Olympic Standards 2020

John Lofranco said 4 months ago
As someone once said...discus...

https://athletics.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/2020-Olympic-Nomination-Criteria-EN.pdf
John Lofranco said 4 months ago
I notice two things. 1: there's no difference in terms of selection if you qualify by standard or qualify by ranking. 2: your fastest, most recent marathon is not necessarily the main factor. So it's not really obvious who will be selected. I can see for the women's marathon there are two obvious selections: Rachel Cliff and whoever wins Toronto. After that, it will be a very subjective choice based on the criteria below. Same for men, if Levins can run one again, it would be Cam+champ. Then open season.

If the number of Additional Athletes exceeds the remaining Event Quota, the NTC will
rank the Additional Athletes in the order that, based on the factors listed below, as
well as other relevant factors, they consider the athletes are likely to finish at the
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in the relevant event. Athletes will be nominated in this
ranking order until the Event Quota is full. The factors to be considered by the NTC
when ranking athletes will include, but may not be limited to:
• World and domestic ranking;
• Current form and fitness;
• Proven ability to perform on demand;
• Finishing position at the 2020 Trials; and
• Recent Head-to-Head record against other athletes under consideration.
For the avoidance of doubt, an athlete’s world and domestic ranking in the event
under consideration is important but is not the only factor in making a nomination.
Reply #1
Steve Weiler said 4 months ago
Copying over what I posted on twitter:
Credit to AC, who will nominate as many athletes as possible for Tokyo Olympics. Well done and thank you! Disappointed to see subjective decision making will be involved if >3 eligible athletes.

Looks like this criteria leaves the door open for a Marathoner who does not achieve standard (time or placing) but achieves sufficient ranking to satisfy IAAF critera to be nominated over an athlete who does achieve standard.

AC could have structured the Marathon selection to prioritize athletes with standard (time or placing) over those with ranking. Over-simplified steps:
1) Canadian Champ auto-select (with applicable caveats)
2) athletes with standard/placing
3) if spots remaining, go to rankings

Just to be clear: the IAAF created a new rankings system. In events with >3 qualified athletes, AC will use different and partly subjective* rankings to select the team.
*i.e how does one determine "Current form and fitness" for a Marathoner?

Why might this matter? In spring 2020, if there are 4+ Canadian men and 4+ women with standard (time or placing) or appear eligible to qualify off rankings, aside from CDN Champ the other 3+ WILL NOT KNOW who is in line to be selected.
So, do you go race an additional Marathon?
Reply #2
John Lofranco said 4 months ago
I disagree with you Steve. I think this is fine. Also the simplified steps are basically what is going to happen. So I wouldn’t get worked up about it.

It sport and no one is entitled to know if they are “in line.” If someone did race another marathon in spring to try to move up, if I were the NTC (which I’m not) I wouldn’t select them anyway because that would effectively exclude them from running well again in summer.

It’s not about who deserves to go based on what they’ve done it’s about who will perform best in Tokyo. So like if someone runs one good marathon in the window but has never finished one otherwise, they probably aren’t a better bet than someone who has consistently run maybe a bit slower but is progressing or at least is reliable.

The subjective elements are not unfair. They are just part of sport. That’s my take.
Reply #3
Steve Weiler said 4 months ago
One of the things Hugh Cameron impressed upon me regarding selection criteria is that it should allow athletes to select themselves. Having a clear process in which everyone knows that running faster within the qualifying window and/or placing higher at the trials will lead to team selection allows athletes to select themselves. Having to wait until a committee discusses who they think should qualify is not allowing the athletes to select themselves, even if the exact same athletes end up being selected through both processes.

Let's consider a hypothetical with Cliff and next 4 women (A, B, C, D) as follows:
Cliff is top Canadian in Toronto, already has standard
A runs 2:30:00 in Toronto, 2nd Canadian, not top-5 overall
B runs 2:30:30 in Toronto, 3rd Canadian
C runs 2:31:00 in Toronto, 4th Canadian
D runs 2:31:30 in Toronto, 5th Canadian
A good day in Toronto!

