Ten days until the men’s handball World Championships! That’s the first of many events that will feed into the 2016 medal projections this year. By the end of the year, I’ll have every Rio event projected. Even SuperBacteria Sailing.
Wikipedia rounds up nearly everything that matters in 2015, but I’ll focus here on medal projection events, mostly World Championships.
Jan. 15-Feb. 1: Men’s handball Worlds, Qatar. Winner qualifies for Olympics.
Feb. 18-22: Track cycling Worlds, Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines. Olympic qualifying is based on rankings.
April 14-19: Equestrian dressage and jumping World Cup finals, Las Vegas. The World Equestrian Games are in even non-Olympic years. The other Olympic discipline, eventing, has World Cup events from March to October. Wikipedia sums up Olympic qualifying quite well and links to the official documents.
April 26-May 3: Table tennis Worlds, Suzhou, China. Little effect on Olympic qualifying, which is done through continental tournaments and rankings.
May 16-17: Rugby (men’s) Sevens Series final, London. Top four in final standings qualify for Olympics.
May 23-24: Rugby Women’s Sevens Series final, Amsterdam. Top four in final standings … you get the idea.
May 30-June 20: Soccer, men’s U20 World Cup, New Zealand. The closest analogue to an Olympic men’s soccer (U23 plus some overage players) event this year. Olympic qualification is in 2016.
* June 6-July 5: Soccer, Women’s World Cup, Canada. For European teams, this is also this Olympic qualifier, as absurd as that is. North American qualification will be in 2016.
June 8-14: Sailing, World Cup final, Weymouth and Portland, England. Sailing has Worlds in non-Olympic even years, though some classes also have Worlds in odd years. Got it? I’m just linking to Wikipedia for the Olympic qualification summary, which is more up-to-date and coherent than the official version.
June 26-July 5: Beach volleyball Worlds, Netherlands. The FIVB also has four “majors” in June through August and five “Grand Slams” in May through August. That’s not confusing at all. World champions earn Olympic quotas; most of the other spots are filled by rankings.
June 28-July 28: Modern pentathlon Worlds, Berlin. Three Olympic quota spots per gender available. World Cup final, which offers one spot per gender, is two weeks earlier. They’ll also give three more per gender at the 2016 Worlds.
July 13-19: Fencing Worlds, Moscow. The Grand Prix runs through May 31. Olympic qualification is mostly rankings.
July 21-25: BMX Worlds, Heusden-Zolder, Germany. Also World Cup events in April, May, August and September (2). Olympic qualification is almost solely based on rankings.
* July 24-Aug. 9: Aquatic Worlds (swimming, diving, water polo, synchro, open water), Kazan, Russia. Diving also has a World Series and a Grand Prix leading up to an October finale. The water polo World League finals will be in June and July. FINA kindly wraps up all its Olympic qualifying info on one hub page. Quota spots at stake here: Swimming relays, open water, diving, water polo. Not individual swimming races (based on qualifying times) or synchronized swimming (continental qualifiers).
July 26-Aug. 2: Archery Worlds, Copenhagen, Denmark. Olympic quotas at stake. World Cups are scattered May through October in addition to an indoor season that wraps Feb. 6-7 in Las Vegas.
Aug. 6-16: Shooting, World Cup, Gabala, Azerbaijan. This is the last stop of the year in which Olympic quotas are at stake. Except in shotgun (see Sept. 9-18).
Aug. 10-16: Badminton Worlds, Jakarta, Indonesia. Other events go year-round. Olympic quotas based on world ranking May 5, 2016.
Aug. 19-23: Canoe sprint Worlds, Milan, Italy. Many Olympic quota spots at stake. Also three World Cup events in May.
* Aug. 22-30: Track and field Worlds, Beijing. The Diamond League runs May 15 through July 30, then resumes after Worlds with final events Sept. 3 and 11. Olympic qualification is based mostly on times.
Aug. 22-Sept. 6: Women’s volleyball World Cup, Japan. The World Championship was last year, and the World Grand Prix will wrap earlier in the summer. This one has a couple of Olympic spots available.
Aug. 24-30: Judo Worlds, Astana, Kazakhstan. Olympic qualification is driven by rankings, so watch Grand Slam (ouch!) and Grand Prix events through the year.
Aug. 30-Sept. 6: Rowing Worlds, Lac d’Aiguebelette, France. This is the main Olympic quota qualifier.
Aug. 31-Sept. 6: Mountain bike Worlds, Vallnord, Andorra. World Cup final is a week earlier. Olympic qualification based mostly on rankings.
Sept. 7-13: Rhythmic gymnastics Worlds, Stuttgart, Germany. Many Olympic quotas at stake.
* Sept. 7-13: Wrestling Worlds, Las Vegas. Winners get Olympic quotas.
