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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Sexual Discrimination in the VAL Handicapping system

Sexual Discrimination in the VAL Handicapping system

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I believe the Victorian Athletic League has introduced one of the most bizarre concepts to be introduced into professional running.

Many years ago the now defunct Botany Bay Gift had a situation where the main event had a limit of about 5m for men and 15m for women. It made the race a farce and for purists of the sport it stripped the race of any credibility. Despite the whopping prize money on offer, Botany Bay is not a race that conjures up the same prestige as Stawell, the Bay Sheffield, Burnie or Maryborough.

Recently the VAL passed a rule that allows women to run off a mark of up to 50% of the normal limit for Classic and Group One Gifts such as Stawell, Maryborough, Ballarat, Keilor, Burramine and Bendigo.

Basically if you are female then you can run off 18m in say a Keilor or Ballarat Gift - but if you are a male of comparable speed, your limit is 12m. That alone is sexual discrimination that would be on shaky ground if ever challenged in the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

I believe the idea behind it is to attract an elite athlete, the international calibre of Melissa Breen or Sally Pearson to enter a major Gift. Perhaps there's some merit in the concept IF it was restricted to athletes of that ilk. But invariably it won't. Firstly it is unlikely the lifting of the limit, alone, would entice an international athlete. And secondly the meetings that its designed for are at a time when our elite level athletes would have other commitments.

Sally Pearson is not going to run at any of these carnivals unless the appearance money is substantial. Fair enough too given her extraordinary achievements. After suffering an injury at Gippsland last year it's even less likely we'll see Sally anywhere other than maybe Stawell - the only meet that can realistically afford her.

As for Melissa Breen - Maryborough clashes with the Tassie carnivals in particular Burnie and the Beckenham stable is well supported by SCAT (Organisation behind the Tassie Christmas Carnivals) so one would expect Melissa to compete in Tassie.

The next four other major carnivals - Ballarat, Keilor, Bendigo & Burramine are all around the time of critical AA grand prix meets and one would expect an elite level athlete of Melissa's standing would have standing commitments to the AA series.

And if by chance Olympic silver medallist Carmelita Jeter (PB:10.64) entered a Classic Gift, it's unlikely she would be allocated a mark beyond 12.0m - most likely somewhere closer to the novice mark. A world class female athlete is capable of being very competitive in a Classic Gift off a mark of 12m, so it is futile to arbitrarily lift a limit that wouldn't be required.

So in the end - the only female athletes likely to avail themselves of the increased limit will be regular VAL competitors and maybe one or two good national level athletes who won't make one iota of difference to the crowd numbers or publicity for the meets.

One of the cornerstones or pillars in which our sport prides itself on is the tradition of the feature events. To win a Classic Gift in Victoria, you must be a of reasonable quality. The 12m limit (10m for Stawell) ensures that. These Gifts, that all have histories beyond 60 years have stood the test of time because of the traditions of the past. Thy do not need gimmicks.

"Let's Go While We're Young"


If an elite female athlete enters she will be handicapped on the same formula as a male athlete. So Jetta would not be around the novice mark but would much more likely receive a handicap of 5m for a classic such as the Stawell Gift and maybe 3-4m for any other race.

If you are a male and you can't win off a mark of 12m than in my opinion you do not deserve to win a gift. Yes Pro Running is about giving everyone a good chance but you should have to have at least a bit of talent to take home the biscuit.

The girls on marks of 18m etc will be young juniors or girls who have not broken 12 seconds, in which case putting them on that mark is fair as they are most likely still not going to win the big meets, and if they do win it will not be by a large margin. For stawell though I think it should be kept to maybe 25% extra at an absolute maximum, don't care what you say, No one wants to see some girl who has run dead for a couple years win the Stawell Gift off 16.5m

Hopefully if the system is implemented it is used fairly and girls just aren't all thrown out to massive marks, they should be handicapped to be in the race but not to be in with a huge chance to win. They have Womens Gifts for a reason.

Also something the handicappers will need to do is not use the Womens 120m times to calculate their Open handicap, obviously an athlete will gain more than a 10m bonus if moved from 5m to 15m as they will be running that extra 10m a fair amount slower than their average RPM.


Agree SpeedyDude, they've got women's Gifts for a reason.
I don't care what gender a person is, no athlete should win a CLASSIC or GROUP ONE Gift off more than the traditional limit. WTF????? Special limits for chicks????? Next will be another limit for AWD athletes???????? Where does it stop???????
Rolling Eyes


Great idea. PGA should introduce it to golf. Top male golfers would love to compete with Karrie Webb and Yani Tseng with the ladies playing off the ladies tees in the majors.
Only kidding!

One limit for all.

5 sexual discrimination on Wed Sep 12, 2012 12:51 pm


there is already sexual discrimination demipro athletics

men are not allowed to compete in female events ????????????

the more that this sport is oriented toward women competing against men

instead of own sex the more that you will see a steady decline in
overall quality of competition which young male wants to be left behind

in shadows of sister or mother or pre tell the missus

time for a new classification emasculated athletes, that will leave ladies out .why dont val have a survey regarding do men want to compete against women not do women want to compete against men

sorry enough ranting for one day


Happy to compete against either gender - as long as all are handicapped based on results/performances


TeamT wrote:Happy to compete against either gender - as long as all are handicapped based on results/performances

I'm happy to compete against anyone in a classic gift as long as the limit is appropriate for a classic and is the same for everyone.

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