How Do You Make It To The Olympics?

(COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF OREGON)

TRACK’S CRUCIAL DATES for ’21 are June 18–27 in Eugene, Oregon & July 30–August 08 in Tokyo, Japan.

As always, for American athletes the road to the Olympic Games on the latter dates begins with the Olympic Trials on the former.

Both meets will have two major ways to get in, the first of them being making tough qualifying standards (see following pieces). Neither meet will achieve the desired quotas solely from that protocol, so some events will have field-filling procedures. For the OT, USATF’s pure performance lists will be used; for the OG, WA’s world rankings (not to be confused with the T&FN World Rankings) will come into play for the first time.

American athletes are also considered to be qualified for the Nationals: if in the previous 4 years they have earned an Olympic, World Outdoor or World Indoor medal; if they are the reigning national champion, indoors or out; or if they finished in the top 3 at the previous year’s Nationals, indoors or out.

Unlike the World Championships, the Olympics has no provision for “Wild Card” entries for defending champs or anybody else, so no matter what, no nation’s representation in any event will be larger than 3.

Most of the OT events will find the U.S. selecting the full complement of 3 per event, although it will not necessarily be the first 3 finishers, since it’s not uncommon for a high finisher to be lacking a qualifying-standard mark. In those cases, lower-finishing athletes who do have standard will be selected. Note that the Rio team included one 11th-placer from the OT.

Per a USOPC requirement, Americans may not chase qualifiers after the conclusion of their events at the Trials.

The Olympic Trials for the marathons and men’s 50K walk were both held back in February of ’20.


The Olympic Relay Fields

The fields of 16 national relay quartets in the 4x1s, 4x4s and mixed-sex 4×4 can qualify for Tokyo in one of three ways: by having placed in the top 8 at the ’19 WC in Doha; by having placed in the top 8 at the ’21 World Relays; off the WA performance lists for the qualifying period as needed to reach the quota.

WA says the field-filler performance lists for the relays will be “based on the aggregate of the two fastest times achieved by national teams in the qualification period” and those times must be achieved in races including at least two national teams.

As always, composition/order of the U.S.’s relay foursomes will probably remain largely a mystery until the last minute.


Miscellany…

Olympic Games age restrictions: Junior (U20) athletes are allowed in all events save the marathon and 50W; Youth (U18) athletes are barred from the 10K, road races, decathlon and throws; those who are not yet 16 this year are excluded from all events…

Both the OT and OG accept legal-track indoor marks (no banking beyond 200m) as qualifying standards, but wind-aided marks are not considered and there are no altitude-adjustments…

OT qualifying marks will not necessarily be used as seeding marks in the meet proper, a more current window usually being applied…

The OT figures to stage a single round in the 10K and walks, 2 rounds in the steeple & 5000 and 3 rounds in all others. All field events will be 2 rounds…

WA will publish qualification lists and world rankings on July 01 and submit entries to Tokyo on July 02–05.


Olympic Trials Q-Standards

USATF has yet to confirm the window for making an Olympic Trials qualifying mark. The original plan for last year was May 01, 2019 through June 07, 2020, but with so few people having competitive opportunities in ’20, we would suspect that the new window will start earlier, relatively speaking, than the original, likely somewhere in ’19. We’ll publish the firm dates as soon as they are announced.

# = approximate field size desired (USATF stresses “not the minimum”); fields will be filled as needed from performance lists. The standards:

Event Men’s Standard # Women’s Standard Event
100 10.05 (32) 11.15 100
200 20.24 (30) 22.80 200
400 45.20 (28) 51.35 400
800 1:46.00 (32) 2:02.50 800
1500 3:37.50 (30) 4:06.00 1500
Steeple 8:32.00 (24) 9:50.00 Steeple
5000 13:25.00 (24) 15:20.00 5000
10,000 28:00.00 (24) 32:25.00 10,000
110 Hurdles 13.48 (32) 12.84 100 Hurdles
400 Hurdles 49.50 (28) 56.25 400 Hurdles
20K Walk 1:36:00 (15) 1:48:00 20K Walk
High Jump  2.26 | 7-5 (24)  1.87 | 6-1½ High Jump
Pole Vault  5.75 | 18-10¼ (24)  4.60 | 15-1 Pole Vault
Long Jump  8.00 | 26-3 (24)  6.70 | 21-11¾ Long Jump
Triple Jump 16.66 | 54-8 (24) 13.50 | 44-3½ Triple Jump
Shot 20.65 | 67-9 (24) 17.70 | 58-1 Shot
Discus 62.00 | 203-5 (24) 58.00 | 190-3 Discus
Hammer 72.00 | 236-3 (24) 68.00 | 223-1 Hammer
Javelin 75.00 | 246-1 (24) 54.00 | 177-2 Javelin
Decathlon 7900 (18) 6000 Heptathlon

Olympic Games Q-Standards

WA’s window for achieving Tokyo qualifying marks ended up being anything but simple as it went through an open/close/open cycle in ’19–20:

Marathon & 50K Walk: January 01 2019 through April 05 2020 & December 01 2020 through May 31 2021.

10,000, 20K Walk & Multis: January 01 2019 through April 05 2020 & December 01 2020 through June 29 2021.

All other events: May 01 2019 through April 05 2020 & December 01 2020 through June 29 2021.

The Tokyo ’21 standards in individual events (# = desired field size, to be achieved by adding to those at Q-standard from WA’s world rankings as of June 29):

Event Men’s Standard # Women’s Standard Event
100 10.05 (56) 11.15 100
200 20.24 (56) 22.80 200
400 44.90 (48) 51.35 400
800 1:45.20 (48) 1:59.50 800
1500 3:35.00 (45) 4:04.20 1500
Steeple 8:22.00 (45) 9:30.00 Steeple
5000 13:13.50 (42) 15:10.00 5000
10,000 27:28.00 (27) 31:25.00 10,000
110 Hurdles 13.32 (40) 12.84 100 Hurdles
400 Hurdles 48.90 (40) 55.40 400 Hurdles
Marathon 2:11:30 (80) 2:29:30 Marathon
20K Walk 1:21:00 (60) 1:31:00 20K Walk
50K Walk 3:50:00 (60) not held 50K Walk
High Jump  2.33 | 7-7¾ (32)  1.96 | 6-5 High Jump
Pole Vault  5.80 | 19-¼ (32)  4.70 | 15-5 Pole Vault
Long Jump  8.22 | 26-11¾ (32)  6.82 | 22-4½ Long Jump
Triple Jump 17.14 | 56-2¾ (32) 14.32 | 46-11¾ Triple Jump
Shot 21.10 | 69-2¾ (32) 18.50 | 60-8½ Shot
Discus 66.00 | 216-6 (32) 63.50 | 208-4 Discus
Hammer 77.50 | 254-3 (32) 72.50 | 237-10 Hammer
Javelin 85.00 | 278-10 (32) 64.00 | 210-0 Javelin
Decathlon 8350 (24) 6420 Heptathlon

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