Spring 2020
A runs 2:32:00 in Hamburg, 13th
B runs 2:32:01 to place 5th in Ottawa, gold label event (placing standard)
C runs 2:31:00 in Hamburg, 12th
D runs 2:30:01 in Hamburg, 11th

Possible methods of selecting the team:
1) top ranked single marathon performance in qualifying window = Cliff, A, D
2) top IAAF ranked (2 performances) in qualifying window = B may have a good chance here
3) top placing at Canadian Champs = Cliff, A, B
4) series of criteria, some subjective, as outlined in the above linked AC document = Cliff, ???, ???
5) Recent Head-to-Head record, Current form and fitness = Cliff, D, C

As unlikely as it is, great criteria - let's call it Olympic calibre selection criteria, which is what these athletes deserve - would provide a process by which athletes can select themselves, and it doesn't have to be complicated.


If someone did race another marathon in spring to try to move up, if I were the NTC (which I’m not) I wouldn’t select them anyway because that would effectively exclude them from running well again in summer.



This highlights the kind of issues we can run into: the mere possibility that the criteria could allow the committee to not select an athlete to the Olympics because that athlete tried to qualify for the Olympics by racing within the qualifying window.
Reply #4
John Lofranco said 4 months ago
The subjective aspect has been there for a while so it's not like this is new.

I disagree that the various ways you've outlined above are going to be better at selecting who will do better at Tokyo. Because that's the goal. It's NOT to reward past performance. It's to use past performance, and other factors, to predict future performance. You need some subjective element. I don't see it as unfair at all.

The reason why I think it would be ok for a committee to decide to not select someone for trying to qualify in the window is that the goal is to be the best at the games. Just crossing a threshold of having qualified is not enough information to know if the person is the best choice. But that's why you need a subjective element. An athlete who runs 2:35 in spring 2019, 2:33 in fall 2019 and 2:30 in Rotterdam 2020 is different from an athlete who runs 2:31 in spring 2019 and then 2:30 in Rotterdam 2020, and then again different from an athlete who DNFs in spring 2019, DNFs in fall 2019 and runs 2:29:45 in Ottawa 2020. I would not pick the last runner. It would be tough to choose between the first two. If you don't have an element of subjectivity, you may not have the best team (which is, again, the goal).

I think it's worth pointing out that it's at least nice that we are having this discussion because there are more than 3 women who have a shot at qualifying.
Reply #5
Steve Weiler said 4 months ago
John, thanks for your take on Olympic team selection.


I think it's worth pointing out that it's at least nice that we are having this discussion because there are more than 3 women who have a shot at qualifying.



Yes, credit to the athletes (and coaches) for raising the bar in Canada.

For anyone interested, here is the most recent Olympic criteria from 2016 as a point of comparison:
https://athletics.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/2016-Olympic-Final-Selection-Critieria-JAN7Version_JM.pdf
Reply #6
Steve Boyd said 4 months ago
John, it would be a dangerous form of institutional amnesia if AC were to skew towards subjectivity in its OG selections. It moved to more objective criteria over several cycles because it actually faced-- and lost-- a couple of time-consuming and (probably) expensive lawsuits over its subjective selection decisions. It's fine to say that the objective of selections is to "pick the best team for Tokyo". The trouble is, Athletics is not actually a team sport, and individual qualifiers (and their coaches) WILL fight for selection of they believe they, individually, have a strong case for selection. And there arguments will be recognized legally, because their non-selection represents a material loss. As coaches and administrators, we encourage young people to sacrifice a lot in their pursuit of elite performance. We can't then expect them to expect them to stand down "for the good of the team" when they believe their dreams are being unfairly denied them.

ALL selections, based on any criteria, are made without perfect knowledge of the future. And it is impossible to know if any set of team selections was the optimal one after the fact. Best to make selections are objectively fair as possible (i.e. through athlete "self-selection") because, as selectors, you will never be able to prove that your subjective selections were the best ones possible. In other words, "fairness" in selections is far easier to establish than "effectiveness".
Reply #7
Steve Boyd said 4 months ago
Need an edit function for all my typos and other glitches!
Reply #8
Steve Weiler said 4 months ago

Need an edit function for all my typos and other glitches!



Edit function has been requested! It's already in place for moderators, so presumably not too difficult an update.
Reply #9
John Lofranco said 4 months ago
Yay, 2x more Steves on this board! You sound a lot like this guy Oldster I used to read about...

