English athletes stunned by Commonwealth Games standards
Thursday, 14 March 2013
March 14 - English athletes have reacted with incredulity to the announcement of selection standards which could make it harder to qualify for the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games than for the Olympics.
England Athletics has said it hopes the Glasgow 2014 team will be "the biggest ever track and field team to have represented England at a Commonwealth Games."
But the A-qualifying standards revealed by the England team selectors include a time of 13min03sec for the 5,000 metres - which has only ever been achieved in Britain by former world record holder David Moorcroft, who narrowly missed becoming the first man to break 13 minutes for the distance in 1982, and Olympic champion Mo Farah.
The qualifying mark for the women's long jump is 6.70 metres, which is 20cm further than the gold medal winner achieved at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, and would have earned fifth place at the last World Championships.
And while male athletes need a time of 20.30secs to book a 200m place in the English team for Glasgow, the Olympic mark has never been below 20.50, including London 2012. England's Leon Baptiste won the last Commonwealth 200m in 20.45.
A measure of how tough the new rules are is that English athletes won 16 individual medals at the last Commonwealth Games in Delhi but had the new qualifying standards been in place 10 of them would not have even got on the plane to India.
By comparison the hosts, scottishathletics, have set out marks at a generally lower level.
For example, the men's 200m mark is 20.80, the men's 5,000m mark is 13:35, and the women's long jump mark is 6.20m.
The national governing body has defended its policy by explaining that the criteria reflect the ambition of creating a team capable of securing the highest possible number of top eight places.
It added that the process would involve four rounds, with round one relating to two or more A standards during the qualification period for individual events, through to round four where athletes who hold one B standard achieved during the qualification period will be considered for remaining places on the team.
The four rounds are in place to allow the selection panel to "progressively fill the full number of available places in a systematic manner."
But the England Athletics announcement has prompted consternation among many competitors.
Baptiste tweeted: "Some really tough commonwealth games standards set by @EnglandAthletic for Glasgow 2014. Sprints in particular."
Richard Strachan, one of Britain's gold medallists in the 4x400m at this month's European Athletics Indoor Championships, tweeted: "The A standard for the commonwealth games is 45.00!!! What kind of craziness is that."
Kelly Sotherton, who won the Commonwealth heptathlon title in 2006 and Olympic bronze in 2004, added: "The men's 5K qualifying standard is ridiculous. I can't understand why some standards are harder than the Olympics."
Hurdler Jack Green said: "Questionable standards set for the Commonwealths. It's not really an inspiring legacy so far."
High jumper Tom Parsons said: "The joke is that England athletics have booked a 40-room Travelodge for Glasgow."