Athletics abbreviations

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The sports under the umbrella of athletics, particularly track and field, use a large number of statistics. In order to report that information efficiently, numerous abbreviations have grown to be common in the sport.

Starting in 1948 by Bert Nelson and Cordner Nelson, Track and Field News became the leader in creating and defining abbreviations in this field. But these abbreviations have also been adopted by, among others, the IAAF; the world governing body, various domestic governing bodies, the Association of Track and Field Statisticians, the Association of Road Racing Statisticians, the Associated Press and the individual media outlets who receive their reports. These abbreviations also appear in Wikipedia.

Times and marks[edit]

Almost all races record a time. Evolving since experiments in the 1930s, to their official use at the 1968 Summer Olympics and official acceptance in 1977, fully automatic times have become common. As this evolution has occurred, the rare early times were specified as FAT times. As they are now commonplace, automatic times are now expressed using the hundredths of a second. Hand times (watches operated by human beings) are not regarded as accurate and thus are only accepted to the accuracy of a tenth of a second even when the watch displays greater accuracy. If the mark was set before 1977, a converted time to the tenth was recorded for record purposes, because they did not have a system to compare between the timing methods. Frequently in those cases there is a mark to the 100th retained for that race. Over this period of evolution, some reports show hand times also followed with an "h" or "ht" to distinguish hand times.

With two different timing methods came the inevitable desire to compare times. Track and Field News initiated adding .24 to hand times as a conversion factor. Many electronic hand stopwatches display times to the hundredth. Frequently those readings are recorded, but are not accepted as valid (leading to confused results). Some low level meets have even hand timed runners and have switched places according to the time displayed on the stopwatch. All of this is, of course, wrong. Hand times are not accurate enough to be accepted for record purposes for short races. Human reaction time is not perfectly identical between different human beings. Hand times involve human beings reacting, pushing the stopwatch button when they see the smoke or hear the sound of the Starting pistol, then reacting (possibly anticipating) the runner crossing the finish line. The proper procedure for converting hand times would be to round any hundredths up to the next higher even tenth of a second and then add the .24 to get a time for comparison purposes only.[1] But many meets displayed the converted marks accurate to the hundredth making the results look like they were taken with fully automatic timing. In these cases, some meets have displayed a 4 or a 0 in the hundredths column for all races. When detected, reports of these times are followed by a "c" or ' to indicate converted times.

Road race times are only considered accurate to a full second. To distinguish a full second time with hours, from a minute time with hundredths of a second, colons are used to separate hours from minutes, and minutes from seconds. A period is used to separate seconds from hundredths of a second.

Transponder timing is becoming more common. The RFID detection system times the transponder chip, usually located on a runner's shoe as opposed to the official timing of the torso. Accurate to a full second, this is not significant, but in breaking microscopic ties, the data does not correspond to timing rules. Most road races cannot fit all participants onto the start line. Depending on the size of the field, some athletes could be several city blocks away from the start line and in the large crowd, could take minutes to get across the line. Results frequently indicate two times, the "gun time" would be the official time from the firing of the starting gun, but the mat time shows the time the shoe crossed a sensing mat at the start line to the time the shoe crossed the sensing mat at the finish line.

Occasionally, when breaking ties using photo finish, times are displayed to the thousandth of a second. These times to the thousandth are not used for record purposes but times to the thousandth can be used to break ties between adjacent heats. Rules specify if a tie is broken this way, that all heats involved are recorded with the same timing system.

Records[edit]

Most records are subject to ratification by the governing body for that record. On the world level, that is the IAAF. Each body has their own procedure for ratifying the records: for example, USATF, the governing body for the United States, only ratifies records once a year at their annual meeting at the beginning of December. Until a record is ratified, it is regarded as "Pending" which is sometimes indicated by a following P

When a J is added, it indicates a junior record (if a junior does not reach their 20th birthday in the calendar year of the mark)

  • WJR = World Junior Record
  • AJR = Area (or continental) Junior Record
  • NJR = National Junior Record (for a specific country)
  • # = indicates a record has not been accepted, or there is some sort of irregularity with a result
  • X = indicates the athlete has been disqualified after the performance (usually, this is for taking performance-enhancing drugs)

Bests[edit]

Some records are ratified or tracked, but they are not to the same standard of quality or accuracy as a record. The term is "bests." IAAF lists bests for the Youth division and for road racing records such as the marathon. It also tracks athlete personal achievements as bests. A Y indicates Youth. A youth athlete has not reached or will not reach their 18th birthday in the calendar year of competition.