I think that it's important that I state that I don't speak for the organization even though I work there (and not at all in this area). That being said, working at AC over the last 5 years have given me some insight into the people involved and I can say with full confidence that no one is trying to do anything but provide the best opportunities for athletes. I would hope that anyone who has concerns with the criteria is willing to call Simon up and chat with him about it.

The distinction between previous appeals, I think, and the arguments against the current subjective system, is that in the past it was athletes who were not selected and no one else was taken, whereas these criteria indicate that all spots will be filled.

From the criteria:
"If the number of Additional Athletes is within the remaining Event Quota, all of the Additional Athletes will be nominated."

So there's no danger of a qualified athlete going unselected if there's a spot. Someone can only get bumped by another athlete. I think that resolves some of the previous legal issues, doesn't it? So perhaps not so amnesiac. Legally what's going to happen now is that essentially, an athlete is going to have to come out publically and say "I deserve it more than she does" and our community just does not do that. I think they should if they believe it but no one is willing to risk bad vibes on social or whatever to throw shade at another athlete. We are too nice. Maybe it will happen though. That would be a pretty big shift in culture.

The various scenarios Weiler outlined all had different outcomes. I don't see much distinction between them and what's proposed by AC now. The elements are the same. What's left is that there's room for the NTC or HPD to make a decision when it's not clear who is actually the best candidate to go.

And your argument about athletics not being a team sport isn't really useful because that's not what I mean when I say "select the best team." Select the best team means in this case, select the top athletes in each event. It's not actually about a team score. So while in the past the team thing has been used as a reason not to select people, that's not what I mean by it here. Here are the team objectives, from the criteria:

"This nomination process is designed to prioritize the nomination of Athletes to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Team who have demonstrated an ability to achieve AC’s 2020 Olympic Games performance objectives, which are to improve upon Canadian performances from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games as measured by:
o Medal table ranking;
o number of medals;
o number of top 8 finishes;
o number of athletes finishing in the top half of their field;
o number of athletes beating their pre-event ranking;
o number of athletes setting personal bests; and
number of athletes setting season’s bests."

As you can see, SB and PB and improving on event ranking mean that it's not just about medals. It's about opportunity for each athlete. This is a very good way to look at it, I think.

To me, these criteria are fair. There's ample room for athletes to run themselves onto the team. If we are fortunate enough to have multiple athletes in some events, then the way that those 3 spots will be decided (or two, really, since national champions are automatically in) seems entirely fair, and pretty tight, legally. And, like I said, I trust the people involved. If there are two women at 2:27 and one national champion, it just can't see them going with a 2:31 runner in place of that 2:27. It's in the marginal cases, like 2:30:00 in a windy race vs 2:29:55 in a hot race...there's no objective way to do it. You need that ability to have a conversation.
Reply #10
Steve Weiler said 4 months ago
...Legally what's going to happen now is that essentially, an athlete is going to have to come out publically and say "I deserve it more than she does" and our community just does not do that. I think they should if they believe it but no one is willing to risk bad vibes on social or whatever to throw shade at another athlete. We are too nice. Maybe it will happen though. That would be a pretty big shift in culture.



I've been told that that is precisely what has happened in terms of appealing carding criteria, that the onus was put on one athlete to prove they were more deserving than another. Some of us have had to deal with similar situations when challenging Athletics Canada Championship meet hosting decisions.

The various scenarios Weiler outlined all had different outcomes. I don't see much distinction between them and what's proposed by AC now. The elements are the same. What's left is that there's room for the NTC or HPD to make a decision when it's not clear who is actually the best candidate to go.



The hypothetical examples were meant to get people thinking about different scenarios and hopefully pick up on some of the myriad of potential issues with the listed criteria, which can now be compared with the more objective 2016 Olympic criteria.
Reply #11
Steve Weiler said 4 months ago
I missed this earlier, was in a rush:


It's in the marginal cases, like 2:30:00 in a windy race vs 2:29:55 in a hot race...there's no objective way to do it.



There most certainly are objective ways to do this, and they ideally happen at the start of the selection window before the athletes have actually run these performances.

