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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Who's the US Athlete of the Year?

Over at the T&FN message board, I posted the following question: Who is your current choice for U.S. Athlete of the Year? So far, it's been an ugly Games for U.S. stars, so that's a tough question.

There are obviously a lot of things that go into that choice, but to keep it simple let's identify Olympic Trials champs who medaled in Beijing and neither seriously underachieved while doing so nor lost to another American while winning said medal.

200m - Dix only got bronze due to a couple of DQs and lost to Crawford, too. Nope.
400m - Merritt runs tomorrow morning. I say whoever wins this is probably your AOY.
800m - If Symmonds wins a medal you'll hear the scream in Buffalo, but he's no Athlete of the Year.
5k - If Lagat wins gold, he may have the inside track.
Marathon - If Hall wins a medal, ditto for him. If he wins gold, maybe more so.
110H - If Oliver does the impossible and beats Robles then he's your top guy hands down. He might be anyway if he breaks the AR or comes reasonably close.
400H - None of the three medalists have had flawless seasons.
Decathlon - If Clay wins, and he's favored, it's down to him and the 400 guys. If he breaks any kind of record (American, Olympic, or World), he's it without a second thought.

200m - Felix runs tomorrow and I don't have a good feeling about this. But if she wins and then stars on the relays it would be difficult to pick anyone else.
400m - Richards bombed.
1500m - If Rowbury pulls a mild upset and wins, I say she deserves it.
5k/10k - Does a bronze medalist deserve the Athlete of the Year honors? Shalane Flanagan has already redefined what is possible for US distance runners, but I still can't see running a clear second fiddle to others as AOY material.
PV - Stuczynski, as of now, is probably my choice. She's set records and lost to no one except the current leading choice for World Athlete of the Year.
LJ - If Reese wins gold, she's got to be considered.
Heptathlon - Fountain's Olympic competition was a bit of a downer. Nope.

There you go -- a decathlete, 400 runners, a hurdler, and maybe a distance runner or two on the men's side; a pole vaulter and maybe a sprinter or jumper or miler on the women's.

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