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  • Writer's pictureNina Zarina

Redefining Olympic Standards: Insights into the Marathon 2025

Updated: May 13

“The Olympic spirit requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play”

Over the past decade, there has been a notable increase in the standards required to qualify for the Olympic Games marathon. Once more, there are speculations about potential changes for 2025. It raises my question: why we continually debate time standards rather than exploring options to increase the athlete quota.

This post will feature only numerical data related to women's marathons, as It’s my field and I’m for sure more familiar with that. Here is statistics regarding qualification standard A, along with the number of athletes and participating nations.

2000 (2:33, 53 from 36 nations), 

2004 (2:37, 82 from 46 nations), 

2008 (2:37, 82 from 42 nations), 

2012 (2:37, 118 from 67 nations), 

2016 (2:45, 157 from 80 nations), 

2020 (2:29:30, 88 from 44 nations), 

2024 (2:26:50,….)

As for today, there's a discussion circulating that the qualification standard for the 2025 World Championship might be established at 2:23:30, which usually corresponds to the same numbers for the upcoming Olympic qualification standard. 

The reasoning behind elevating the standard often involves restricting quotas to 80-100 athletes.  But why is the marathon quota so tight?

It's evident from the statistics that tighter standards led to a decrease in the representation of nations, a trend that goes against the core values of the Olympic Spirit. This alarming direction of development is my main concern. The limitation seems unfair by default. Each country can send three athletes, and considering there are 193-195 countries globally, the initial allocation of spots doesn't seem fair in terms of representation. It’s initially less than even one athlete per country.

Yes, our topic of discussion centers around the Olympics, a specific and unique event known for bringing together countries, nations, and people in the spirit of participation and friendship. Conversely, competitions like the World Championship, Major Marathons, and Road Running Championships are clearly driven by commercial interests, prioritizing performance and results.

There is no unsolvable technical issues, as we know many marathons worldwide who host more than 1000 runners. We have the necessary skills to manage this situation.

Money for hosting more participants? How much do you think it cost? 

The IOC has been steadily increasing its investment in the Olympic Games year after year. In the 2024, there was notable news of a $50,000 award for each Olympic Champion. With 329 medal events scheduled for Paris, it doesn't seem like a situation where cost-cutting is the focus.

Here are some interesting reports with financial data:

Indeed, we women are getting faster in running, but why does our significant progress lead to punishment? Why will more athletes be cut off and give up on their Olympic dreams? It would be great to see our official athletics bodies grow alongside us and invite more athletes to the marathon instead. 

Olympic Charter: 

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