New qualification system causes jitters across athletics

Cyprian Kimutai 13:12 - 22.08.2022

The Athletics fraternity has expressed concern over the qualifying standards introduced for the 2023 World Athletics Championships set to be held in Budapest, Hungary, from August 19-27.

The standards introduced in August 19, are in line with World Athletics attempt to have fewer athletes qualify via standard and more via World Ranking.

World Athletics, the governing body in charge for the sport of athletics has previously hoped hoped for 50% of athletes to qualify for global events via standard and 50% via World Ranking.

A majority of Kenyans will be affected by the new standards as distances that have the biggest drops are; 3,000m steeplechase, 5,000m and 10,000m.

"For instance, the 51.00sec set in women's 400m will be achieved by a handful of athletes. Africa will be most hit," said Athletics Kenya head coach Julius Kirwa.

During the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene, USA, the qualifying standards for the 5,000m and 10,000m were 13:13.50 and 27:28.00 for men and 15:10.00 and 31:25.00 for women respectively.

In 2023 however, men will have to run the 5,000m in 13:07.00 and 10,000m in 27:10.00 to qualify while women will be required to run 14:57.00 and 30:40.00 respectively.

For context, in the men’s 5,000m final in Eugene, none of the athletes who won medals crossed the finish line before 13:07.00. 

Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen won gold in 13:09.24 followed by Kenya’s Jacob Krop in 
13:09.98 before Uganda’s Oscar Chelimo rounded off the top three in 13:10.20.

World Athletics also announced that athletes will be able to use a mile time to qualify in the 1500 meters (3:51.00 and 4:22.00 for men and women, respectively) and that athletes can also use road times in the mile, 5km, and 1km to qualify for the Championship.

“The qualification period for the marathon and 35km race walk opened on 1 December 2021 and ends on 30 May 2023. For the 10,000m, 20km race walk and combined events, the window runs from 31 January 2022 until 30 July 2023. For all other disciplines, the qualification period is 31 July 2022 to 30 July 2023,” stated World Athletics.

During the recently held Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, none of the 10,000m women medallists crossed the line before 30:40.00.

The winner, Scot Eilish McColgan won her gold medal in 30:48.60, followed by Kenyan Irine Cheptai in 30:49.52, with the bronze medal going to another Kenyan, Sheila Kiprotich in 31:09.46.

"I don't know the logic of the times and distances set but they will have to reconsider them. It will simply discourage many athletes and that isn't growing the sport. It will continue to push many to road racing," Kirwa told Nation.

World Athletics further revealed that defending world champions will be offered a wild card entry, as will the winners of the 2022 Diamond League, World Race Walking Tour and World Combined Events Tour.