Sat. May 28th, 2022


Qualification for the combined events at major championships was until recently a relatively straightforward process. Achieve the qualifying standard within the relevant timescale, fulfil the selection requirements of your national Federation, and the job was done.

That was the system for the World Championships in 2019 in Doha. Athletes who scored over 8200 in the decathlon and 6300 in the heptathlon qualified automatically. Any remaining places were filled by the next best performances from the year’s world lists.

But the system changed in 2020 for the Tokyo Olympics. While a qualifying standard still applied – 8350 for the decathlon and 6420 for the heptathlon – the fields were topped up using the new world rankings list, instead of the next best scores on the world lists.

Weekly analysis

World Athletics updates the rankings list every Wednesday, taking into account the performances from the previous weekend.

But the WA list does not easily display where each athlete achieved their big rankings score, which performances are about to expire, and who’s missing from the rankings. It doesn’t easily show the outlier performances, for example where a modest results score has been boosted by the placing score at the competition at which it was achieved.

So, every week (less frequently during quiet periods) an update will be published here with an analysis of the latest rankings position, including:

  • Who has moved up the list, and why;
  • Who has moved down the list;
  • Who is a new entry on the list; and
  • Who has fallen off the list.

And where possible:

  • What rankings-rich competitions are coming up; and
  • Who is on the entry lists for those competitions.

You can read the Decathletes of Europe weekly analysis and the links below, starting with the rankings as at 15 February:

Rankings Analysis, 29 March -11th/12th place placing points wasted from Belgrade as only 10 athletes finish
– World Indoor rankings boost for Moloney, Vidts, Sulek, Mills, Conte, Skrivanova, Cambours and Oberholzer
– After dropping out of ranking, Lindon Victor is a re-entry thanks to Belgrade
– Big PB for Ligarska too late for Belgrade, so only marginal ranking improvement
-Hawkins moves up after US champs but moves down again after Belgrade DNF
– Hall, Owens, Garland improve ranking position after big SEC/NCAA/Texas Relays scores (but lower NCAA scores more valuable than higher SEC/Razorback scores)
– First 8000 decathlon of year is by Neugebauer, and improves his position
– Salming and Erm drop position as scores expire, Nowak drops out of top 100
– Kate O’Connor unranked as scores expire
-Ehammer, Hausenberg and KJT still unranked until they compete outdoors
– Dubler’s 8393 will improve his position in next week’s rankings update
Rankings Analysis, 22 February– Shkurenyov posts 3rd best score of year at Russian champs, but not yet ANA
– Garland back into contention for qualification, Oberholzer drops out of 11th place
– Ehammer, Owens, Garland, Hausenberg and Makarenko currently in qualification position for Belgrade heptathlon;
– Sulek, Mills, Skrivanova, Vicente and Loban currently qualified for pentathlon;
– Urena and Uibo compete this weekend at Spanish Championships
– Scantling, Bastien, Williams and Bougard compete at US Championships
– Cambours, Gerevini and Dester in action at French and Italian champs
Rankings Analysis 15 February:– Sykora leaps from 26th to 17th in rankings following Czech champs;
– Ehammer, Owens, Hausenberg, Makarenko and Oberholzer currently in qualification position for Belgrade heptathlon;
– Sulek, Mills, Skrivanova, Vicente and Loban currently qualified for pentathlon;
– Key points from current top 32 rankings including Schrodinger’s Heptathlon;
– Analysis of big scores with low rankings, and low scores with big rankings;
– World Champions Kaul and KJT have dropped out of the rankings, as have TVDP, Victor, Braun, Schaefer and more

How the rankings work

The rankings are calculated on a combination of three elements:

  • The number of points an athlete achieved in a combined event
  • The competition in which they achieved that performance
  • The position they placed in the competition

The first bullet is turned into a results score. The second two bullets together contribute to a placing score.

The performance score is the sum of the results score and the placing score.

The ranking score is the average of an athlete’s two best performance scores.

It is this number which determines position on the rankings list. The ranking score is typically between 1000 and 1500 for the top 100 athletes.

The full details on how results scores and placing scores are determined can be found on the World Athletics website. The site also explains the different points available in various categories of competitions, and the limitations that apply to collecting points (e.g., World v Olympic, nationals, decathlon v heptathlon v pentathlon, expiry dates).

Considering rankings scores when planning competitions

Athletes and coaches now need to take the rankings into account when planning their strategy to secure qualification for major championships. This is especially important if athletes are not likely to be in a position to achieve the automatic standard during the qualifying period.

For example, decisions are required on whether to focus on potential big placing scores at national championships, even with poor conditions and/or little competition; or whether to focus on results scores in good conditions with good competition, but with little or no placing score.

This page, and the weekly posts which will be linked below, are intended to support athletes and coaches in considering where they compete, as well as how well they compete.

The posts will highlight the features common to those who qualify, the opportunities from which some have benefited, and the dangers of landing a big score in the wrong place.

Rankings v World lists v Qualification

It can be complicated to keep track of rankings lists, world lists, and qualification lists for championships.

Qualification can depend on the policies of individual Federations, the status of ANA athletes and the priorities of NCAA athletes. “Protected” places also come into play in certain indoor championship, as do maximum numbers of individual countries.

Further restrictions are imposed by the reduction and limitation of field sizes. This particular challenge in March 2021 led to Fredrik Samuelsson’s and Decathletes of Europe’s work to lobby for an increase in field sizes. That work has resulted in an agreement by European Athletics to trial a bigger field size at the European Indoors in 2023.

The weekly analysis above will summarise changes to the current qualification position for relevant major Championships. You can, however, check who is qualified at any time through the excellent “Road to…” pages on the World Athletics website, which integrate rankings, automatic qualification from world lists and field sizes.

Road to Belgrade

Road to Oregon

Qualification for Belgrade World Indoor Championships

The field of 12 for the Belgrade World Indoor heptathlon and pentathlon will be chosen as follows:

  • The winner of the Combined Events Challenge from 2021
  • The five top athletes on the world lists from the 2021 outdoor season who wish to compete indoors (max one per country);
  • The five top athletes on the world lists from the 2021-2022 indoor season, as at 1 March, who wish to participate in the championships;
  • One discretionary place, to be decided by World Athletics.