Sept. 8-23: Men’s volleyball World Cup, Japan. The World Championship was last year, and the World League will wrap earlier in the summer. This one has a couple of Olympic spots available.
Sept. 9-18: Shooting, World Shotgun Championship, Lonato, Italy. Yes, Olympic quotas are at stake.
Sept. 15-20: Canoe slalom Worlds, London. This is the big Olympic qualifier. World Cups run June through August.
Sept. 15-20: Triathlon World Series final, Chicago. Last of a 10-race series in addition to several World Cup races. Many Olympic quota spots are based on rankings, but there are a few other events that give automatic spots. Not this one, though.
Sept. 16-23: Taekwondo World Championships, Chelyabinsk, Russia. Olympic quotas based mostly on ranking.
Sept. 19-27: Road cycling Worlds, Richmond, Va. (!!) Overshadowed by the Tour de France and sometimes lost in the very busy cycling calendar, but the time trials have Olympic quota spots up for grabs.
Oct. 5-18: Men’s boxing Worlds, Qatar. Women’s Worlds were held in November 2014. Will add links when AIBA’s website comes back up. The men’s event has a handful of Olympic quotas at stake.
* Oct. 24-Nov. 2: Gymnastics Worlds, Glasgow. Many Olympic quotas at stake. Gymnastics has a few other competitions through the year, but not always with great pools of talent.
Nov. 20-29: Weightlifting Worlds, Houston. Olympic quotas at stake.
Nov. 28-Dec. 6: Field hockey men’s World League final, Mohali, India. Olympic qualifying spots at stake. Field hockey also has a World Cup in non-Olympic even years.
Nov. 25-28: Trampoline Worlds, Odense, Denmark. Will fill roughly half of the Olympic quotas.
Dec. 5-13: Field hockey women’s World League finals, Rosario, Argentina. Olympic qualifying spots at stake. Field hockey also has a World Cup in non-Olympic even years.
Dec. 5-20: Women’s handball Worlds, Denmark. Winner qualifies for Olympics.
No World Championships or definitive international competition this year: Basketball (men’s World Cup and women’s World Championship in 2014).
Golf and tennis qualification is based on rankings, and you won’t need me to tell you when the majors pop up.
Important events and Olympic qualifiers in the Americas …
July 10-26: Pan Am Games, Toronto. A few sports use this for Olympic qualification, including canoe/kayak, diving, equestrian, field hockey, handball, shooting, table tennis, water polo.
2016 or tba: Continental or last-chance qualifiers in archery, beach volleyball, boxing, canoe/kayak (only for countries with no qualifiers), diving, fencing, gymnastics, handball, modern pentathlon, mountain bike, rowing, rugby, soccer, synchronized swimming. table tennis, triathlon, water polo, volleyball, weightlifting, wrestling.
And for winter sports folks …
Jan. 15-25: Snowboarding and freestyle skiing Worlds, Kreischberg, Austria. It’s like the FIS answer to the X Games! And unfortunately, it’s scheduled at the same time …
Jan. 22-25: Winter X Games, Aspen. Looks like they’ll have most of the top athletes except perhaps in one or two events.
Feb. 2-15: Alpine skiing Worlds, Vail/Beaver Creek, Colo.
Feb. 12-15: Speedskating Worlds (single-distance), Heerenveen, Netherlands. The sprint championships are Feb. 28-March 1 (Astana, Kazakhstan), allrounds are March 7-8 (Calgary).
Feb. 14-15: Luge Worlds, Sigulda, Latvia.
Feb. 18-March 1: Nordic skiing Worlds (including ski jumping and combined), Falun, Sweden.
Feb. 23-March 8: Bobsled/skeleton Worlds, Winterberg, Germany.
March 3-15: Biathlon Worlds, Kontiolahti, Finland.
March 13-15: Short-track speedskating Worlds, Moscow.
March 14-22: Women’s curling Worlds, Sapporo, Japan. Interesting test for the USA’s revamped High Performance program.
March 23-29: Figure skating Worlds, Shanghai.
March 28-April 4: Women’s hockey Worlds, Malmo, Sweden. USA’s turn at last? Will anyone other than the USA and Canada take gold or silver?
March 28-April 5: Men’s curling Worlds, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Another interesting test for the USA’s revamped High Performance program.
May 1-17: Men’s hockey Worlds, Czech Republic. (As always, conveniently scheduled while many of the world’s best players are busy with the Stanley Cup playoffs.)
And other stuff you should know about this year:
Jan. 31-Feb. 1: Cyclocross Worlds, Tabor, Czech Republic. Not an Olympic event but should be. In Katie Compton we trust.
Feb. 14-March 29: Cricket (men’s) World Cup, Australia/New Zealand.
July 4-18??: American football Worlds. Moving from Sweden to Canton, Ohio. Not sure if they’ll keep those dates.
Sept. 18-Oct. 31: Rugby (men’s) World Cup, England.