Athletics abbreviations

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The sports under the umbrella of athletics, particularly track and field, use a variety 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 & Field News became the leader in creating and defining abbreviations in this field. These abbreviations have also been adopted by, among others, World Athletics; 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 pistol, 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.


Most records are subject to ratification by the governing body for that record. On the world level, that is World Athletics. Each body has their own procedure for ratifying the records: for example, USA Track & Field (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 U20 is added, it indicates an under-20 record, which indicates an athlete under 20 years of age before the end of the calendar year of the competition. If no age-specific infix is added, the athlete is considered senior.

  • WU20Rworld under-20 record (formerly WJR – world junior record)
  • AU20R – area (or continental) under-20 record (formerly AJR – area junior record)
  • NU20R – national under-20 record (for a specific country) (formerly NJR – national junior record)


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." World Athletics 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.

  • WBworld best (the best mark recorded for a non-IAAF world record event)
  • WBP – world best performance (the best mark recorded for a non-IAAF world record event)
  • AB – area (or continental) best (the best mark recorded for a non-IAAF world record event)
  • NB – national best (the best mark recorded for a non-national federation record event)
  • PBpersonal 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 leading (the best mark achieved worldwide within a given season)
  • EL – European leading (Europe leading) (the best mark achieved throughout Europe within a given season)

When U18 or Y (for Youth) is added, it indicates an under-18 record, for athletes under 18 years of age at the end of the calendar year of the competition.

  • WU18B or WU18Rworld under-18 best or record (formerly WYR or WYB – world youth record or best)
  • AU18B or AU18R – area (or continental) under-18 best or record (formerly AYR or AYB – area youth record or best)
  • NU18B or NU18R – national under-18 best or record (for a specific country) (formerly NYR or NYB – national youth record or best)

Sometimes, U23 is added to indicate under-23 records, for athletes under 23 years of age at the end of the calendar year of the competition.

  • WU23B or WU23Rworld under-23 best or record
  • AU23B or AU23R – area (or continental) under-23 best or record
  • NU23B or NU23R – national under-23 best or record (for a specific country)

Circumstances and conditions[edit]

For events where wind assistance is a factor (outdoor races 200 metres or less, long jump and triple jump), the wind reading is usually reported in metres per second (m/s).

  • + – time was taken at an intermediate distance in a longer race
  • a – (in a road race) course not record-eligible according to World Athletics rule 260.28
  • AC – also competed
  • c – converted mark
  • dh – downhill
  • DNF – did not finish
  • DNS – did not start
  • DQ – disqualified
  • h – hand timed
  • i – indoors
  • Mx – mixed-gender race
  • n – non-winning time
  • ND – no distance[2]
  • NT – no time
  • OT – oversized track
  • q – secondary qualifier, by next best time or distance to complete the prescribed field size, rather than achieving a place or measurement goal
  • qR – advanced to the next round by referee
  • qJ – advanced to the next round by jury appeal
  • Q – automatic qualifier in a major competition (see qualifying standards in athletics)
  • sh – short track, including "indoors" but also allowing for outdoor 200 metres tracks
  • Wo – women-only race
  • y – race measurement in yards
  • INT – international team (used in relay results where athletes are from different countries)

Field events[edit]

  • o – a cleared height in high jump or pole vault
  • x – a missed height in high jump or pole vault
  • r – athlete retired from competition
  • NH – no height
  • NM – no mark
  • - (formerly P) – athlete passed their attempt


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, alley start or relay breakline)
  • 168.6 – Knocking down hurdle out of lane
  • 168.7 – Illegal hurdle clearance 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 4 × 400 m relay begins running 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 or running beside an athlete while taking on refreshment or water


Organising bodies[edit]

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

Publications and statisticians[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.



  1. ^ "FAT vs Handheld Times". Gordie Richardson Oakland County 7th & 8th Grade Track Meet. Archived from the original on 1 April 2018. 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]