With the 2024 Paris Olympic Games just months away, opportunities to meet official qualification times are becoming fewer and fewer.
3k too short, to be exact.
Through no fault of their own, none of the results for the women who raced the 20k race walk at the Pan American Games will be eligible for 2024 Olympic qualification. The race results were officially annulled after it was discovered that the course was 3k short.
The current women’s world record is 1:23:49, held by Jiayu Yang of China.
Suspicions continued to rise after twelve of the fifteen competitors finished under the current world record mark and comfortably under the 1:29:20 qualification standard for the women’s Olympic 20k race walk.
Race winner García said she suspected something wasn’t right since the beginning of the race.
“I realized it since the first kilometer. The time did not coincide with the distance,” she said to the Associated Press.
García has already secured her spot in the 2024 Olympic Games. However, many of her competitors have yet to meet the entry standard and were counting on this opportunity to try and punch their ticket to next year’s Olympics.
😳 ¡Insólita situación en los Juegos Panamericanos de #SANTIAGO2023!— doble amarilla ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@okdobleamarilla) October 29, 2023
🔝La peruana Kimberly Garcia ganó la medalla de oro en Marcha Atlética realizándola en tiempo récord
❌Luego los organizadores notaron que el trazado tenía tres kilómetros menos
Athletes can earn their spot in the Olympic Games by either meeting the qualification time or by being placed high enough in the World Athletics ranking by earning points at different events. The latter is a much less guaranteed method, and many athletes want to meet the qualification standard to guarantee their entry.
In an official press release, the Association of Pan American Athletics (APA) held exclusive responsibility for the lack of accurate measurement and the results being nullified.
APA is the only organization that was authorized to measure the course in line with international regulations and was, therefore, the only body that could be held responsible.
“According to the international regulations, APA is the only organization authorized to measure and is therefore responsible for the official distance of the competition,” the press release said.
The press release specifically highlights Mr. Marcelo Ithurralde, the expert commissioned by the APA to measure the routes to be taken by the athletes, had not been accurate in his measurements.
Since the measurement error quickly came to light following the women’s race, race organizers had enough time to re-measure and re-adjust the course prior to the men’s start.
Although it resulted in a one-hour delay for the men’s start, their race results were official and eligible for Olympic qualification.
📌‼️💥 OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE— Santiago 2023 (@santiago2023) October 29, 2023
➡️Regarding the female race walk event issue. pic.twitter.com/cwJnrYxYKA
Considering weather conditions were ideal, it was a prime opportunity for North and South American athletes to qualify for the Olympic Games.
“It didn’t affect myself alone,” García told the Associated Press, “I wanted the Pan American record. Other girls wanted a sport in the Olympic Games. It is a shame that will not happen because the weather, everything was fit for good timings.”
Despite a rocky start to the athletics program at the Pan American Games, there are still a number of exciting events on the track in the coming days.