Nominees announced for Covid Inspiration Award

Press Release:

Tenacity and determination are some of the traits that propel athletes to greatness. In a year beset by unprecedented challenges, roadblocks and disruptions brought on by the global Covid-19 pandemic, they were also key attributes that drove many event organisers across athletics to meet those challenges and provide competitive opportunities for athletes and entertaining events for fans around the world.

To celebrate those efforts, World Athletics is delighted to announce the nominees for the Covid Inspiration Award, a special honour this year to recognise an individual or group of individuals whose efforts have resulted in the delivery of a particularly inspiring athletics event or experience in 2020.

“Necessity has been the mother of invention for all of us in this pandemic year and we have seen some really creative initiatives and programmes from our athletes and our event organisers, who have had to reinvent their operations and surmount huge obstacles in order to provide competition for our athletes and fans, which is the lifeblood of our sport,” World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said. “We wanted to recognise their enormous resilience and creativity this year by presenting this special award to one of those events that have been exceptionally innovative this year.”

The three nominees, as selected by World Athletics Council Members, are (listed alphabetically):

Herculis EBS Monaco Wanda Diamond League meeting

After a slew of cancellations and postponements that delayed the start of the international season, meeting organisers overcame unprecedented public health and safety concerns, global travel restrictions and painful budget cuts to stage their annual event and finally kick off the interrupted Diamond League season on 14 August, an evening capped by Joshua Cheptegei’s stunning world 5000m record before a crowd of 5000 fans.

In all, 132 athletes – 13 of those reigning world champions – from 36 countries in six federation areas competed across 14 disciplines. Underscoring the quality of the event, 14 world-leading performances were set at the meeting. Of those, 11 remained the year’s best performances at the end of the season.

Ultimate Garden Clash, an original idea by Renaud Lavillenie

A series of three innovative competitions, devised by Renaud Lavillenie and his fellow pole vaulters who presented their idea to World Athletics. The events were held over a five-week period in which athletes faced off via a live video link while competing in their respective training bases.

Organised jointly by the athletes and World Athletics, and broadcast live on its social media platforms, the Ultimate Garden Clash featured separate men’s and women’s pole vault competitions and a triathlon event with three of the world’s best decathletes. The men’s pole vault edition on 3 May between world champion Sam Kendricks, world record-holder Mondo Duplantis and former world record-holder Lavillenie was the world’s first high-level ‘live’ athletics competition since global lockdowns went into effect in March, and attracted more than one million viewers from more than 90 countries in the first 24 hours.

Gdynia 2020 for the World Athletics Half Marathon Championships

The local organising committee in the northern Polish city faced a series of pandemic related challenges throughout the year but never gave up on their dream of hosting a World Championship event, which they did on 17 October in what became the first and only World Athletics Championship held in 2020.

After a postponement from the original March date, the organisers continually adapted to the changing situation, working with World Athletics to design a thorough first-of-its-kind health and safety protocol for the event that ultimately attracted 225 athletes from 54 teams, the second-highest at these championships since the 1998 edition. Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya broke the world record for a women-only race while four championship records, two area records and 21 national records were also set.

The voting process

The winner will be decided by a public vote via the World Athletics Facebook, Twitter and Instagram social media platforms. The combined number of votes from all three platforms will determine the winner. Voting opens on 9 November and closes at midnight on 15 November.

The winner will be announced at the World Athletics Awards 2020 to be held virtually on Saturday 5 December.

Which city is the sports capital of the world?

Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, is frequently chosen and acknowledged as the sporting capital of the world. Melbourne is second biggest city in Australia but were chosen the sporting capital of the decade in 2016. The people of Melbourne are actually sports crazy and it doesn’t matter just what the sport is, the crowds in the city turn out for it.

So why is Melbourne the sports capital and how did it get to be the sports capital? First of all, the city has a rich sporting history and culture. The city was established in 1835 and sport was a feature of city lifestyle right from then, with the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) being formed in 1838. The now prominent Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) opened in 1853. It’s still there and is now the premier sports arena in the country. Different kinds of football grew to become also popular in Melbourne’s formative years, in due course bringing about its own sport – Australian Rules Football, or ‘footy’ as it’s called by the local people. The very first Melbourne Cup horse race took place in 1861 and is still going. The initial Australian tennis championships took place in 1905 and is still held there. Melbourne put on the 1956 Olympics.

Community sports activity is really a considerable part of the the cities life style and involvement rates in the city are probably the highest globally. This is easily witnessed each and every weekend you will see just how prominent local community sporting activities is with people actively taking part and enjoying a variety of sporting activities for example cricket, tennis, footy, rugby, netball, basketball, baseball, golf as well as soccer. They play an important part of so many people’s community lives and health and fitness. When people in Melbourne aren’t playing sport, they are fans of viewing sport. The Australian Football League grand final draws 100 000 fans to the MCG. Rugby Union is not a well-known or a common sport in the city, but Melbourne stills hold the world record for the highest number of fans to go to see a game live!

Along with the 1956 Olympic Games, Melbourne continues to host world class sports entertainment. Every year, there is the F1 Australian Grand Prix, the Australian Open Tennis Grand Slam, the Spring Horse racing Carnival, the MotoGP, the Boxing Day cricket international game along with the Rip Curl Pro surfing competition. There are the major AFL, National Rugby League, or Australian A-League (soccer) matches on most weekends. There have recently been other major one-off events like the Commonwealth Games, the Cricket World Cup, World swimming championships and also Asian Cup soccer.

