Omanyala, Yego lead protests over new World Athletics qualifying standards

The qualifying standards published on Friday by the World Athletics for the World Athletics Championships due for August 19 to 27 in Budapest, Hungary next year, continue to illicit mixed reactions, according to Kenya’s Daily Nation.

However, most athletes and coaches say it will be a tall order to achieve them.

World Athletics have shortened times for most track events as well as increased the distances in field events save for men’s 400m and women’s 800m where it has eased the the standards compared to the World Athletics Championships held last month in Oregon, United States.

The men’s qualifying time for Oregon was 44.90 seconds, but the time has been reviewed to 45.00 sec, while the women’s time has been put at 1:59.80 from Oregon’s 1:59.50.

As was the case in 2019 and 2022, athletes will be able to qualify for the World Championships by achieving an entry standard or through their World rankings.

Athletics Kenya head coach Julius Kirwa, Africa, Commonwealth Games 100m champion Ferdinand Omanyala and Commonwealth Games javelin bronze medallist Julius Yego said that it will be a tall order to achieve some of the standards set.

“For instance, the 51.00sec set in women’s 400m will be achieved by a handful of athletes. Africa will be most hit,” said Kirwa, adding that women will be the most affected.

Kirwa noted that only 34 women have achieved that time in 400m this year including one from Africa, Kenya’s Mary Moraa, who posted 50.84 sec in June, which is outside the qualifying period.

“I don’t know the logic of the times and distances set but they will have to reconsider them,” explained Kirwa pointing out that it’s only Edward Zakayo who meets the 10,000m time of 27:10.00.

Omanyala said the bar is a bit too far for some athletes to meet.

“This year, we have only 25 going under 10 seconds and 11 are Americans. That means the rest of world has to put in the work,” said Omanyala, who hopes to attain the set standards in the coming races.

“That means that Athletics Kenya has to put in more electronic races for our athletes to have a chance of qualifying,” explained Omanyala.

Yego noted that the move by World Athletics might have been informed by many athletes around the globe having beaten that distance over the last few years in javelin.

“Most of them are coming outside Europe unlike before,” said Yego, adding that it now calls for serious training program and many pre competitions.

“Africa will be the most disadvantaged because few athletes get the chance to compete in many events,” explained Yego.

World Athletics has offered defending world champions wild card entry, as will the winners of the 2022 Diamond League, World Race Walking Tour and World Combined Events Tour.

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