What is Age Grading?
Most individual sports have a way of providing a "handicap" to athletes of differing abilities. This is so that an average athlete can compete against a more well trained athlete and still have a chance of defeating them. The "handicap" is used to better the score of the weaker athlete. In Bowling for instance, a handicap is used to increase the number of pins knocked over. In Golf, a handicap is used to decrease the number of strokes.
In Track & Field, scoring is based on the time an athlete runs in a race, the height of a jump, or distance of a throw or jump. An athlete's performance typically improves during youth and declines during aging. Age Grading then is a type of "handicap" used in Track & Field that is based on the athlete's age.
There are two forms of Age Grading that are used. The first corrects an
athlete's performance (time, height or distance) to what it would have been (or
will be) in their prime years, regardless of the athlete's current age.
This effectively levels the playing field for all athletes, just as a
"handicap" is intended to do. The other form of Age Grading
provides the athlete with a percentage value of the world record for their age
and sex. Since the world record also degrades with age, the percentage can
be used over a number of years to compare an athlete's performance. The
percentage can also be used for comparing men and women equally. Typical
percentages are as follows:
Can you give an example of Age Grading and explain what it means?
Sure. Let's say a man of age 43 runs the 200 Meter Dash in 26.72 (FAT) seconds. His Age Graded time would be 24.83 seconds. This means that in his prime (typically 19 to 29 years old) he would have run a time of 24.83 seconds. This is arrived at by taking his actual time and multiplying by 0.9291 as recorded in the standard age grade tables. His Age Graded performance would be 79.5%. This means that his actual time is 79.5% of the world standard for his age. This is arrived at by taking the world standard for his age of 21.23 (as obtained from the standard age grade tables) and dividing by his actual time.
Another example is a woman of age 71 who runs the 200 Meter Dash in 37.48 (FAT) seconds. Her Age Graded time would be 26.53 seconds. This means that in her prime (typically 19 to 29 year old) she would have run a time of 26.53 seconds. This is arrived at by taking her actual time and multiplying by 0.7078. Her Age Graded performance would be 81.6%. This means that her actual time is 81.6% of the world standard for her age. This is arrived at by taking the world standard for her age of 30.57 and dividing by her actual time.
In the above two examples, if the man and woman had run in a head-to-head competition, the man would have won the race by nearly 11 seconds. This of course would not be a fair race because men are typically faster than women to start with, let alone their age difference that would make the man even that much faster. Using their age graded time, the man would still have easily won the race because even in their prime, men are faster than women. However, the woman is actually in better shape for her age than the man for this event. This can be seen by their percentages. The woman had 81.6% and the man had 79.5%. This means that the woman ran a better time for her age than the man did for his age.
Where do the Age Grade Tables come from?
The tables were researched and compiled by the World Association of Veteran Athletes (WAVA), the world governing body for Masters (Veterans) Track & Field, Long Distance Running and Racewalking. Age Grade tables exist for ages 8 through 100 for all major events.
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