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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.