Athletics will get around lockdown restrictions tomorrow by staging an international competition – in back gardens almost 5,000 miles apart.
Dubbed the Ultimate Garden Challenge, pole vault world record holder Mondo Duplantis will take on two-time world champion Sam Kendricks and 2012 Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie live across social media.
Each has facilities at home, with Sweden’s Duplantis and American Kendricks based 250 miles apart in the USA and Frenchman Lavillenie in Clermont-Ferrand.
The event will see each man attempt to clear five metres as many times as possible in 30 minutes – as it is not possible to have officials on hand to regulate a standard competition.
“We definitely are going to enjoy this,” said Duplantis, who cleared a world record 6.18m in Glasgow in February. “Also, winning is crucial because I don’t like losing to them very much.”
Athletics has lost its summer to the pandemic with at least the first half of the Diamond League season postponed along with all championships.
British pole vault queen Holly Bradshaw expressed delight that her discipline had come up with an innovative solution.
“It’s a really cool idea,” she said. “I only wish I could fit a pole vault pit in my 4m v 5m back garden!
“I’ll definitely be watching and I’ll be interested to see if it works and gets a good reception as something new and exciting could really put the spotlight on athletics.”
Meanwhile Katarina Johnson-Thompson has indicated she will not defend her world indoor pentathlon title in China next March as the rescheduled event clashes with the Europeans in Poland.
“When all of this got announced, the hope was the Olympics would be switched to the spring,” she said. “Then you could do the world indoors and just stay out there.
“Then they moved it to exactly a year after. With the Europeans now two weeks before the world indoors, I’m not sure it would make sense for me to do that as I cannot do the pentathlon in both.”