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:
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.
WHO MAINTAINS AGE-GRADED TABLES
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