DNS, DNF and more Olympics codes: What do the most common abbreviations mean?

Millions of viewers tuning into games need to take in a lot of event information

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Saturday 07 August 2021 08:29
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The world’s attention is firmly focused every four (or in Tokyo’s case five) years on the glory and drama generated by the Olympics.

But for the millions of viewers watching the drama and action unfold at home on their televisions, there can be a lot of abbreviations and codes to take in – particularly in the track and field events, which are now dominating the second and final full week of the games.

For instance, there are athletes who DNS, did not start their race, and who DNF, started but did not finish the event.

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An athlete with Q after their name has qualified from that heat and advanced to the next round of the competition, while “q” means that an athlete is not an automatic qualifier but has to wait to see if their time was quick enough to advance.

During a jump event, such as the long jump, triple jump, high jump or pole vault, an “X” means a foul or a miss.

In vertical events, such as the pole vault or high jump, the athlete gets three attempts to pass a given height, and if they fail are knocked out.

An “O” in a vertical event means that the athlete has passed a specific height and can move onto the next one.

The athletes in all of the events will hope that their years of training and preparation will lead to them peaking at exactly the right time in Tokyo.

There is a string of abbreviations related to those performances.

Competitors will hope to set their PB, or personal best, during the games, while an SB is used for the season best time or result, and WL for the world leading time that year or season.

A handful of athletes will perform at such a high level that they could set a new OR, or Olympic record, or even WR, a world record in legal conditions.

An athlete can also set a NR, or national record, and members of Team USA will also be taking aim at the AR, or American record in their sports.

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