2016 Olympic Track and Field Qualification Standards

The U.S. earned an automatic entry to the 2016 Olympics when LaShawn Merritt crossed the finish line first at the 2015 IAAF World Relays. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

There’s a new wrinkle in Olympic track and field qualifying in 2016. To ensure a sufficient number of competitors in all events, the IAAF has opened the door to inviting some otherwise non-qualifying athletes to compete in the Rio de Janeiro Games. To this end, the IAAF will publish world ranking lists for most individual events on July 12, 2016, one day after the standard Olympic qualification period ends.

The track and field governing body may then invite additional competitors to fill out the fields of some events.

The IAAF’s target number of entrants for each men’s and women’s event is as follows:

100 meters - 56 (not including athletes who are eliminated in the preliminary round)

200 meters - 56

400 and 800 meters - 48

1500 meters and 3000-meter steeplechase - 45

All hurdles events - 40

All field events, including the decathlon and heptathlon - 32

Athletes in the 5000 meters, 10,000 meters, the marathon and all race walks must qualify by meeting the appropriate entry standard. The IAAF will not invite additional athletes in those events.

Entry Standards

In most cases, athletes must qualify for the Olympic Games by meeting or exceeding the entry standard for their event, and then must be selected to compete by their national Olympic committee. The 2016 entry standards – which were partially modified in November 2015 – are as follows:

  • 100 meters: men 10.16; women 11.32
  • 200 meters: men 20.50; women 23.20
  • 400 meters: men 45.40; women 52.20
  • 800 meters: men 1:46:00; women 2:01.50
  • 1500 meters: men 3:36.20; women 4:07.00
  • 5000 meters: men 13:25.00; women 15:24.00
  • 10,000 meters: 28:00.00; women 32:15.00
  • Marathon: men 2:19:00; women 2:45:00
  • Steeplechase: men 8:30.00; women 9:45.00
  • 110/100-meter hurdles: men 13.47; women 13.00
  • 400-meter hurdles: men 49.40; women 56.20
  • High jump: men 2.29 meters (7 feet, 6 inches); women 1.93/6-4
  • Pole vault: men 5.70/18-8¼; women 4.50/14-9
  • Long jump: men 8.15/26-8¾; women 6.70/21-11¾
  • Triple jump: men 16.85/55-3¼; women 14.15/46-5
  • Shot put: men 20.50/67-3; women 17.75/58-3
  • Discus throw: men 65.0/213-3; women 61.0/200-1
  • Hammer throw: men 77.0/252-7; women 71.0/232-11
  • Javelin throw: men 83.0/272-3; women 62.0/203-5
  • Decathlon/Heptathlon: men 8100; women 6200
  • 20-kilometer race walk: men 1:24:00; women 1:36:00
  • 50-kilometer race walk: men 4:06:00

For most events, qualifying performances must be attained between May 1, 2015 and July 11, 2016. The qualification period for the 10,000 meters, all race walks and the combined events is January 1, 2015 through July 11, 2016.

Additionally, in both the men’s and women’s marathon, runners may qualify for the 2016 Olympics by finishing in the top 20 at the 2015 World Championships or among the top 10 during the IAAF Gold Label Marathon races held during the qualification period.

Relay Teams

Sixteen national teams will compete each relay event in Rio. The top eight finishers in the men’s and women’s 4 x 100- and 4 x 400-meter relay events at the 2015 IAAF World Relays competition will qualify automatically.

The IAAF will select the remainder of each Olympic relay field, based on each nation’s two fastest times achieved during the qualification period of January 1, 2015 through July 11, 2016.

Other Olympic Eligibility Requirements

Each national team may include three qualified athletes per male and female event. Should a nation have no qualified athletes of one gender, it may enter one athlete of that gender in one track and field event, except for the decathlon, heptathlon, 10,000-meter run or steeplechase. If entered in a field event or a road race, however, these otherwise unqualified athletes will be subject to approval by IAAF Technical Delegates.

Athletes who are at least 20 years old as of December 31, 2016 are eligible to qualify for any Olympic event. Athletes aged 18 or 19 on that date may qualify for any event except the marathon or the 50-kilometer race walk.

Competitors aged 16 or 17 on that date are ineligible to qualify for the decathlon, heptathlon, any race walk, any throwing event or the 10,000-meter run. Athletes younger than 16 on December 31, 2016 are ineligible to qualify for any 2016 Olympic track and field event. 

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