Which World Championship Event has the Toughest Entry Standard?

The finalized entry standards for the London 2017 IAAF World Championships in Athletics have just been published and I decided to evaluate their difficulty.

There are many ways that I could go about doing this, but I simply went with a zero compromise approach, which means comparing the standards with the world records. In other words, how close to the world record do you have to perform in order to qualify for the World Championship in a given event? 

The IAAF uses statistics and comes up with entry standards for every championship based on evaluation of results from recent years, so I’m not questioning their methods as every result is very carefully determined. In a sense, all the standards should technically be of the same difficulty when looked at in the context of the last few seasons, but when looked at from a historical point of view and with world records in mind, they’re obviously not.

But hey, it’s my blog and I make the rules. Therefore the event with the highest calculated percentage* has the most difficult entry standard, where a value of 100% represents the world record.

[*I already explained the method of calculating these percentages in one of my previous blogs (read it here if you’re interested), but all you have to know here is that the higher the percentage, the closer the standard is to the world record; hence it’s in theory a more difficult standard to achieve.]





The 1500m and 800m take the crown as the top two most difficult entry standards in the men’s events where the qualifying athletes have to run just under 5% slower than the world record.

You can make your own conclusions based on these results, but here are a couple of my notes:

When it comes to running events, I think that the marathon has a slightly more forgiving entry standard because of the fact that you can’t run it as often as, say, the sprints, which severely limits your chances of recording a high-quality result.

Some of the field events that are below 90% have old world records that almost no one has gotten close to in a long time (doping, anyone?). Example: if the javelin entry standard would have been at 95% of the world record distance, athletes would have to throw 93.55m … Only one man – the world record holder Jan Železný – has ever thrown it farther than that.


Women’s entry standards follow a pretty similar pattern. The 100m Hurdles takes the crown, but the middle distance events are still up there, with the marathon and throws being mostly at the bottom.

Sorted by Difficulty


Žiga P. Škraba

2 thoughts on “Which World Championship Event has the Toughest Entry Standard?

  1. Using 10+ years old records, most achieved in the “golden time of doping” is not the best approach in my opinion. You should be looking at a recent results to get a proper analysis, this is not at all relevant. Let me give you an example:
    I’ll show the results from the last year’s Olympic Games, as they are the most recent. You scored men’s hammer throw with 87.62%. The qualifying mark was 76m, which was actually lowered from 77m, as there were only around 10 people that actually achieved this mark in the previous year. The medalists in rio? 1st place: 78.68, 2nd place 77.79, 3rd place: 77.73, 4th place: 76.05. So if you threw entry standard on the competition you were among top 5 or even got a medal, as the standard was 76m and 77-78m is enough for a medal on most of the last World Championships or Olympic games. Only 4! people threw entry standard in the finals of the OG. Repeating a standard would therefore lead to at least 5th place in the final.
    If you look at the men’s 100m standard on the other hand, merely repeating an entry stnadard would lead you to one of the last places in semifinals and would not even qualify you for a final, yet you ranked it with 94.66%.

    So yes, you analysis is not really relevant. If you repeat a standard at the competition and finish in 4th place at Olympic games…well that was a very high standard wasn’t it? Not to mention the facts that standards in jumps/throws were set so high only 20-30 people were able to achieve it, while standards in running were set so 90-100 people can achieve it. So they are intentionally easier. I won’t even discuss marathon, which you scored quite high, yet the men’s standard was so low even women are able to achieve it. So percentages and world records are not really relevant when you are trying to demonstrate the severity of the standards. Good job with the analysis anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, thanks for a constructive comment. I can’t really object to anything you said because I do agree with your points.
      But, as stated, I went for the most simple approach of comparing the standards up against the world records which obviously isn’t the most productive method, but I do believe that the results provide food for all sorts of thoughts :).


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