Field-event qualifying at 2015 worlds? Lyon risks roars of anger
Athletes are privately expressing anger that organizers of the 2015 WMA worlds in Lyon, France, have scheduled qualifying in field events. In other words, you throw or jump one day in a trials and come back the next for the finals. (This applies to most age groups.) See the men’s schedule here. See the women’s schedule here. I wrote to WMA veep Serge Beckers and the LOC, and their responses are below â€” as well as my thoughts.
Serge Beckers writes:
The prelims are planned qualifying for the field events. Athletes have to be sure that they can be competing on both days. The setup of the general time schedule with a lot of prelims (qualifying for field events) is done in order to accommodate as many entries as possible. Since the championship is organized in Europe we expect a lot of entries. Therefore we have to plan this way. We can not do finals of field events with more than about 20 athletes.Â
The LOC (aka Team Lyon 2015) writes:
The schedule you can find on our website is a draft schedule. An update is planned at the beginning of september, but there won’t be many changes. As Serge Beckers told you, we expect a lot of athletes. That means that we’ll have to keep qualifyings for some courses and age groups. But if some qualifyings came to be canceled, the dates for the finals will still be held as written on the schedule. I invite you to keep an eye on our website and subscribe to our newsletter to be aware of the upcoming changes.
A friend who noted the qualifying round wrote:
Of course, we know there is no qualifying. (Spouse) and I are considering cruises that leave the 15th and one on the 16th because of the free airfare, but we can’t do it until we know what day we will actually jump. … They will be the first to ever do this. Not many masters vaulters can walk well the day after they jump. Qualify and final on consecutive days? If there is a final only, it would be helpful to know which day they would choose.
The definition of “qualifying” needs sorting out. In IAAF events like worlds and Olympics, yes, you have a qualifying day â€” where you gotta clear a given height or throw past a certain line to advance to the finals.
But Lyon likely thinks of qualifying differently â€” as a way of winnowing large fields into manageable ones. I suspect that’s what happened in certain events at 2009 Lahti worlds, where results indicate qualifying rounds in the long jump, shot and other field events. Tell me if I’m reading this wrong.
But even if “qualifying” just means reducing field sizes (and cutting the likes of me), it poses problems for elites. Many entrants treat worlds like a buffet â€” entering as many events as possible. But that won’t happen if they have to juggle qualifying rounds with the slew of heats in track events.
So this would end up hurting the Lyon LOC by shrinking entry-fee revenue.
I salute Serge and the LOC for looking out for athletes â€” trying to avoid onerously long events. Nobody likes warming up at noon and waiting to jump or throw at 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. (This has been a recurring complaint at large world and Euro meets.)
But in USATF meets, we have a way around this: Allow warmups midway through competition. This means high jumpers won’t worry about cooling off as the bar rises from 3 feet to 5. Can’t WMA do this?
In the case of throws, we already have a rule allowing the entire field three tries and then taking the top 8-10 into the final three throws. So yeah â€” it may take 15-20 minutes between throws in the first rounds. But then the final three tries go pretty fast. (Lahti used this procedure.)
Tourism is a big deal for WMA meet hosts, so requiring field-event qualifying is cutting their own throats. In requiring two days for many field events, Lyon also threatens the health of athletes. Speaking for myself, I have to take a nap after a few high jumps. If I managed to make the second-day final, I’d worry about injury and a coma.
But I won’t presume to speak for y’all, so here’s a poll.