The classic USATF trials process would objectively do this as follows:
*those times qualify the athletes for US Trials
*the highest placing athletes (top-3) at the Trials, with IAAF standard (pre-2020) are selected

Another option, the NSO establishes criteria in line with what Coolsaet suggested on twitter before the AC release:
1) trials winner auto-selected
2) select next fastest athlete in qualifying window
3) select next fastest athlete in qualifying window

I'm sure members of the NTC can come up with other objective methods of selecting the best team of athletes that would clarify in advance how a 2:30:00 in one race compares with a 2:29:55 in another race.
Reply #12
John Lofranco said 4 months ago
I don't think you can do "next fastest athlete in qualifying window" as there are too many variables. Are you going to start doing temperature equivalences and wind readings? That's not workable. If we wanted to go ultimate simplicity I would just say do top three at trials. Some marathoners would say that limits their opportunities to run other fast races though.

But something else came up on this in discussion today. Every time I read the IAAF rankings rules and related criteria I find something else that confuses me. If the IAAF is going to provide a list from which AC can select, and that list is only going to have 80 marathoners on it, presumably they are only going to give AC the option of choosing a maximum of 3 athletes anyway. The IAAF list is going to consist of all the athletes with standard (including those that got it by placing at a race) presumably eliminating anyone beyond 3 per country, and then filling the rest of the list with the rankings. So maybe, and I could be wrong about this, there's no actual way for AC to make a subjective selection because IAAF is going to provide the names.

I guess the alternative is the IAAF list is longer than 80 and includes EVERYONE who made standard but if that were the case, how would they know which rankings athletes to add? My suspicion from the start on this was that it was done to force Kenya and Ethiopia to select their top athletes and not have a political process. But why would AC have all this extra stuff if it wasn't possible for more than 3 people to make the list? A question for the webinar...
Reply #13
Steve Weiler said 4 months ago
I don't think you can do "next fastest athlete in qualifying window" as there are too many variables.



Previous AC committees elected to do exactly this when setting criteria. Olympic Marathon runner Reid Coolsaet indicated it was his preference. Reasonable people can disagree. Citing too many variables as the reason not to select #2-3 off time is tricky in the context of the current AC criteria and number of variables they will be looking at, some of which are currently unknown to us, as has been pointed out to me (emphasis mine):

"The factors to be considered by the NTC when ranking athletes will include, but may not be limited to..."

Good catch on the potential issue with IAAF wording. That would seem to indicate that the IAAF rankings (2 performances, not just fastest time, for those not familiar) supersede all else. In fact, that could prevent AC from making an objective decision in selecting the Trials winner, as they're aren't necessarily top-3 on IAAF rankings list!
Reply #14
John Lofranco said 4 months ago
I guess I meant if you want to be as objective as possible, next fastest isn't REALLY as objective as all that. At least top three at trials allows all the spots to be selected on the same basis. That being said, I still don't have a problem with the way the selection is laid out.

One thing that I do like about the IAAF rankings is that it allows for multiple performances to be taken into account. You can definitely argue whether the methods are sound (IAAF points are problematic for sure, but less so within the same event), but it seems more fair than taking just one race. We are kind of funny like that in our sport where athletes are definted by their PBs, unlike say baseball where you are looking at averages.
Reply #15
Steve Weiler said 4 months ago

I notice two things. 1: there's no difference in terms of selection if you qualify by standard or qualify by (IAAF) ranking.



One thing that I do like about the IAAF rankings is that it allows for multiple performances to be taken into account. You can definitely argue whether the methods are sound (IAAF points are problematic for sure, but less so within the same event), but it seems more fair than taking just one race. We are kind of funny like that in our sport where athletes are definted by their PBs, unlike say baseball where you are looking at averages.


As the new IAAF rankings require 2 performances, some athletes may have planned out 2-3 attempts to put themselves in the best position possible to qualify for Tokyo. The AC criteria does not clarify if they'll favour 1 'better' race over a higher IAAF ranking (2 races) or vice versa. I am not saying this to argue in favour of 1 (faster) race or a higher IAAF score/ranking from 2 races, but to highlight that athletes and coaches had/have decisions to make, ex. spring 2019 marathon or 10,000m focus, and those decisions were informed by the new IAAF rankings details.
Reply #16

LEAVE A REPLY

In order to post comments you must login or create an account.
By posting on our forum you are agreeing to the following guidelines.