Thursday 24 October 2019

Mark English calls for transparency after omission from Worlds


Mark English. Photo: Sportsfile
Mark English. Photo: Sportsfile

Cathal Dennehy

A frustrated Mark English hit out at a lack of transparency from his sport's governing body after the three-time European medallist missed out on a place at this year's World Championships.

Having fallen just shy of the qualifying standard of 1:45.80 in the men's 800m, English was awaiting an invite from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) via its dropdown system, which offers places to athletes just outside the qualifying standard in events where the athlete quota has not been reached.

In the men's 800m the target number of athletes was 48 and on the closing day of qualification for next week's championships in Doha, English was ranked 41st of those eligible. The 26-year-old had been training hard in the hope of receiving an invite, but the door shut yesterday when the IAAF published its provisional entries.

"We don't know anything and that's the problem with this whole system," said English. "It's not clear enough, it's not transparent enough and there's just way too much ambiguity. It's really frustrating."

English missed out due to the places being taken by unqualified athletes, with the IAAF allowing each federation to enter one male and female athlete who haven't hit the qualifying mark. Eight such athletes - from Oman, UAE, East Timor, Myanmar, Kosovo, Jordan, Equatorial Guinea and Andorra - elected to run the men's 800m. This means English will be forced to watch from home despite running several seconds quicker than them.

"I think the unqualified athletes should be limited to six per event so then if you're (ranked) 40th, you at least know there's a good chance you'll be going," he said.

"But there could be 15 of those athletes or two and there's no way of knowing. You're left in limbo and it's a big inconvenience for anyone on the borderline.

"The IAAF had all the information of those unqualified athletes since August 26 and they didn't decide to share it with anyone so I was left waiting to hear about my fate. You can't plan anything."

English's best this year was the 1:45.94 he ran to take victory at the Birmingham Diamond League. But with the door now shut, he commenced his end-of-season break yesterday.

After completing medical research in the autumn, the recent UCD graduate will commit to full-time athletics before the Tokyo Olympics.

But he fears athletes could be left with the same issues next year despite a new rankings system being in place for Olympic qualification.

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