All of this is backed up by lots of first class sports stadiums including the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre, Melbourne Park, Rod Laver Arena, AAMI Park, Hisense Arena, Etihad Stadium, Flemington Racecourse, State Netball and Hockey Centre, Margaret Court Arena and the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit and that is an infrastructure which is not close to being surpassed by any other location in the world. It is easy to see how and the reason why Melbourne is considered the sporting capital of the world and exactly why sports activity is such a part of the way of life around Australia.

Girls benefit from doing sports

Media release:

Girls – but not boys – who participate actively in school sports activities in middle childhood show improved behaviour and attentiveness in early adolescence, suggests a new Canadian study published in Preventative Medicine.

“Girls who do regular extracurricular sports between ages 6 and 10 show fewer symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at age 12, compared to girls who seldom do,” said Linda Pagani, a professor at Université de Montréal’s School of Psychoeducation.

“Surprisingly, however, boys do not appear to gain any behavioural benefit from sustained involvement in sports during middle childhood,” said Pagani, who led the study co-authored by her students Marie-Josée Harbec and Geneviève Fortin and McGill University associate medical professor Tracie Barnett.

As the team prepared their research, “it was unclear to what extent organized physical activity is beneficial for children with ADHD symptoms,” recalled Pagani.

“Past studies have varied widely in quality, thus blurring the true association between sport and behavioural development.” She added: “On top of that, “past research has not acknowledged that boys and girls are different in how they present ADHD symptoms.”

A chance to get organized

ADHD harms children’s ability to process information and learn at school, Pagani explained. Sport helps young people develop life skills and supportive relationships with their peers and adults. It offers a chance to get organized under some form of adult influence or supervision.

“Thus, from a public-health perspective, extracurricular sport has the potential to be a positive, non-stigmatizing and engaging approach to promote psychological well-being and could thus be viewed as behaviour therapy for youth with ADHD,” Pagani said.

“Sports are especially beneficial if they begin in early childhood. And so, since using concentration and interpersonal skills are essential elements of sport, in our study we undertook to examine whether it would result in reductions in ADHD symptoms over the long term.”

Pagani and her team came to their conclusions after examining data from a Quebec cohort of children born in 1997 and 1998, part of the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development coordinated by the Institut de la statistique du Québec.

Parents of the 991 girls and 1,006 boys in the study reported on whether their sons and daughters were in an extracurricular physical activity that required a coach or instructor between ages 6 and 10. At age 12 years, teachers rated the children’s behaviour compared to their classmates. Pagani’s team then analyzed the data to identify any significant link between sustained participation and later ADHD symptoms, discarding many possible confounding factors.

“Our goal was to eliminate any pre-existing conditions of the children or families that could throw a different light on our results,” said Pagani.

‘Boys more impulsive’

Why do girls with ADHD benefit from sports, but not boys?

“In childhood, boys with ADHD are more impulsive and more motor-skilled than girls — as a result, boys are more likely to receive medication for their ADHD, so faster diagnosis and treatment for boys in middle childhood could diminish the detectable benefits of sport,” Pagani said. “They might be there; they’re just harder to tease out.”

“In girls, on the other hand, ADHD is more likely to go undetected — and girls’ difficulties may be even more tolerated at home and in school. Parents of boys, by contrast, might be more inclined to enroll them in sports and other physical activities to help them.”

She added: “We know that sporting activities have other numerous benefits for mental health of all children. However, for reducing ADHD symptoms, middle childhood sports in elementary school seem more noteworthy for girls.”

That’s why structured extracurricular activities that demand physical skill and effort under the supervision of a coach or instructor could be valuable to any official policy aimed at promoting behavioral development, the UdeM researchers maintain.

Concluded Pagani: “Sports activities in early childhood can help girls develop essential social skills that will be useful later and ultimately play a key role in their personal, financial and economic success.”

About this study

“Childhood exercise as medicine: extracurricular sport diminishes subsequent ADHD symptoms,” by Linda Pagani et al, with the help of Frédéric Nault-Brière, was published September 29, 2020 in Preventive Medicine. The work was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanties Research Council of Canada and other funders. They include: the Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon, Institut de la Statistique du Québec, Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur du Québec, Ministère de la Famille du Québec, Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux du Québec, Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail, and the Centre hospitalier universitaire Sainte-Justine.

ASBA Announces Publication of Sports Fields: A Construction and Maintenance Manual

Media Release:

Forest Hill, MD – The American Sports Builders Association (ASBA), the national organization for builders, designers and suppliers of materials for sports fields, running tracks, tennis courts and indoor and outdoor courts and recreational facilities, has announced the publication of the 2020 edition of Sports Fields: A Construction and Maintenance Manual.
The book is designed for anyone involved in building, maintaining, repairing or renovating all types of fields. It includes user-friendly technical information on all aspects of fields for various sports, including design, budgeting and planning, site requirements, surface selection, construction, maintenance, repair, amenities and accessories and more. In addition, it includes diagrams, photos, governing bodies and sources for further information.
“In the new edition, we’ve made the book much more user-friendly,” says John Nelson, CFB, ASBA’s Fields Book Committee chairman, who worked to update and rewrite the manual. “We’ve created a more user-friendly publication that follows the process from conception to construction to completion – and also includes illustrations as well as extensive information on testing applicable to field surfaces.”
Additionally, the new publication includes enhancements with real-life information users need, including an examination of the perception of synthetic fields and a review of alternative infills on the market. It is also the textbook for those taking the ASBA’s Certified Field Builder exam. Copies of the new edition of the book are now available at a cost of $44.95 each and are available in hard copy as well as in digital form. Books can be ordered in either hard copy or digital format by going to the web site, and selecting the tab at the top, reading “Publications.”
The ASBA is a non-profit association helping designers, builders, owners, operators and users understand quality athletic facility construction. The Association sponsors informative meetings, publishes newsletters, books and technical construction guidelines and keeps its members updated on developments in the industry.