Last Updated on November 15, 2011 by Jimson Lee
I have to agree with the IAAF decision to cut back the 100 meter rounds for the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
The Daily Mail published the article Spectators will see less of Usain Bolt with controversial bye introduced for 100m in London. The 4x100m and 4x400m Relays are already tough to qualify with only a 2 round, 3 race semi final format, but that’s another story.
In my opinion, 3 rounds instead of 4 is really targeting the “tourist athletes”.
Honestly, who’s going to show up for the Day 1 morning events to watch these races? Other than to watch Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Tyson Gay and others?
In the Men’s 100 meters at the 2009 Berlin World Championships, there were 20 performances slower than 11 seconds with nine personal bests ranging from 11.00 to 12.29 seconds. (No offence, but a 12.29 doesn’t get you to the next round in the WOMEN’S section)
The new format will have the “Classification Round” or “Preliminary Round” at 10am, followed by Round One (or quarter finals) at 12:30pm. In the past, the First Round and Quarter Final races were separated by 7 hours, enough to go back to the Athletes Village for a nap. The Semi-Final and Final are 60 minutes apart, which I like as the sprinters are already warmed up and your CNS is firing on all cylinders.
My guess is the Top 72 ranked athletes will get a “bye” from the “Preliminary Round” or “Classification Round”, and the other 20-30 athletes will fight (and qualify) for the final 8 spots in about 5 or 6 heats, making an 80 person "Quarter-Final” or “First Round” of 10 heats. (This is similar to the NCAA basketball tournament where two unknown conference winners play for the final 64th spot and get ranked 16 in the brackets. No 16th ranked team has beaten a number 1 seeded team).
But in the past, these “extra” athletes required a 4th round of races. Why?
81 is the Magic Number
Here are the rules.
For 8 lane events (on a 9 lane track) in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 100mH, 110mH, and 400mH, the magic number is 25 and 81 declared entries.
Up to 80 athletes requires 3 rounds, with a 24 person Semi-Final, and 8 person Final.
Over 81 athletes requires 4 rounds, with a 40 person Quarter-Final, a 16 person Semi-Final, and 8 person Final.
- 24 entries = 2 rounds with 3 heats of 8 runners, with the “2P2T” rule (top 2 Places and fastest 2 Times on non-automatic qualifiers) This is the same method for the 16 team 4×100m relay qualification.
- 25 or more = 3 rounds of 4 heats or 3P4T. Advancing to the Semi-Finals are 16 athletes.
- 80 entries = 3 rounds of 10 heats or 2P4T. Advancing to the “3 heat” Semi-Final consists of 24 athletes.
- 81 or more = 4 rounds of 11 heats (or more) or 3P7T. Advancing to the “5 heat” Quarter-Finals consists of 40 athletes.
So in big meets, including the WMA where I compete, 81 is the magic number for 4 rounds.
Excellent points and insight into why certain events are formatted in a particular way.
My initial reaction is that the Olympic sponsors and advertisers are concerned that a few of the top drawing athletes might not make it through the earlier rounds. Though they may lose a bit of revenue due to lower viewership numbers during the prelims, they’d rather increase the odds of a favorable field for the semi’s and finals.
We, the fans lose out and I believe the event or product is weaker but when millions of coins are at stake, we are always going to be taking second fiddle. However, do you think this may help in terms of recovery and being fresh for athletes such as Bolt who will be entered into more than one event?
Jimson Lee says
@Fred, in all fairness to the IAAF, they did a few additional changes:
200m & 400m – 3 rounds on consecutive days, no rest days between SF and Final (LIKE)
4x100m as last event (DISLIKE) so Usain Bolt will close the show. I like the 4x400m, especially with the womens as USA, Jamaica and Russia are the 3 favorites. But a close 4th is UK, as they are stacking their team nicely. If you saw the 2010 Commonwealth 4x400m W, you will know how exciting that race was for India.
@ Fred – I disagree that we fans lose out with the new format, because it will weed out the “lower-level” athletes that are (as Jimson said) merely tourists, not to mention result in the elite athletes being A) Fresher and B) less likely to be injured come the final.
I.e. this format will produce more competitive finals with athletes that are better positioned to perform at their best.
If memory serves Michael Johnson ran 4 rounds of the 400 and the 200 at the Atlanta Olympics, it’s conceivable that under the new format he would’ve been fresher for the 200 final and might’ve run even faster.
After all running a 19.32 as your last of 8 races in about 9 days, when four of those was the 400 and you pulled a quad in the last 20 meters is fairly amazing…imagine how fast he would’ve run if he was fresher and didn’t hurt himself.
As a fan I would rather see an athlete in a better position to run faster and more importantly RUN HEALTHY than watch Usain Bolt run against someone who may be in the Olympics but is really barely a national class athlete.
I mean 29 people ran slower than 11 seconds in the 2009 World Championships? That means 29 people who couldn’t win many High School 100m races in small towns and states (like the kind I grew up in) let alone in powerhouse large areas.
What’s the point of watching Usain run against an athlete who runs an 11.1? It would only be interesting if Usain ran backwards.
Now if only masters worlds will follow suit and save my old legs some wear and tear!
Jimson Lee says
@Markham , yes, the M45, M50 and M55 are very competitve for the 100-200-400 and usually see 4 rounds, especially if the meet is in Europe. EU Host countries usually count for almost 25% of the entries. We’ll see Sacto in 2011 (many poeple won’t make the trip for various reasons like VISA-Immigration-security issues) and Brazil in 2013 (just too expensive).
Markham & Jimson,
Sound considerations from both of you. As someone who looks forward to watching as much of the sprinting events in the Olympics, I was just being a bit greedy in wanting to retain at least the same amount of heats as I’m worried that all events are being tapered. But if you believe we will get chances at better races, I’ll go along with that.
What events do you compete in the Masters competitions and for how long? How have you faired in the past and what do you expect in the near future? What is your training program and schedule? Thanks and best wishes.
Jimson Lee says
@Fred, I am all for 4 rounds if there are over 81 competitve athletes with the IAAF A or B standard. Then again, you have countries like Canada whose Olympic standard is *tougher* than the IAAF. I’ve seen my good friend Shane Niemi (400m) who should have run in 3 Olympics if he was in another country with “tourist rules”, and he had the B standard and A standard, too.
John H says
Quote: “Honestly, who’s going to show up for the Day 1 morning events to watch these races? Other than to watch Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Tyson Gay and others?”
Answer: Me! … it’s not all about the ‘stars’ it’s about watching the best from each country for love of the sport. You write like you’re a TV Athletics watcher not a real fan.
Jimson Lee says
@John, believe me, I am Track and Field’s biggest fan. I show up for every race for my athletes, rain or shine. Even the Sunday 9am 200 meter heats. (I’ll make a trip to Starbucks first for my 20oz venti)
When I wrote that sentence, I was referring to the general public in mind. I came back from the Golden Gala, and it was nice to see 47,000 people show up. Great match ups, Usain Bolt, and great billboard marketing all month long really helped. But without Bolt, like the last 2 years, the Golden Gala rarely broke 10,000.
Well, I really have to chuckle about your last sentence, John H.
Because that is the furthest thing from reality that could ever exist.