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