A rebuttal: Dylan Wykes should not go to London (unless he runs the standard)

There are a couple good links out there right now, discussing two sides of what one might call “professional” track and field. First, a video that speaks for itself from SpeedEndurance.com. Kris Mychasiw, previously named here as one of the most influential people in track and field, speaks the cold, hard truth about what it takes to really make it. Have a watch of this video to see what the real world of professional track and field is all about.

On the other hand, we have Brandon Laan from Runner’s Feed, who makes a case that Dylan Wykes should be included in Canada’s delegation to London, at the highest level of our sport, the Olympic Games. The contrast between the two links is striking.

My thoughts on Laan’s article: no dice. He lists 10 reasons why Wykes should be allowed to go. They are not strong reasons. My responses are below, marked (JL).

“Top 10 Reasons Wykes Should Be Sent to London

1. He has run 2:12 twice in the past 15 months (two B standards?)

(JL) Actually, those would be Olympic A standards. There are no Canadian B standards for the Marathon. Technically this is the best argument, except for the fact that Canada has it’s own standards.

2. He finished 3rd at The FAKE Canadian Marathon Olympic Trials crossing the finish line in a respectable 2:12:56, which anyone who was in attendance on that day knew was worth 2:11:29 due to the wind.

(JL)Two other guys made the standard in that weather. Not an excuse, and I’m not sure why he calls it a “fake” trials.

3. 2:12:39 would have put him 11th place  at the 2008 Beijing Olympics (directly behind American superstar Ryan Hall)

(JL)Olympic marathon times are usually much slower than the big city marathons in which competitors make their times. It’s not a relevant comparison.

4. There is no rising star standard for the Marathon. If there is one event that should have a rising star component, it is the marathon. Meb, the winner of the U.S. Olympic Trials is almost 10 years older than Wykes. I realize Wykes has represented Canada at a major championship but Wykes could arguably continue improving for the next 10 years.

(JL) He doesn’t qualify for rising star as he has already been to a world championships. That’s what a rising star is.

5. He ranks Top 10 All-Time in Canada for the 10,000m and Marathon

(JL) Canada is pretty weak internationally in those events. Not relevant.

6. His 1:02:14 half marathon is worth 2:11:15 – 14 seconds under the Marathon Standard.

(JL) There is no comparison to the marathon. You can’t qualify for the 1500m with an 800m time, why would you be able to qualify for the marathon with a half marathon time?

7. Wykes is 4 years younger than Reid Coolsaet and 3 years younger than Eric Gillis.

(JL) All the more reason for him to be excited to go for it in 2016. Why does this mean he should go this year? If anything, this should indicate to us that the extra years of prep have served the two Speed River athletes well, and that if Dylan Wykes is running 2:12 now, he’s a good bet to run faster in another four years.

8. Eric Gillis went to the Olympics for the 10,000m in 2008 with a 28:07 as a rising star – Wykes has run 28:12

(JL) Again, no rising star in the marathon, and performances in other distances aren’t relevant.

9. Who cares how fast he can run the marathon? To finish in the top 10 at the Olympics requires the ability to compete, not necessarily run fast. Wykes can do this.

(JL) Point 3 suggested that time was very relevant, but now it is all about racing? Pick a side.

10. The Olympic Marathon standard is 2:15 – NOT the Athletics Canada imposed 2:11:29 – is it a matter of time before some of our athletes find another country to represent?

(JL) So Wykes should go to the Olympics so we don’t “lose” our top marathoners to another country? I think this one is just absurd.

The bottom line, and what we can learn from Kris’s video, is that if you want to make it to the big leagues, there is only one way: run the times. Complaining about the rules will only get you so far. And that is not to say Wykes is complaining. In a comment on this very blog, he said himself he had “no fantasies of being selected for London 2012 based on that performance.

We have two men going to the Olympics in the marathon for the first time since 1996 when Peter Fonseca and Carey Nelson ran. This is progress. I’ve said this elsewhere and I’ll say it again, we should be more concerned, not that we didn’t send three men, but that we are not sending any women (yet, but the window is closing).