A Canadian track and field athlete's route to Tokyo Olympics, explained
New, dual qualification system proving to be formidable challenge
The 2020 Olympic standards, which drew criticism from many upon release by the International Association of Athletics Federations in March, have proven to be a challenge early in the outdoor season.
To qualify for next year's Summer Games in Tokyo, athletes can either achieve the toughened standard or gain entry based on their world ranking within a qualifying period that has been extended in most events by two months.
The IAAF wants to achieve half of target numbers for Tokyo from the new standards and 50 per cent from the global ranking system in which athletes accumulate points based on result and placing at a competition.
"But you can only get points from specific types of competition," says CBC Sports' Anson Henry. "The big international competitions like the world championships, Pan American Games, all the Diamond Leagues, those are the obvious ones. But you can also get points from the national championships.
WATCH | CBC Sports' Anson Henry discusses Olympic selection criteria:
In events up to the 1,500, a runner's ranking would be determined by their top-five results from July 1, 2019, to the end of next June. For the 5,000, it would be three results and two results in the 10,000.
Shocked & disheartened by the new <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Olympic?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Olympic</a> qualification system. Prioritizes & rewards those with the political advantages of top agents/sponsors. Shuts on the door on athlete development. Many standards are almost Cnd records. Lightyears faster than 2016<a href="https://t.co/YxklLLowCy">https://t.co/YxklLLowCy</a>—@K8VBeast
Men's marathon standard slashed by 7 minutes
Vancouver's Natasha Wodak has held the Canadian 10,000 record of 31:41.59 since May 2, 2015. Problem is, the new Olympic standard for women is 31:25.
Holy smokes- 2020 Olympic standards are CRAZY FAST. Women’s 10,000m 31:25 is 50 seconds faster than it was in 2016. 🙀🙀🙀 <a href="https://t.co/YaeKDT8G0J">https://t.co/YaeKDT8G0J</a>—@tasha_wodak
The 37-year-old, who currently ranks 17th in the world in the event, ran 31:43.26 earlier this month at the Payton Jordan Invitational in California and fortunately has nearly 14 months to lower her time, but getting an opportunity to improve upon her 22nd-place finish at the 2016 Olympics in Rio won't be easy.
Lanni Marchant held the women's national mark for more than five years until Cliff stopped the clock in 2:26:56 in March at the Nagoya Women's Marathon in Japan.
Canadians setting PBs
Other Canadians have set personal-best times of late, only to remain on the outside of Olympic qualifying:
- Calgary's Trevor Hofbauer, the 2017 Canadian marathon champion, ran 2:16:48 at the Hamburg Marathon in Germany two weeks ago.
- In early April, Canada's Melanie Myrand (2:33:17), Emily Setlack (2:35:44) and John Mason (2:15:15) set PBs at the Rotterdam Marathon in the Netherlands. Myrand has taken off since last fall, Setlack's performance was an 11-minute PB and Mason's time was the fastest by a Canadian this year.
Marathon runners can also qualify for Tokyo with a top-10 finish at this year's track and field world championships Sept. 28-Oct. 6 in Doha, Qatar, at a World Marathon Major (Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, New York City or Tokyo), or a top-five placing at a IAAF Gold Label Marathon such as Dubai, Rotterdam or Paris, to name a few.