Sat. May 28th, 2022

This is the second in a new weekly series of posts providing an analysis of developments in qualification for major championships, and the current world rankings for combined events.

The posts will typically be short, simply providing a quick analysis of developments over the previous week and potential implications for qualification.

You can read the first, longer introductory post which highlights useful case studies from 2020 and 2021 and identifies issues to consider when planning a strategy for qualification.

QUALIFICATION FOR BELGRADE WORLD INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS

You can find the most up-to-date position for qualification for the heptathlon and pentathlon at the World Indoors at the World Athletics “Road to Belgrade” tool.

The field size for Belgrade is 12 athletes, consisting of:

  • 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 of 1 March, who wish to participate in the championships; AND
  • One discretionary place, to be decided by World Athletics.
  • There is a maximum of 2 athletes per country

HEPTATHLON

The qualification window for Belgrade closes on 1 March, so this is the last weekend in which athletes can qualify by way of their position on the 2021-22 world lists.

For the heptathlon, the qualified athletes as of 24 February are:

In 2021, Pierce LePage (Canada) and Steven Bastien (USA) were both ahead of Tilga on the outdoor world lists but as the second athlete from their respective countries behind Warner and Scantling – and only one per country is allowed by that criterion – they will have to qualify by performance this season if they wish to compete.

The key change from last week is that Kyle Garland (USA) – who scored 6163 at the same meeting as Owens in Fayetteville at the end of January – is now showing among the qualified athletes from 2021-22, and hence presumably available for selection. Garland and Owens would need to navigate their respective college championships to compete in Belgrade, which seems ambitious, but for now they remain on World Athletics’ qualification list.

Garland’s inclusion pushes Andri Oberholzer out of the 11 places for which the criteria are clear, but he remains next on the list.

At the time of writing, the World Athletics 2021-22 toplists do not yet take account of the Russian Championships this week. Artem Makarenko didn’t improve on his season’s best of 6115 when he finished second, but Ilya Shkurenyov’s victory in 6216 moves him third behind Ehammer and Owens in 2021-22.

However, the 2015 European Indoor Champion has not yet received ANA status for 2022. There is no reason to think that would be an issue in principle, but Shkurenyov experienced delays in his confirmation ahead of the Olympics last year, and until his status has been confirmed, he won’t be eligible.

This coming weekend there are two national championships which have the potential to influence qualification.

The 2019 European Indoor champion and 2021 silver medallist Jorge Ureña goes in the Spanish championships in Ourense. It would be strange to have a major indoor championships without Ureña in the field, but he will likely need to be within 100 or so points of his 6249 PB to make the cut this year.

He will be joined by Maicel Uibo, competing as a guest, who was hugely unfortunate to no-height on borrowed poles in Tallinn in February. Uibo has a higher bar to clear than Ureña for qualification. While Ureña only needs to score higher than Makarenko, Uibo would need to overhaul Hausenberg’s 6143 if he wants to claim the second Estonian spot currently reserved in Belgrade.

The big event is in Spokane, where the US Track and Field championships will take place. The US team is currently full, with Scantling and Garland qualified, but that’s not the end of the story.

Steven Bastien is placed higher than Tilga in the 2021 outdoor lists, but Scantling has the single country place available to the USA through that route. There is some discussion about whether USATF might seek to take a creative approach to the invitations extended to its athletes in different categories. In a restricted field of 12, that would raise some questions.

But all things being equal, Bastien would need to score higher than Garland (and of course be selected by USATF) to qualify via the world lists. Bastien’s heptathlon PB is actually only 5810, from 2016, but that does not reflect his fantastic breakthrough in 2021. He hasn’t completed a heptathlon in the last 4-5 years, but he should now be well capable of a 6000+ score.

The French and Italian championships are also taking place; a fit Basile Rolnin would be a 6000-point contender but that is a big ask for the talented Frenchman this season. Dario Dester is also an outside contender if he can replicate his 2021 national record form.

Next on the 2021-22 list behind Makarenko are:

  • Andri Oberholzer (Switzerland) 6041
  • Marcel Meyer (Germany) 6024
  • Leo Neugebauer (Germany) 6021 – in the NCAA system
  • Jiři Sýkora (Czech Republic) 6020
  • Risto Lillemets (Estonia) 6006 – not currently eligible as the third Estonian
  • Sander Skotheim (Norway) 5965

There have been no changes in the rankings for the outdoor season, as updated on 22 February.

PENTATHLON

For the pentathlon, there have been no changes to the qualified athletes in the last week. As of 24 February, they are:

Erica Bougard (USA), Emma Oosterwegel (Netherlands) and Noor Vidts (Belgium) would have been eligible based on their 2021 performances on the world lists but since only one athlete per country is permitted through this route – and Kunz, Vetter and Thiam are ahead of them in line respectively to take those spots if they want them – they will have to qualify by right.

Yargelis Rodriguez has not competed indoors this season, nor has the European Indoor bronze medallist Xenia Krizsan. It’s possible that not all the 5 2021 places will be used, which would create more room for qualification via performances this season. Germany’s Carolin Schäfer and Trinidad and Tobago’s Tyra Gittens are next on the 2021 lists. It would be ironic if Gittens’ 6418 put her in contention for World Indoors, while the same score is essentially useless for rankings purposes for Olympic and World Outdoors qualification.

No more Americans can be considered unless one of Williams or Kunz were to decide not to compete. Williams and Bougard are due to compete at the national championships this weekend, as are Ashtin Zamzow-Mahler and Chari Hawkins, but the newly engaged Annie Kunz (congratulations!) is not.

If Kunz is not planning to seek qualification for Belgrade, that brings Bougard back into qualification via the 2021 route. Again, USATF may apply their own selection criteria in deciding which combinations of USA athletes will go to Belgrade.

The one to watch in the various European national championships this coming weekend is Leonie Cambours, who may be to the 2022 indoor season what Celia Perron was to the 2021 season. If Cambours can get closer to some of her 2021 outdoor marks indoors at the French championships, then she should be able to improve her PB of 4457 and get closer to the top 5.

Likewise, Sveva Gerevini is in great form following her national record in Clermont Ferrand, and with the standings so close, another 50–60-point improvement at the Italian Championships could take her into contention.

Next on the list behind Loban are:

  • Maria Huntington (Finland) 4476
  • Sarah Lagger (Austria) 4468
  • Leonie Cambours (France) 4457
  • Sveva Gerevini (Italy) 4434

There have been no changes to the overall rankings, as updated on 22 February.