England team selectors plan to send biggest ever athletics team to Glasgow despite announcing extremely ambitious qualifying ‘A’ standards
England Athletics has said it envisages the Glasgow 2014 team “will be the biggest ever track and field team to have represented England at a Commonwealth Games”, despite the tough qualifying ‘A’ standards that caused consternation when revealed on Friday.
The national governing body has defended what have been deemed by many to be overly ambitious marks, explaining how the criteria reflects the ambition of creating a team capable of securing the highest possible number of top eight places.
Athletes and fans reacted with surprise over the qualifying ‘A’ standards, which include times such as 13:03 for the men’s 5000m and 20.30 for the men’s 200m.
Only two British athletes – double Olympic champion Mo Farah and former world record-holder David Moorcroft – have ever run this 5000m qualifying ‘A’ standard, while the 200m at the last Commonwealth Games in Delhi was won by Leon Baptiste in 20.45.
Commenting on the standards, double Commonwealth champion Baptiste tweeted: “Some really tough commonwealth games standards set by @EnglandAthletic for Glasgow 2014. Sprints in particular.”
His view was reflected elsewhere with Richard Strachan, who was part of the gold medal-winning 4x400m relay team at the recent European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg, tweeting: “The A standard for the commonwealth games is 45.00!!! What kind of craziness is that,” referring to the ‘A’ mark for the 400m.
Sunday marks 500 days to go until the Games and the selection policy overview states that the criteria has been produced with creating a team capable of achieving the highest possible number of top eight places in mind.
England Athletics will consider athletes for nomination on the basis of performances achieved in the qualification period between January 1, 2013, and June 1, 2014, with priority given to “current ” standards achieved between January 1, 2014, and June 1, 2014.
On defending the standards, the national governing body was keen to point out that it is a four-round process, 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, they advise, have been put in place to allow the selection panel to “progressively fill the full number of available places in a systematic manner.”
In a statement, the national governing body told Athletics Weekly: “England Athletics would like to make clear they are fully committed to taking the maximum possible number of athletes to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
“As stated in the selection policy England Athletics will nominate to Commonwealth Games England the maximum possible number of athletes, prioritising those athletes most likely to contribute to our aim of the maximum number of top eight places.
“The A and B standards will be used during the selection process to help us identify for nomination early in that process those athletes most likely to help the team achieve the objective of achieving the highest possible number of top eight places.
“These standards reflect extensive analysis of Commonwealth Games rankings and championship performances.”
You can find the full selection policy here: www.englandathletics.org/cwg-selection