The open-air athletics season starts this weekend, with four Belgians already assured of a slot in its flagship event, the 17th World Championships in Athletics, to be held in Doha from 27 September to 6 October. Nafissatou Thiam has already qualified from the heptathlon, Cynthia Bolingo for the 400 metres, and Koen Naert and Bashir Abdi for the marathon.
The first major meet for the year, the Stanford Invitational, is being held in California. Each year universities allow qualifying events to be held on their campuses, but the Belgians will be absent this time around because of the length of the 2019 season.
Athletes have until the 6th of September, date of the Brussels Van Damme Memorial, to qualify for Doha, with performances achieved from 7 March 2018 onward being taken into account. With their scores over the past year, the four Belgians have already qualified.
The minimum for the heptathlon, 6,300 points, was surpassed by Nafi Thiam with her 6,816 points at the European Championship in Berlin.
Koen Naert beat the time of 2 hrs 16 minutes (2:16:00) required for the Doha marathon at the Euro in Berlin, where he clocked 2:09:51; so did Bashir Abdi, with 2:10:46 at the Rotterdam marathon.
Cynthia Bolingo clipped 18 seconds off the qualifying time for the 400 metres (51.80 secs) at the finals of the European Indoor Championships in Glasgow, with a time of 51.62 secs.
Doha is the last world championship at which qualification will depend only on minimum times. For the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, in addition to the minimum standards, tougher than Doha’s, the athletes’ rankings in their respective events will also be taken into consideration.
Later, only their world ratings based on performances achieved earlier in the year will be used, in principle, to qualify the athletes.