Are the Olympic Games supposed to be the world’s best athletes or just a shabby 2 oz pouring of random “athlete” samples from each country? The 2012 top 20 marathon times in the world are held by Kenyans and Ethiopians according to the ARRS. Of the next 20, only one, Henryk Szost is non-African born. What we will see at the Olympic Games is just three athletes from the Kenyan armada of male marathon runners.

According to the 2012 IAAF Olympic Qualifying standards there’s over 100 Kenyan’s who have met the “A” standard to run in the Olympics. I say let everyone run who has earned a qualifying time. How many of these athletes will be running in another four years? One of the original, albeit somewhat more informal, Olympic mottos created by De Coubertin is “The most important thing is not to win but to take part!”

de Coubertin - coined the Olympic Motto

Seems with an “A” standard of 2:15 for the marathon the U.S. would be sending a few more athletes as well. I imagine Jason Hartmann might like to “take part” in the Olympics. Ask Dathan “Ritz” if he is still interested in attending in the marathon.

Today Kenyan Athletics released the names of their three male and female athletes to be awarded trips to the games. THREE?!?!? This is supposed to be the worlds best. These guys must be psychic to predict who will be the BEST in August. I want them to give me today’s lottery numbers. I recognize that on any given day anyone can have a bad race. (Did I tell you how I beat Boston’s defending champion by running a 2:58 marathon?) I’m not convinced that the best athletes will be competing at the Olympic Games. I’m not even convinced that the U.S. is sending our best flock of marathon runners. Our oldest flock, which some call “the most experienced” probably due to some PC BS pressure from their editor, but this is probably not our best flock for the London Games. Keep in mind that Meb’s PR at the Trials of 2 hours 9 minutes and 8 seconds ranks him 83 to date in 2012. Ryan Hall’s 2:09:30 sneaks him into the top 100. I’m sure they can and will run faster. They will certainly place much higher as 75 of their competitors who have ran faster won’t be at the Olympics.

Six of the world's Best Marathoners. Which 3 go to the Olympics?

Keep in mind that the Olympic Games are only once every FOUR freakin’ years. If your 31 or 32 you better hope your last name is Radcliffe and that you have genetics on your side if you want your shot at running the Games when you’re 35 or 36. And don’t mention World Championships or Pan Am games as an equal to the Olympics. For the most part those are like side-show acts to the big top tent of the Olympic Games. How many of our top athletes “sit out” from these so called ‘world’ championships? Despite the option to qualify for one of these lesser events the Olympics should allow the world’s fastest marathon runner and the current world record holder to run in the Games. The 2002 I.O.C. limited the games to 10,500 athletes, 305 events, 28 sports. Sorry baseball and softball. You don’t qualify for the Olympics much like half the continent of African runners. They can find room for rugby and golf in 2016 but can’t find room for a guy who has run 2 hours 3 minutes and 2 seconds for 26.2 miles. Not just a little room for one more “decent” runner. I think G.Mutai has EARNED a spot.

World's Fastest Marathon Runner

With a limit of only three athletes in the marathon I guess we can understand why athletes bail on their nationality and head over to Qatar or Bahrain to compete. Call them unpatriotic if you want, but why have qualifying times if hitting them really doesn’t mean much if your 22nd or 106th from your country. Hey Kenya…I hear their are slots available in Afghanistan for their Olympic Marathon Team.

I would have offered up the Canadian slots but amazingly enough Canada will field a full team of THREE male marathon runners for the first time since the ’96 Atlanta Games. One reporter said, “The winning time at the 2008 Olympics was 2:06:32, but the four previous Olympic winners all posted times in the 2:10 to 2:13 range, which means the Canadians could well be in the hunt at London if things go right.” By “things go right” he probably hopes that Kenya is reduced to ONLY sending one marathon runner to represent ALL of Africa. Perhaps he forgets the heat or pollution factors that slowed winning times. I digress.
To pull off a podium spot you would have to also ignore the number of stellar runners from Ethiopia. Many of which will not make the games either. Did you see the results of the Dubai and Rotterdam Marathons? If it wasn’t for Moses Mosop Cheruiyot, Ethiopia would have swept the medals. Still, Moses wasn’t able to break the 2 hours and 5 minute barrier. Slacker. Despite Canadian Dylan Wykes stumble at the start of his 2 hour 10 minute and 47 second Rotterdam Marathon (the 2nd fastest ever by a Canadian) he was just a mere mile and a quarter back from taking a podium. I am glad Canada has three athletes that meet their strict marathon qualifying standards of 2 hours 12 minutes. I guess their N.O.C. figures if you can’t run under 2:12 you don’t have a shot at winning so why go.

