Chilean Marathoner Qualifies for Paris 2024 After Criticising World Athletics and Rule Changes.

After weeks of uncertainty and heavy criticism of World Athletics (WA) changed ranking system, Hugo Catrileo is celebrating his qualification for Paris 2024 following a new update to the world rankings. However, he warns that "the WA must organise its rules to give athletes peace of mind and be clearer for Los Angeles 2028".

There is good news for Team Chile and in particular for Hugo Catrileo, the brilliant marathoner who won the silver medal at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games and who was excluded a few weeks ago following changes to the post-competition ranking system.

The marathoner had reported that, although he was on the list of qualifiers according to the strict rankings, WA had made a decision that favoured the universality criteria over the world rankings, which excluded him (although he was among the qualifiers).

At the end of the qualifying period set by WA, the Chilean athlete was within the rankings, having finished in the required position. However, a last-minute change deprived the Chilean athlete of the opportunity to compete in Paris 2024.

The conflict arose because 70 athletes were classified to meet the minimum standard, and then 11 more were added based on universality criteria rather than ranking, as the Chilean explained in an exclusive interview with Inside The Games in mid-May.

As a result, Catrileo dropped from 71st to 82nd in the rankings and missed out on the Olympic chance he had rightfully earned according to the pre-established rules.

Hugo Catrileo crosses the finish line in the second place during the Marathon at the streets of Santiago2023 Pan Am Games on October 2023. GETTY IMAGES
Hugo Catrileo crosses the finish line in the second place during the Marathon at the streets of Santiago2023 Pan Am Games on October 2023. GETTY IMAGES

Uncertainty, anger, frustration and complaints on social media and in the media occupied the Chilean athlete's time as he continued his preparations in Mexico and had to come to terms with the injustice of being left out despite his achievements on the track.

Time passed, and the criticism - not only from him, but from other affected athletes - grew. In this interview with us, he made no bones about who was responsible, pointing the finger directly at the WA: "The responsibility lies with the WA; they made the rules and they have to take responsibility. This has not just happened to me, it has happened to American, Australian and South African athletes. It is a global problem".

WA took notice and changed the system again. This time with an official letter from WA confirming the long-awaited news: he was one of the 85 qualifiers for the 33rd Olympic Games of the modern era.

When asked by Inside The Games what those days were like, the Chilean was clear: "The first few days were difficult; it was very hard to deal with the news. I knew there was still a chance to be in Paris, but with a lot of uncertainty. I set myself the goal of running in Chicago so that I could continue training with a clear objective and not lose my competitiveness."

The reason why the Puerto Saavedra native will be in Paris and was not before is not a sporting one, but a political one from the federation. Five more places have been added to the ranking. From 80 to 85, so that those affected by WA's unilateral decision are no longer affected.

Despite the strange situation for an elite international federation like WA, the news was celebrated by Catrileo and four other athletes who qualified for Paris 2024 in the same way and will compete on 10 August.

"Everything is in order now, my ranking is valid and I am back in Paris. Now with an official letter from the WA, with the certainty that I will be there," the 27-year-old Chilean from Araucanía told this media outlet today.

His preparations for Paris 2024 have had to change once again, which logically means physical, mental and financial strain. But the joy of being one of the 26 Chileans (so far) present at the Olympic Games prevails.

"My preparation changes again and I return to Chile. I am leaving Europe as planned after being left out. I have to compete in Chicago and return to my country to train for three weeks before returning to Mexico at the beginning of July for the final altitude camp before flying directly to Europe," he told this journalist in an exclusive interview.

Despite his happiness at achieving his goal of reaching Paris and seeing justice done in his case, Hugo Catrileo was clear and forceful about the WA's ranking system: "In the future they have to organise the rules, clarify their ideas about the classification system. They must give the athletes the certainty that if they meet certain requirements, they will not have to go through these bad moments."

"I hope that everything will be clearer for Los Angeles 2028 so that we can all move forward. We need to think about a better and clearer pre-Olympic system," he warned in a new exclusive interview with the Inside The Games team.