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Olympic Qualification

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Olympic Qualification

Post  Dave-O on Wed Apr 25, 2012 6:30 pm

Prompted by the tough decision of the Kenyan Athletic Association having to select only 3 Olympic participants for London (the World Record Holder has to stay home!), as well as the recent blog post of Marathon Junkie (http://www.marathonjunkie.com/?p=1342), I find myself torn. My question:

For the Olympics, should any runner that hits the "A" standard set by the I.A.F.F. (2:15) be able to participate in the Olympic marathon?

The pros: Unlike a track and field or pool event, the marathon isn't limited in the number of participants. The race can easily handle 100-200 runners; it eliminates the politicking involved, run the time and you're in; and eliminates the need to perform your best on one specific day, where an upset stomach can dash your lifelong dreams.

The cons: Takes away from the team/national pride aspect of the event; favors countries like Kenya and Ethiopia with deep fields (Kenya could send 100+ runners); and waters down the eliteness of the field.

I have always been in the "only 3 per country camp." But the more I think about it, I may be switching sides.

Thoughts?
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Re: Olympic Qualification

Post  Tim C on Wed Apr 25, 2012 8:08 pm

Great question. I haven't had the chance to think about it much, but here's the problem. In virtually every olympic event, you're going to have a 4th place finisher from country 'A' that ran/jumped/swam/etc faster than the 3rd place qualifier from country 'B'. Your example is extreme, in that Kenya may very well have 100 guys faster than some qualifiers from somewhere else, but where do you draw the line?

I do agree though that for the marathon the total number of entrants probably doesn't matter as there are no heats. But still, the olympics is a special event and very team oriented. I think opening it up to some minimum qualifying time kind of dilutes that.
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Re: Olympic Qualification

Post  Admin on Wed Apr 25, 2012 8:18 pm

I'm fine with top 3. The Olympics isn't what it once was anyway. We don't expect WRs. It really is 'who runs best that day' and 3 from each country give a 'more equal' shot, theoretically. At least other countries have a chance to medal. I don't think changing it because one area is dominant makes much sense.

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Re: Olympic Qualification

Post  JohnP on Wed Apr 25, 2012 8:26 pm

I would say no - that it should still be limited to the three per country. The spirit of the Olympics is still country against country. if it was changed for the marathon, why wouldn't it be changed for other events. Since the Olympics are only every four years, we should still use regular marathons as the basis for world records, and where any country can send as many competitors to the start line as they can.
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Re: Olympic Qualification

Post  Gobbles on Wed Apr 25, 2012 8:55 pm

I think the 3 per country isn't right, when it undercuts the field the way it does in the Marathon.

I think an A Standard, maybe at 2:10 for men should get you in. If a country cannot field 3 or more, set a B standard, maybe 2:18, and allow country's to fill their teams. Kenya may get 10 runners, but the marathon might better represent the best of the best.

From a US point of view, I like the team Kenya chose, but I think the race should have more than 1/2 the top marathoners.
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Re: Olympic Qualification

Post  mul21 on Wed Apr 25, 2012 9:10 pm

@Gobbles wrote:I think the 3 per country isn't right, when it undercuts the field the way it does in the Marathon.

I think an A Standard, maybe at 2:10 for men should get you in. If a country cannot field 3 or more, set a B standard, maybe 2:18, and allow country's to fill their teams. Kenya may get 10 runners, but the marathon might better represent the best of the best.

From a US point of view, I like the team Kenya chose, but I think the race should have more than 1/2 the top marathoners.

I kind of like this idea. Maybe make it anybody under a certain standard (like 2:10 or 2:12, whatever) or a country's top 3. This is how they do state track qualifying in Illinois. Minimum of 2 people qualify in each event in sectionals for state plus anybody else who can achieve the set standard. Works well and doesn't screw anybody due to a particularly deep field in any one sectional.
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Re: Olympic Qualification

Post  Admin on Wed Apr 25, 2012 9:27 pm

But it isn't supposed to the best of the best. It is supposed to be the best each country has to offer, in a country vs. country format. That requires some equality in number of participants.

In the TRUE spirit of the Olympics we would only see amateurs competing... for the love of the sport.

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Re: Olympic Qualification

Post  Jerry on Wed Apr 25, 2012 9:31 pm

Don't over think. Rarely a country or a couple of countries have such advantage. If you want "fair" competition where absolutely the best country win, US can send 10 basketball teams, while the China can send 100 ping pong players. Not fun.

It's just a game. We already these two countries have the best distance runners and now just want to see who can beat them.

Not to mention rules are set for long run. Now we open up. What do we do when they are not so dominant 10 years from now? Change the rules as we go?