  • WYB = World Youth Best (the best mark achieved by an athlete in the youth age category)
  • WB = World Best (the best mark recorded for a non-IAAF world record event)
  • PB = Personal Best (the best mark achieved by an athlete on a personal level)
  • SB = Season's Best (the best mark achieved by an athlete on a personal level within a given season)
  • WL = World Leader (the best mark achieved worldwide within a given season)

Circumstances and conditions[edit]

For events where wind assistance is a factor (outdoor races 220 yards or less, Long Jump and Triple Jump), the wind reading is usually reported in metres per second or "m/s"

  • a = in a road race, indicates a course that has conditions that assist the athlete (downhill, favoring wind, point to point)
  • + = indicates a time was taken at an intermediate distance in a longer race
  • c = indicates a converted mark
  • DNF = Did not finish
  • DNS = Did not start
  • DQ = Disqualified
  • i = indoors
  • n = non-winning time
  • h = hand timed
  • Mx = mixed gender race
  • NH = No height
  • NM = No mark
  • NT = No time
  • ND = No distance[2]
  • AC = Also competed
  • Q = automatic qualifier in a major competition See Qualifying standards in athletics
  • q = secondary qualifier, by next best time or distance to complete the prescribed field size, rather than achieving a place or measurement goal
  • Wo = women only race
  • y = race measurement was in yards

Disqualifications[edit]

Athlete disqualifications often reference the IAAF rule number under which the athlete was disqualified.

This is typically written in the format (false start as example): DQ R162.7[3]

  • 40.1 – Doping violation during or in connection with the championships
  • 40.8 – Prior doping violation leading to suspension during the period of the championships
  • 41.1 – Doping violation by one or more relay team members
  • 142.4 – Failure to participate honestly with bona fide effort
  • 144.2 – Giving or receiving assistance (e.g. pacing, use of electronic devices)
  • 145.2 – Acting in an unsporting or improper manner (unsportsmanlike conduct)
  • 149 - Entry to championships on the grounds of invalid performances
  • 162.7 – False start
  • 163.2 – Jostling or obstructing another athlete on the track
  • 163.3 – Running out of lane
  • 163.5 – Running out of lane (before 800 m breakline)
  • 168.6 – Knocking down hurdle out of lane
  • 168.7 – Illegal hurdle clearance and/or deliberately knocking down hurdle
  • 170.6 – Baton not carried by hand; gloves or substances worn to give a better grip of the baton
  • 170.6c – Dropped baton not retrieved by the athlete who dropped it
  • 170.7 – Baton not passed within take-over zone
  • 170.8 – Obstructing another team by athlete without baton
  • 170.11 – Unverified team composition or running order
  • 170.17 – Outgoing runner in 4x400m relay begins running and/or breaks from lane too early
  • 218.4 – Illegal change of position by waiting relay runner (indoor events)
  • 230.6a – Failure to comply with definition of race walking according to three different judges
  • 240.8e – Illegal action by person authorised to hand refreshment to athlete
  • 240.8f – More than two team officials stationed behind drinks table and/or running beside an athlete while taking on refreshment or water

Initialisms[edit]

Organising bodies[edit]

The various organizing bodies of the sport are abbreviated into alphabet soup.

Publications and statisticians[edit]

Events[edit]

Due to the large number of athletics events that are regularly contested, presentations of results and statistics often use abbreviations to refer to the events, rather than the full form.

Competitions[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "FAT vs Handheld Times". Gordie Richardson Oakland County 7th & 8th Grade Track Meet. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  2. ^ "What does ND abbreviation stand for in athletics results". Sports Stack Exchange.
  3. ^ Butler, Mark et al. (2013). IAAF Statistics Book Moscow 2013 (archived), p. 71. IAAF. Retrieved on 2015-07-06.

External links[edit]