It’s time to start looking back on what turned out to be a pretty awesome season. I figure the best place to start reviewing is with the top performances, since that will certainly lead into discussion about the top athletes.
This year there was no dearth of outstanding performances, even more than usual in an Olympic year. We can start with the fact that there were five WR’s this year – three individual and two relays – as an indication of just how good the performances were in 2012.
I separate them out as individual and relay, because the relays sort of skew the conversation a bit since they are the result of combined effort. Suffice it to say that the marks in the relays – 40.82 (US women 4×1) & 36.84 (Jamaica men 4×1) – were both outstanding and special as they were barrier breakers. The US women’s mark taking down an iconic figure that had stood since 1985! Destroying it by such a margin as to threaten to become Beamoneque in its own right.
Typically however, discussion of the year’s top performances centers around individual efforts – which still leaves us with three WR’s and some outstanding "high end" marks. Ashton Eaton started off the year’s record breaking at the Trials with his superb 9031 in the decathlon. He became only the second man to score over 9000 points.
The Olympics lived up to its billing with three WR’s. The two 4×1 records, and David Rudisha’s barrier breaking 1:40.91 800. Never has anyone made running a half mile look SO easy as Rudisha did in London. The fact that he did so while a) leading from start to finish and b) running under 1:41 made it that much more incredible.
Then there was the most recent record, Aries Merritt’s sensational 12.80 in Brussels. Everything about this run is fresh in everyone’s mind, so I won’t repeat it all again. Simply put it was the most incredible hurdle race in history.
While it’s difficult to top a WR as the performance of the year, there were some efforts that were as close to that level as one can get. The best of these may have been Usain Bolt’s 9.63 100 in London – second only to his WR from Berlin. And right in that mold, Paul Koech ran the #3 time ever in the steeplechase when he crossed the line in Rome at 7:54.31. In any other year these two performances would certainly be getting rave reviews in this conversation.
As would Jessica Ennis who became the #5 heptathlete of all time with her 6955 win in London. In the process she came very close to the 7000 point barrier – a feat accomplished by only 3 women in history.
In that vein, Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce’s 10.70 run at her Trials moved her to #4 all time and just missed the 10.6x zone – territory only exceeded once. When Allyson Felix sped 21.69 at Trials she became #4 all time in the 200. Given that #1 & #2 on both lists are FloJo and Marion Jones, both Felix’ and Pryce’s marks may be worth being higher on the lists.
Another late season mark that bears mentioning is Bjorn Otto’s 6.01m/19′ 9.5" vault just a few days ago that moved him to =#7 all time. Number 7, doesn’t sound like a big deal, but surpassing the 6 meter mark is. And speaking of barriers and vertical jumps, Barshim Mutaz moved to = 8th all time when he soared 2.39m/7′ 10" – just missing that 2.40m threshold. Both men breathed some ratified air this year.
These are what I think were the best marks of the year. I’m sure you’ll let me know if you think I missed something. Check out the poll and weigh in on which mark you think was best.Meanwhile I think the names above will serve as a good starting point to discuss the top athletes on the year. Now THAT will be a discussion.