Can't believe a lawyer post such a question. lol!
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Re: Olympic Qualification

Post  Gobbles on Wed Apr 25, 2012 9:48 pm

@Mr MattM wrote:But it isn't supposed to the best of the best. It is supposed to be the best each country has to offer, in a country vs. country format. That requires some equality in number of participants.

In the TRUE spirit of the Olympics we would only see amateurs competing... for the love of the sport.

I disagree, I think the Current-Modern Olympics (when they started openly letting Pros compete) are about the best of the best. (Look at the team sports, there is regional elimination prior to the event.) The national, medal count thing is a neat side show.

I do agree the TRUE spirit of the Olympics should be amateurs competing...Alas that dream is lost. Rolling Eyes
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Re: Olympic Qualification

Post  Schuey on Thu Apr 26, 2012 12:17 am

As for the marathon I think that it should be left alone. I like seeing the smaller field size and it being left to only the top 3 runners from each country. Now how the countries decide on how they select their top 3 runners I feel is solo up to them. I like the way the US does it by having a qualifying standard and then running a marathon and whoever the top 3 are on that given day then they go to the Olympics. Although I can also see the argument that the 3 fast times are the prior to the Olympics go to the dance.

I don't feel that everyone who runs a certain time gets to go that to me is like everyone gets a trophy even if they losses. I come from the school of their are winners and their are losers. And if you are on the losing side suck it up and try harder the next time and know that sometimes in life are best will never be good enough but that is how life is. The Olympics are special and if we start allowing everyone in because they ran a time the special meaning of being a Olympian means nothing.

It's like the Illinois state playoffs for football to me have lost there special meaning were now there are 8 divisions and teams with 5-5 records can make the state playoffs. Please, should a team be rewarded a bid to the playoffs for being average no way but these days people cry that everyone deserves to have that experience.
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Re: Olympic Qualification

Post  Alex Kubacki on Thu Apr 26, 2012 7:36 am

There are plenty of other events/sports where one or two countries dominate. The Olympics is about the best from each country. If you want all the best no matter what country facing off then make the World Championships be that. Just my opinion.
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Re: Olympic Qualification

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:03 pm

I like the US model where the qualifiers all have to compete in the same race under the same conditions. Did Kenya give away a medal without Mutai being chosen? Maybe, but then again maybe not. Had the entire Kenyan squad competed one on one in Boston conditions, would the team be the same? We will never know now, will we.
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Re: Olympic Qualification

Post  Ben Z on Fri Apr 27, 2012 12:39 am

As of March 16 this year 278 Kenyan men have hit the 'A' standard. 61 women did too. This doesn't count Rotterdam, Paris, Boston or London this year too so the numbers are surely higher.

Unless you want to discourage many people from feeling they have a shot at Olympic glory I think three per country is fine.

I would also like to see a points system like the world marathon majors for each and every country. Have it be a two-year window leading up to the Olympics. You accumulate the most points in 2-3 marathons (and the tie-breaker is fastest avg time on certified courses or something like that) you represent your country.

While the US system is fun to watch from an outside perspective I feel it doesn't allow us to send our best athletes in each event.
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Re: Olympic Qualification

Post  Dave Bussard on Fri Apr 27, 2012 8:08 am

I think countries should stick with sending the three best they have. Although adding a 'AAA' standard of say, 2:05'ish, might be ok. Maybe standardize the selection process between countries. Should they all have a trials or just choose the team with a selection committee?
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Re: Olympic Qualification

Post  mul21 on Fri Apr 27, 2012 8:35 am

I don't think it should ever be left to a committee. Too much potential for politics to be a factor.
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Re: Olympic Qualification

Post  fostever on Fri Apr 27, 2012 10:00 am

@Dave Bussard wrote:I think countries should stick with sending the three best they have. Although adding a 'AAA' standard of say, 2:05'ish, might be ok. Maybe standardize the selection process between countries. Should they all have a trials or just choose the team with a selection committee?
+1 on the AAA standard, makes perfect sense. Make it so the time had to have been run within the year before the Olympics.
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Re: Olympic Qualification

Post  dot520 on Fri Apr 27, 2012 12:28 pm

[quote="GobblesI do agree the TRUE spirit of the Olympics should be amateurs competing...Alas that dream is lost. Rolling Eyes [/quote]

That dream never really existed. The Soviet Union as well as much of the Eastern Block subsided their 'amateur' participants. As I recall, it never was an even playing field years ago. The closest we ever got to our country supporting the Olympic participants was Home Depot giving jobs to athletes to make ends meet prior to allowing Professionals in. This is my recollection.
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Re: Olympic Qualification

Post  Ben Z on Sat Apr 28, 2012 10:01 am

Social media CAN make a difference. Pretty cool for this guy:

Thanks to Facebook Brit Lee Merrien Named to Olympic Marathon Team

http://www.letsrun.com/2012/merrien-0427.php
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