cancelled the full-body suits, upon a series of world records being broken, and cycling limits the technology advantages on an ongoing basis.
The year of the pandemic has produced what seems to be a very high number of personal bests, national and meet records as well as world records. Some counter that there has been a silver lining to the global race schedule being nearly cancelled in that athletes are fresher when they do get to race they can therefore focus on the one-and-done event. Additionally, there may be a sense of a lack of pressure due to having no live audience in venues. This perhaps may lead to a more relaxed approach to the race but this theory remains to be nothing more than speculation, however, the one constant at world records is the supershoe.
“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,” shared Coe.
At the end of the day, whether supershoes are good for the sport or bad for the sport, they received the endorsement that they need to continue from President Sebastian Coe.