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New IOC Rule could help Shericka Jackson

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is to consider an amendment to its by-laws which would have seen the inclusion of Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson in the finals of the women’s 200 metres, upon appeal. Jackson was eliminated in the first round of the 200 metres at the Tokyo Olympics because of her failure to secure one of the three automatic spots.  She was pipped on the line by Italy’s Dalia Kaddari by a mere .251 of a second, which cost Jackson her place in the semi-finals and the probability of securing a second medal.

Kaddari ran flat out during the heats and qualified in a time of 23.26 seconds, the same time as Jackson who literally jogged throughout the race. In semi-final 3 Kaddari finished eighth in a time of 23.41 seconds. Her best time ever is 22.64 seconds, while Jackson’s personal best is 21.82 seconds.

According to the IOC Governing Body, “the human spirit admires the competition of the games and, for that moment in time, the emergence of the best athlete.” The amended rules would therefore make it possible for Jamaica to appeal the decision to include Kaddari over Jackson.  The proposed clause would allow the IOC to consider which athlete should go forward in circumstances where the margin of victory in the heats of a 100 or 200 metre race is less than .500 of a second, for the final automatic qualification spot. It noted that where the person so qualifying stands as much of a chance of reaching the finals of the event or winning a medal with equal certainty as ‘snow falling on the equator,’ and the person next in line (in this case Jackson) has an equal chance to medal, then she shall be given the automatic qualifying spot and allowed to advance to the semi-finals.

The IOC noted that “the competitive nature of the Olympic sport should not be scarified where the historic performance of one athlete is undoubtedly superior to another, but that that athlete, through his/her poor judgment of the race, was likely to be eliminated by another athlete by a fraction of a second, and that athlete is unlikely to advance to the finals, and only by virtue of a miracle could win a medal.”  

“We believe the outcome of the Women’s 200m semi-finals 3 at the most recent Olympics is a clear vindication of our position,” the IOC reported.

It said that the definition of “automatic” would have to be qualified so that it is made definitively clear that that automatic placement is guaranteed “save and except where the athlete so qualifying, in the opinion of the IOC, executed the race as if it were the final and could do no better than winning by a margin of .500 of a second, and had to dramatically lean forward in doing so.”

Efforts were made to have the amendments ratified retrospectively before the finals of the women’s 200 metres in Tokyo, but this was opposed by the Italian Olympic Federation.

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