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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

How the Rankings Work

In response to a comment earlier today, I need to explain a bit about how my World Rankings work.

An athlete's rankings points reflects the sum of his ten best results of the year. (At this early season time, nobody has ten results yet.) Those points are earned from placing well (with an emphasis on actually winning) at major meets, or running fast times, or any combination thereof. Two different "best results" could come from one race; one for place, and one for time.

Points-for-place: Golden League and Super GP meets score 20-15-12-10-8-6-4-2. Points available are doubled at the World Final and tripled at the World Championships. Grand Prix meets score 10-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 and IAAF Permit meets (be they outdoor, indoor or cross country) score 6-4-3-2-1, and smaller meets score 5-3-2-1. Other meets, such as national or NCAA championships, score on whatever of these levels is most appropriate.

Points for fast times: In the sprints, all times are corrected for wind and altitude using Jonas Mureika's online widget. Points available range from 1 to 50. In the men's 100, 9.58 is a 50-point effort and 10.17 is a 1-point effort (Bolt's world record is worth 41 points).

Up to two of those ten best results can be times from different events. The reason I allow this is that good times at similar but different events do have meaning.

So my current top five in the men's 100 meters, and where their points come from:

1. Dwain Chambers (41 points)
6.42 (60m), 23 pts
6.46 (60m), 18 pts

2. Daniel Bailey (28 points)
10.04 (adjusted from 9.93, wind 2.3), 12 pts
6.54 (60m) twice, each 8 pts

3. Jacoby Ford (23 points)
6.51 (60m), 12 pts
6.52 (60m), 11 pts

4. Walter Dix (21 pts)
9.93 (adjusted from 10.00, wind -1.1), 21 pts

4. Ivory Williams (21 pts)
6.52 (60m), 11 pts
6.53 (60m), 10 pts

None of these top runners have competed in the World Athletics Tour yet and so none have any points-for-place.

Chambers ranks #1 because his indoor campaign was so impressive--but without some outdoor running to back it up it won't last very long. For example, if Jacoby Ford runs 9.96 he'll overtake the top ranking.

Like I said at the outset, these are early and are less than fully meaningful. If I were doing this for any official agency, I wouldn't release rankings for outdoor-specific events until May.

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