What is WMA Age Grading?

World Master Athletics (WMA) Age Grading

WMA Age Grading is a method of comparing the performances of different aged athletes. The WMA Age-Graded Tables theoretically allow athletes’ performances to be corrected to what they would be able to achieve in their prime age.  The Age-Graded Tables also allow athletes to compare their performances as a percentage of world record standards at each age. 


Age Grade Calculator


The World Association of Veteran Athletes (WAVA) was founded in Sweden in 1977.  A WAVA committee compiled a series of age factors and age standards for grading athletic performance based on sex and age.  In 1989 the first official age-graded tables were published by National Masters News in a booklet entitled Masters Age-Graded Tables.  These original tables were used to compare performances of athletes age 30 or above to performances of “Open Class” athletes (20-29 years old).  The Masters Age-Graded Tables covered all standard track and field events as well as standard long distance running and race-walking events.  WAVA later changed its name to World Masters Athletics (WMA).     
The tables were updated and extended in 1994 to ages 8 through 19 in a new publication by National Masters News entitled Age-Graded Tables.
The WMA Age Graded Tables have most recently been updated in 2006.  This version of the tables includes factors for a range of ages from 5 years to 100 years old.  The factors are based on the world’s best performances at each age and compared to Open Class world records in those events.  
Example Results:
A 53 year old man runs a 5K race in 23:10.  From the Male Age-Graded Tables for 5K road racing, the factor for men 53 years old is 0.8536. 
Multiply 23:10 by 0.8536 to get 19:47.   (Note: Convert to seconds, multiply by the WMA factor, then convert back to MM:SS)
This man’s Age Graded time for 5K is 19:47.
The world record for 5K is 12:37.  
In comparing this time to the world record:
12:37 / 19:47 X 100% = 63.8% 
This man’s Age Graded performance is 63.8% of the world standard for this distance.
Relative Standard Indicator:
        >100% = World record level
        > 90% = World class
        > 80% = National class 
        > 70% = Regional class
Male and Female performances can be compared using the percentage of their respective world standards.
The WMA Age-Graded Tables are not without some controversy.  For example, youth age-factors for both males and females are dominated by African and Chinese runners.  Some have questioned the age veracity of some of these elite young athletes.  
On rare occasion in some events, a young or an old athlete may perform at a level that the tables would indicate is impossible.  However, this is not so much the case in distance running, especially in distances from 5K to 15K.  
Conversely, there are occasions when the world’s best young or old athletes are unable to perform at the levels expected by the tables.  
Despite such anomalies in the data, and after several years of tweaking, the WMA Age-Graded Tables are generally considered the world’s standard for age factors relating athletic performance.