IAAF announced a new policy for its major outdoor track and field championships yesterday. All athletes with the ‘A’ and ‘B’ qualifying standards will be exempt from a new preliminary round of the 100 meter dash that will be instituted starting with the 2011 World Championships in Daegu and extending to the 2012 London Olympics. Find all the details from IAAF here.
This is partly to address the issue of every nation being allowed to enter one athlete into Worlds and Olympics regardless of qualifying standard, bloating the field sizes of races like the 100 meters. The slowest male runner at the Beijing Games, for instance, was American Samoa’s Shanahan Sanetoa who ran 12.60 seconds.
The goal of the round is to reduce the workload for top athletes (Usain Bolt had to run eight total rounds for the 100m and 200m in both Beijing and Berlin) while still giving slower runners the opportunity to participate in the proceedings. Additionally, the policy seems to be a compromise to the no false start rule since the Bolts, Gays and Powells of the world now have one less opportunity to potentially be disqualified from the event.
Some people in the track world seem to have a problem with some individuals receiving preferential treatment, but to me it isn’t a big deal. Especially in the 100 meters, a sprinter without the ‘A’ or ‘B’ standard has little to no chance of making it out of the first round. It’s great that they have the opportunity to participate in the World Championships or Olympics, but their involvement shouldn’t affect the chances of the medal contenders.
The scenario seems similar to how the NCAA basketball tournament has play-in games that allow some teams the chance to experience March Madness without expanding the field too much that make the number one seeds play additional games.
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