Step Up to Excellence Standards Programme

Compiled by Roman Olszewski

For Points Charts and Awards Certificates please see the links below:

These Certificates are for the year 2013. We encourage clubs to print these certificates, then drop in appropriate names and events. This can be easily done on most word processors, including Word. The Certificates make good recognition awards at year-end banquets and awards nights. We suggest you use a card stock or medium-weight paper.

A standards programme, by which athletes in our sport are able to gauge their progress and compare their performances in various track & field and road events, is not novel. In 1961 the Amateur Athletic Union, the sport governing body for athletics at the time, decided to design and implement the National Standards Plan (NSP).  The initial programme was for open class athletes and had only 4 levels of achievement for each event. Within a few years the scheme was expanded to include 6 levels for senior- and junior-aged athletes combined and 2 each for Youth, Midgets, Bantams and Peewees.

When the NSP had run its course around the late 60’s or early 70’s the Ontario Track & Field Association (Athletics Ontario) adopted its own programme, the Ontario Standards Plan. The OSP had 10 levels of achievement,  9 and 10 for seniors, 7 and 8 for juniors and so on to 1 and 2 for Bantams.  The 2 standards in each age group were set to approximately equate to the fifth- and tenth-best performances made by Ontario athletes in the previous year.  Athletes were allowed to claim badges for performances made in their age category or a higher one.  The clubs continued making use of the OSP in varying degrees until it was abandoned in late 80’s.

STEP UP! is different from the old plans in several significant ways.  Firstly, there are 10 levels or steps for each recognized AO age group.  The presence of more steps allows for smaller, more easily tackled increments as one progresses in the sport.  Secondly, the basis of the standards is the Canadian all-time open rankings (at least in the events where such data is available).  The old systems required that the standards be adjusted annually based on performances achieved during the previous year.  There was thus a reliance on the availability of accurate annual provincial rankings which were subject to some instability based on what events were hot and which were not at the time.

As noted above, the performance tables are based on Canadian all-time best open performances.  However, in order to construct tables for age class events and even some relatively new senior events, it was necessary to use a variety of methods as well as international and provincial performance data.  Data in some events was so scarce, that admittedly, a good deal of educated guessing was necessary! For those interested, a summary of the various methods and data used to construct the tables are available on request.  Comments and suggestions for improvement of the tables, particularly in some of the new events, are always welcome.

Because a concerted effort has been made to establish equivalent standards of performance from event to event and from age group to age group users are encouraged to use STEP UP! as a means of comparison.  For example, a Youth boy who runs an indoor 800m race in 2:01.5 achieves step 7; to maintain the same level (7) as a Junior, he must run 1:58.58.  A Bantam girl, to achieve this level of success must run 100m in 13.72 seconds, high jump a height of 1.50 metres or throw the discus 25.04 metres.  Comparisons of performances in different events must always be viewed as being in the Canadian (as opposed to the international) context.  Because Canadians have excelled to a greater extent internationally in certain events than in others the performances in those stronger events will have to be “better” to earn the same STEP UP! level of achievement.

Users of STEP UP! may notice that in moving from one step to the next the increments are the same.  This is unlike systems used in the construction of most scoring tables in existence.  Since the primary function of STEP UP! is to motivate beginning and developing athletes to achieve the next step it is important that the absolute amount of improvement at the lower (entry) levels be manageable.  More experienced athletes will tend to rely more heavily on other methods of motivation.

STEP UP! can be used in a variety of ways:

  • To assist athletes in gauging their progress in a single event as they move up in age categories
  • To assist athletes in comparing the performances from event to event
  • To provide clubs with a means of selecting athletes for annual awards  
  • To provide clubs with a means of determining travel subsidies or standards for going  to a particular competition
  • To provide meet directors of allcomers meets with a method of determining which athletes entered in horizontal jumps or throwing events should get the final three trials
  • To provide Athletics Ontario with a vehicle by which athletes can be recognized for their achievements
  • To provide a means by which progress in the sport as a whole in this province can be measured

The AO Board of Directors hopes that all clubs can use STEP UP! in some manner to help promote the sport and encourage their athletes to strive for success, in their own terms. 

How to Use these Tables

There are separate tables for each sex and age group.  Find the chart for the appropriate sex and age group.  Find the event on the left side of the table.  Read across the event line and fit the performance under one of the ten levels.  The performance achieved must be equal or superior to the standard given in order to qualify as being at that level.   For example, a time of 12.55s in the Bantam Boys 100m would be rated as a level 6 performance (standard = 12.67s) as opposed to a level 7 performance (standard = 12.53s).

Electronic timing is indicated by the presence of two decimal places in the times shown in the tables.  Hand times, denoted by “ht”, include times taken by stopwatches and printing timers, even if the times appear with two decimal places on the timing devices and/or results.  Any hand-timed performance with two decimal places must first be converted by rounding to the next slower 10th of a second.  For example, a hand time shown as 25.41s must be converted to 25.5s before being used to determine the level in the STEP UP! programme. Times provided by Pyro Video Timing, although not recognized by the IAAF as electronic performances, are deemed accurate enough by AO to be acceptable as electronic for purposes of this programme.  

In the short sprints and hurdles and the horizontal jumping events separate lines are provided for performances which were wind-assisted (“wa”), or for which wind readings were not taken or provided (“nwi”).  Performances in which the wind reading is over 2.0 metres per second in the positive (“+”) direction are considered to be wind-assisted.

Users of the hurdles, steeplechase, throws and combined events lines must be sure the specifications match up with those in the tables.  Specifications for standard AO Championship events are included in the “Specifications” section at the bottom of each chart.