Nothing quite as exciting as becoming an Olympian.

Win the Olympic Trials javelin and then sit around and wait a week and a half while some ranking system that’s so complicated nobody on Earth understands it (and isn’t even explained anywhere that we’ve been able to find) decides to update itself and give you enough information to figure out for yourself that, yeah, you’re an Olympian.

is this any way to run a sport? Welcome to U.S. Track and Field.

What a mess.

Curtis Thompson, the world-class javelin thrower from Florence, can now safely – finally – say he’s an Olympian.

We think.

edit – At about 1 p.m., Thompson made it official on Twitter!

Five years after coming up three inches short of winning the Trials and being forced to stay home because of an archaic qualifying rule, Thompson learned he’s an Olympian based on an equally archaic and complex series of qualifying rules in use for the first time.

Thompson won the javelin at the U.S. Trials last month with a throw of 271-3. Because that was just short of the IAAF’s javelin standard of 85 meters (278-10) – a standard only 11 people in the world have reached this year and only three Americans have EVER reached, none since 2007 – he had to wait to learn if he qualified based on a world ranking system the IAAF uses.

Although the details are apparently a closely guarded secret that USATF and IAAF don’t want anybody to know, the system ranks athletes not just on their performance – Thompson is ranked 19th in the world – but on their top five performances over a period of time that appears to be three years (but we’re not sure). Each performance is assigned a numeral grade based on the performance, the importance of the meet and the athlete’s place. Each athlete’s top-five scores are averaged out into a ranking figure, and even if you don’t have the standard, if this figure is among the top 32 in the world as of today and you finished in the top three in the Trials, you’re an OlympIan.

With us so far?

The deadline for athletes to update their scores was yesterday. Thompson, as you can see (click here), is either 27th or 24th, depending on whether you use the ranking on the left side of the screen or the one on the right. We have no idea which one is the important one because none of this is explained anywhere and USATF has refused to return messages we left asking them to explain any of this.

But the important thing is both numbers – 24 and 27 – are less than 32, which means Thompson is safely in the qualifying range after the June 30 deadline for athletes to improve their ranking.

The only thing we don’t know is if this site has been updated through all meets that count in the scoring system. There is no date on the list and neither the USATF or IAAF has bothered to release any information about qualifying.

In any case, even if the list isn’t final, the odds that six (or nine) javelin throwers could improve their score enough to unseat Thompson at this point is statistically zero. 

He’s going to Tokyo.

People wonder why track and field is struggling. Why stands are empty at meets. Why the mainstream media generally ignores it.


The USATF should have this all spelled out on the front of its catastrophically wretched web site, with a countdown — “CURTIS THOMPSON’S COUNTDOWN TO TOKYO” – that people can follow. On the contrary, they’ve never even mentioned the event on their web site since the Trials in Eugene.

This has to be the worst-run organization on the planet. Curtis Thompson appears to have made the Olympic team and should be on his way to Tokyo later this month and his own governing body doesn’t even want anybody to know!

In any case, we’re thrilled for Curtis, who deserved to go in 2016 and deserved it even more this year.

I just hope someone lets him know he’s on the team before the plane leaves for Tokyo!

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