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How Age Groups Are Determined


Age Group designation is particularly tricky for parents of younger walkers as there are so many different interpretations. Let's review.


This is your age at the start of our financial year which falls on 1st October. If your child is aged 11 at that time, then he/she remains an U12 walker from our perspective for the following year from 1st October through to 30th September.This follows the Little Athletics model whereby the walker may continue to compete U12 in our various VRWC club championships throughout the year even though that walker will have turned 12 in the meanwhile.


The Canberra carnival works on Age on the Day. Personally, I think this is the fairest way to run championships and Racewalking Australia uses this model where possible. The member clubs must verify age for their club members when they submit their entries.


Some years ago, the world governing body of athletics (the IAAF) promulgated that at World Junior (U20) and World Youth (U18) championships, all athletes must be under the age limit for the entire year. Thus World Junior championships are only open to athletes who do not turn 20 until the next year and World Youth Championships are only open to athletes who do not turn 18 until the next year. At the same time, they rewrote the U18 and U20 world records based on Age at 31 December of the Current Year.

Athletics Australia's decision to base age, ranking and record definitions on calendar years was not because of the above IAAF ruling but rather, to bring consistency to the operation of the sport nationally. At the time, the most significant area of teenage athletic activity was in schools, and the school system used the calendar year. AA saw sense in aligning itself with the school age groups because the two systems had the same client group, ie 12 to 19 year olds.

The State govening bodies (like AV) followed suite for consistency. Thus in any AV or AA competition, age is Age on 31st December of the Current Year


The varied Age related Rules do have implications for the sport of Athletics in Australia

  • Any athlete born in the second half of the year is permanently disadvantaged throughout his/her junior career compared to those born in the first half of the year. Anyone born on 31st December has a lot to be upset about! As my boys were all born in the last quarter of the year, they had to suffer this situation throughout their under age career.
  • Athletes often have the feeling that they are being forced to compete 'up an age group'. For instance, a walker born on 5th October and aged 12 on 1st October can compete in U13 in Little Athletics and VRWC races but come the Victorian Roadwalking championships in August of the following year, he has to compete in U16. Thus that walker is still classed as U13 in LA but is classed as U16 for the AV/AA roadwalk championships.

This can only be fixed at the National Level if Athletics Australia and the Australian Little Athletics Association can reach an understanding. In the past, attempts by the two organisations to move closer together have failed so we continue to live with the complications of different age group rules in different organisations.

Just to complicate things even further, VRWC and VLAA have a financial year that starts on 1st October but AV and the other AA member States have a financial year that starts on 1st April. This is another key area where some consensus is needed. You know the old saying – Life wasn't meant to be easy!

Tim Erickson