Tongue in cheek aside, I think each country should send as many as possible if they hit the I.O.C.’s standard. This is about the worlds best athletes and not the athletes that some committee feels will be the best on one day sometime later in the summer. Send ‘em if you got ‘em. Might put everyone’s running in perspective when the African country claims the top 20 finishing spots in the Olympics versus being limited to just the top 6. It seems just wrong to brag about a 17th place finish in the Olympics when there were probably 40 or 50 Africans who were not allowed to compete.




8 Responses to Olympic Games or Wine Tasting?

  1. Andrea Hill says:

    Yup.. There are no Olympic marathon trials in Canada. If you meet the standard, you’re in. But not that many meet the standard.

    We have nowhere near the budget for Olympic athletes as the U.S.. It’s disappointing, but we use our federal funds to cover the costs of every athlete who breaks something and needs an MRI rather than shuttling a contingency of the best to Trials and events. As disappointing as that may be for those athletes, it’s probably best for the rest of us.

    Of course, if someone is good enough, there’s always the option to move, right?

  2. JP says:

    Hell Ya! Chuck tells it like it is! I would love to see a huge field of everyone who meets the standard set by the IOC. This standard should be stricter, and it should eliminate “elite passengers” from weaker running countries. I’m Canadian and I’m excited we have 3 athletes going, but not at the expense of 100+ faster Kenyans! Let’s push the envelope and see how fast these guys/gals can actually get! The Olympics is about the showcasing the “best”, it not supposed to be some “back-slapping-let’s-all-get-along-sing-along”!

  3. If your country sets a standard for the games, call it an A standard. and you hit you should be allowed to go. As for “real team sports” that’s a tougher call. I think each country should be allowed to send as many athletes as the feel will do the job. If you have 50 great basketball players and your country wants to pay to send all 50, put them on a plane. Those countries with talent should send bigger teams. We could split up the Olympics like we do State Championships. Div 1,2,3 etc… Countries with a certain population compete in a specific division. But clearly this will not work as countries with the biggest populations do not have the best athletes. And we can’t go by S.E.S either. I like the time standard within your country idea and then send your best if they hit that standard. Currently it sits at 2:15 for the men.

  4. Mike says:

    Very interesting and thought provoking rant. Would be interesting if they let all qualifying times run the marathon regardless of country – I mean the Boston marathon boasts 27k runners and they seem to manage; how bad would ~100 be? That’s truly an offering of the best of the world, but the marathon is a “unique” olympic sport as it could easily accommodate a few hundred competitors, while other events like the 200m butterfly would be constrained by space and resources within the pool, even if you posted a qualifying time.

    All that said, I have a gut feeling that African nations will take 2 of the three medals in the men’s Olympic marathon with a wild card taking either the silver or bronze.

    Thanks for making me think…

  5. Blaine Moore says:

    There should be the IOC standard as it is now, and as it works now, but there should also be an automatic standard that if a country has more than 3 athletes below that tougher standard they can send more runners (perhaps have a tiered system.)

  6. Mark says:

    great article Junkie. Thx for sharing. 10,500 athlete’s for the world. Interesting.

  7. WT says:

    “hope your last name is Radcliffe and that you have genetics on your side”

    I thought you did a rant against using genetics as an excuse. You were saying that fat people shouldn’t use genetics as an excuse for being fat, but it seems that knife should cut both ways. I’m sure Paula will be the first to tell you that she works her ass off and will have to work exponentially harder in the comming years.

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Chuck Engle

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