uugbfiudb wrote:A few years ago there was a swimmer from equatorial guinea who (I'm exaggerating a little) almost drowned at the Olympics, he was in like a 2 minute race and swam 3 minutes if I recall correctly.
To make sure something like this doesn't happen, athletes must have the olympic standard time (3:35) or be in the top 40?? (Someone correct me if I'm wrong on that) in the world rankings. This means that smaller countries can't send three runners if they don't have three runners who are Olympic-caliber.
Because the US (usually) has at least 3 people under the olympic standard, we have a Trials meet where you must finish in the top three to qualify for the olympics. However, this sometimes creates the interesting dynamic we have now, where somebody in the top 3 doesn't have the standard and is thus on the bubble and has to rely on world rankings to get in (and from what I'm hearing, Hocker's world ranking should be high enough that he will qualify this way).
However, if the athlete who finishes in the top 3 doesn't qualify on world ranking or have the standard, their spot goes to the next guy on the list who does qualify on world ranking / have the olympic standard. In this case, that person is Engels, and that's the situation that they're in here.
You're conflating history a bit here. Olympic standards have been around to prevent embarrassing situations for a very long time (and each sport handles them differently). Historically, there were A and B standards for athletics (countries could send up to 3 with the A or only one with the B). One additional wrinkle was that every country was entitled one Olympian per sex, regardless of the standard. So if you're some tiny country who can't qualify anyone, you can send a guy to run a three-hour marathon in the Olympics.
In Rio, they scrapped the B and went with a single standard. Not sure the reasoning, but it prevented situations like the US had in the past, where the winner of an event at the Trials might have the B, and one guy behind him had the A. B would be provisionally on the team, but if anyone else managed to run an A before the qualifying window closed, the B guy would get bumped because policy is to send the largest team possible.
That system has been entirely replaced by the hybrid standard/ranking system. Anyone who qualifies (up to three total) is in, but the time standards are much, much tougher, so world rankings were supposed to be the main way in. This wasn't so much because it was thought to be a better or more fair system for the Olympics, but rather to improve other races by getting athletes to compete head to head more often.
In this vein, one change I'd love to see would be WA making a requirement that countries are required to select the winner of their national meet who has the standard, and perhaps the runner up as well. Selection committees are vile things, contrary to the spirit of athletics. It's the one sport where someone's opinion of your ability isn't supposed to matter; you run the time, on the day, and the clock tells the world how good you are.