As the cross country season about to kick off, UK Athletics (“UKA”) announced this week preliminary selection process for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Guiyang, China for next March. The statement says “British Athletics will be sending men’s and women’s junior teams to the event, as well as senior athletes who have the ability to be competitive (top 30) against the world’s best”. This translates to we will take junior teams and perhaps 1 or 2 senior athletes. Currently you could see Mo Farah, Andy Vernon and Jo Pavey fitting into these selection standard. Athletics Weekly (“AW”) have posted this blog describing how in the past top athletes may not have qualified with today’s policy.
This is of course a continuation of the policy of if you are not likely to be a finalist now or next time around you are not going to the World Championships. But this is a team event just as much as it’s an individual event so shouldn’t the criteria be that the team is capable of being a top 8 team?
So is UKA looking to kill cross country? There will be no trials for the seniors so why compete at Nationals or Inter-Counties (the trials for the juniors)? You may have as much chance of getting selected from running on the roads as you are running cross country races. The final selection process will be unveiled on December 1st. It’s difficult to understand why it’s going to take them 2 more months to publish more information, surely it doesn’t take another 2 months to concoct the excuses for this approach.
Maybe it’s just that these Championships are taking place in China and UKA doesn’t want to incur the expense and is struggling for finances. The Anniversary Games this summer without the benefit of the Olympic Stadium must have reduced their income considerably. The pricing on the tickets was a disaster and they had to be slashed in the run-up to the events. At least next year the Diamond League meeting is scheduled to return to the Stratford.
This hash selection criteria may be a pre-cursor to those for the outdoor World Championships a few months later in Beijing. Nothing yet has been published as it seems no-one really knows what the IAAF criteria are going to be. This follows the change in qualifying after Moscow in which there will no longer be ‘A’ and ‘B’ standards just something in between designed to qualify 75% of the 2000 athletes they want to attend. The other 25% will be added according to as yet undisclosed method. Everything about Beijing 2015 seems to be behind. The local website is still not live. There is no information about tickets. No selection criteria. Nothing.
(This link will take you to some of the local organisers’ website but click on a link will take you to a better looking address but with a login as it’s not live yet.)