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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Best Undefeated Seasons?

ESPN's Page 2 has ranked its 40 best undefeated seasons in sports history, putting the Pele-led 1970 Brazilian World Cup champs at #1. These were teams only, no individuals.

I'm thinking about the greatest undefeated seasons in track history and seeing what I can put together. Off the top of my head, Carl Lewis in 1984 and Paavo Nurmi in 1923-24 belong near the top of the heap.

I can tell you who doesn't make the cut: Jesse Owens in 1936 (a post-Olympic loss to Ralph Metcalfe in the 100 nixes that), Emil Zatopek in 1952 (a pair of early-season thirds in 5k races takes him out), Michael Johnson in 1996 (lost his last pre-Olympic 200 to Frankie Fredericks), and Usain Bolt in 2008 (a 100m loss in Stockholm to Asafa Powell). For athletes who compete often and in multiple events, it's not easy.

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