Sport

There is more passion when there is a rivalry: Daley Thompson

Daley Thompson.

Daley Thompson.  

They may be good friends now, but at their peak in the eighties, decathletes Daley Thompson and Jurgen Hingsen appeared to be at each other’s throats at the majors. Their rivalry — like Sebastian Coe’s middle distance battles with Steve Ovett and Carl Lewis’ sprint face-offs with Ben Johnson — lit up athletics, made fans sit up and follow it closely.

With Usain Bolt off the stage, athletics desperately needs such rivalry but that’s missing these days.

“In my opinion, people who are technically excellent and very good and are world record holders, I think they are the best. But I think there is more passion to be found when there is a rivalry. Where there is somebody else equally good, then I think it is best for the sport, any sport. I think people really like to take sides,” said two-time Olympic champion Thompson in a chat with The Hindu on the sidelines of the 20th Laureus World Sports Awards celebration here.

Wearing a mask

So, what’s holding back such memorable rivalry now?

“I think a lot of it stands on luck and timing, I don’t think we can force these things. But I do think that when you have them, you have to make the most of it. Because it is just one of those coincidences, sometimes you might have three or four, then nothing for 20 years,” said the 61-year-old former world record holder and one of athletics’ most colourful characters ever.

“I think nowadays people don’t find it easy to be themselves because everybody wants to have ‘friends’ on social media and everybody, kind of, doesn’t want to upset anybody.”

Shoes controversy not over

If the spate of world records in recent times are any indication, the new AlphaFly and VaporFly shoes appear to have given athletes a huge advantage and some are even calling it ‘technological doping’. And there is a feeling that World Athletics’ new restrictions are not enough.

“There is nothing wrong with development but I think if the most important thing about winning a gold medal is what shoes you wear, then we are doing the wrong things,” explained the Brit, the 1980 and 1984 Olympic gold medallist.

“I think the governing body needs to act and try to be fair to as many people as they can. And I think the situation at the moment is not finished. It kind of goes against the spirit of it. Of all sports, the most basic sport in the world is running. And so, they need to sort it properly.”

Thompson also felt that the doping issue needs to be handled more strictly.

“I do think you can make it much more difficult for cheats. And at the moment, it is not difficult enough.”

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 9:28:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/there-is-more-passion-when-there-is-a-rivalry-daley-thompson/article30854253.ece

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