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What is the IAAF world ranking system and why does it matter?

An explanation of the new IAAF world rankings system

IAAF World Indoor Championships

The IAAF world ranking system, which launched last week, allows athletes to compare not only their times, but their specific performances against the rest of the world. The system aggregates points based on a runner’s time, placing and the importance of a competition. 

IAAF World Track & Field Championships 2015. Beijing, China. Photo: Claus Andersen

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The IAAF says, “World Rankings can also be used as a tool to compare multiple performances across a range of competitions. By applying standardized compilation methods, it is therefore possible to evaluate the comparative quality of the participating fields at competitions of the same type and to produce Competition Performance Rankings. ”

IAAF president Sebastian Coe told the BBC last week, “For the first time in the sport’s history, athletes, media and fans will have a clear understanding of the hierarchy of competitions from national through to area and up to global events, allowing them to follow a logical season-long path to the pinnacle of athletics’ top two competitions.” The top two competitions he’s referring to are the World Championships and the Olympics. 

IAAF World Track & Field Championships Beijing 2015. Photo: Claus Andersen

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The World Ranking System was originally billed as a part of the selection process for the 2019 Doha World Championships, but was later removed from the selection criteria. It’s currently being used on a trial basis and may be used as part of team selection in the future. 

RELATED: Standards released for Doha World Championships 2019

For Canadians, the 2019 world championships team selection is similar to 2017. The top performer in each event at the national championship will receive an automatic spot on the team, in the event that they have run standard. The track and field championships will take place July 25-28 in Montreal. 

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