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How Age Groups Are Determined

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

VRWC AGE

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 is mirrored on the old Little Athletics model and would, for instance, allow a walker to compete U12 in our various VRWC club championships throughout the year even though that walker will have turned 12 in the meanwhile.

CANBERRA CARNIVAL AGE

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

AGE ON THE WORLD SCENE

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

LITTLE ATHLETICS

Up till 2018, Australian Little Athleticcs mandated age categories as age at the start of the summer season, ie Age at 1st October. This is the model on which we based our VRWC age groupings, as explained above.

In early 2018, ALA changed the age group designations, a change to take effect from the start of the 2018/2019 year. Their new age group rule now reads:

Age groups shall be based on being under the specific age (with the exception of Tiny Tots) at 31 December in the calendar year in which the Little Athletics summer season commences. So for example, Under 12 means eleven years of age as at midnight on 31 December that year.

This now brings ALA into line with AV and AA.

IMPLICATIONS

The December 31st Age related Rule does have one major implication for some young athletes

  • 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.

Just to complicate things even further, VRWC and LAVic each has 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
24 July 2018