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Friday, December 21, 2007

Track & Field News annual awards

T&FN has finally gotten the idea of the internet. GH and the gang used to be afraid their mag would be scooped by the newfangled series of tubes. This year they're instead using it to pimp the 61st annual Annual Issue. Yesterday they announced Athlete of the Year top tens (Tyson Gay & Meseret Defar took the top honorses); today they did U.S. Athlete of the year top tens (Gay & Allyson Felix); Sunday they'll do #1-ranked athletes in each event, and Monday they'll to event-by-event top tens. The real fans will want the annual issue in print for all the nitty-gritty details and explanations, and others won't care enough to pick it up anyway. But now they at least called some attention to themselves and built anticipation.

The only award T&FN isn't putting on the web is the Performances of the Year. It's not an award they do much with; you won't see a summary of past year's leaders on their website and I can't recall ever seeing it in the mag. But I gots to have me historical data. So I took a trip down to the university library and I think I've got a complete listing of annual men's POY rankings (five deep) compiled in this Google spreadsheet.

Some background info is in order. T&FN first picked a POY in 1959 (the year they began the AOY honors). The first year I know of anything beyond first place was 1966, when they also picked some honorable mentions. The practice was discontinued after a few years, but starting in 1973 the voting results have been published in each Annual Issue.

Some trivia: Scoring on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis, leaders are Sergey Bubka (23), Carl Lewis (19.5), Edwin Moses (18.5), Haile Gebrselassie (18.33 plus any earned this year), and Michael Johnson (14). . .The Greatest of All Time, Lewis, never had a POY winner. . .No one has ever had three POY winners; only Bubka, Johnson, Said Aouita, Jim Ryun and Liu Xiang have had more than one. . .The highest-scoring event is the 10k (49 5/6 pts), the lowest is the 20k walk (1/2 pt).

I've only compiled the men's rankings. This is due to sexism, but not on my part. T&FN didn't start doing an Annual Issue for women until 1980. Prior to that the job was done by Women's Track & Field World magazine (which finally folded that year), and back in the 50's and early 60's rankings were published privately by Czech statman Jan Popper. If you think finding a library with early holdings of T&FN is difficult, WT&FW is harder on an order of magnitude. Compiling such errata for women is an ongoing project.

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