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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Athletes of the Year, Women

Yesterday I posted my points-based rankings for men’s Athlete of the Year. Here are the top 20 women.

1. Nadzeya Ostapchuk (BLR/Shot) 383
2. Jessica Ennis (GBR/Heptathlon) 345
3. Allyson Felix (USA/Sprints) 341
4. Blanka Vlašic (CRO/HJ) 336
5. Betty Heidler (GER/Hammer) 325
6. Vivian Cheruyiot (KEN/Distance) 305
7. Valerie Vili (NZL/Shot) 304
8. Milcah Chemos (KEN/Steeple) 301
9. Fabiana Murer (BRA/PV) 298
10. Anita Wlodarczyk (POL/Hammer) 293
11. Carmelita Jeter (USA/Sprints) 291
12. Tatyana Lysenko (RUS/Hammer) 290
13. Yarelis Barrios (CUB/Discus) 289
14. Yuliya Zarudneva (RUS/Steeple) 287
15. Olga Rypakova (KAZ/TJ) 286
16. Kaliese Spencer (JAM/400H) 285
17. Veronica Campbell-Brown (JAM/Sprints) 283
18. Mary Keitany (KEN/Distance) 278
19. Yargeris Savigne (CUB/LJ-TJ) 274
20. Priscilla Lopes-Schliep (CAN/100H) 273

I’ve thought all year long that Ostapchuk was a no-brainer for Athlete of the Year. But as a shot-putter I fear she’ll be overlooked.

First off, the shot gets ignored just because it isn’t one of the “glamour events”. In all the years Track and Field News has done Athlete of the Year awards, shot putters have won it just once each for men and women.

But Ostapchuk is also handcuffed by history. Her marks don't appear all that great, but they are.  She didn’t remotely approach the shot world record and hit just #9 on the all-time list. You’ve got to remember, though, she throws under completely different rules than the top putters did. They competed in the 1970s and 80s, when enforcement of anti-doping rules was markedly different than it is now. I’m not saying that no one uses PEDs anymore, I’m just saying they can’t use the best ones. (The only other post-80s putter in the all-time top ten, Vita Pavlysh, is banned for life.)

Ostapchuk’s best mark of the year, 21.70 meters, is oddly out of line with her other marks, a good 75 cm further than her next-best meet. Done indoors and in Belarus, I’m a bit suspicious of its authenticity. But if you delete that mark, she’s still the top athlete in my accounting.

Ennis will probably drop down to 330 points and 4th place after this week’s Decastar meet in Talence, leaving Allyson Felix at #2. She’s the athlete most likely to be selected as AOY ahead of Ostapchuk. But she suffered losses, and her marks were less than impressive. In the 200 she ran slower than a typical world-leading mark of the last decade, and in the 400 she didn’t even hit a typical top-ten mark. No, anyone who picks Felix is either not paying attention, being an ugly American, or making physical appearance part of their decision.

Yesterday’s Results
Terra Sarda in Sardinia (AP story)

Track on TV
Continental Cup Day 2 rerun, 6 PM on Universal Sports
Diamond League Brussels rerun, 1 AM on Universal Sports

Around the Web
Runner's World Racing News has all the headlines, including a beatdown of Athletics Sout Africa's Leonard Cheune

Running Times' weekend racing recap

Missed this news yesterday...Florence Kiplagat ran a great half-marathon debut over the weekend in France

Weekly shows are up: RunnerSpace Weekly and Track Focus podcast

Let's Run's weekly review of distance running

Garret Heath on transitioning from college to professional running, Ryan Hall on running or not running, Ian Dobson wishes for a time machine

WR setter David Rudisha will be crowned a Masai elder...notable among Kenyan runners, he is not Kalenjin

Kaliese Spencer is happy with being the top hurdler...why would she be disappointed?

EMU's longtime head coach Bob Parks (now retired) celebrates his 80th birthday

Holland's Dam tot Dam 10-miler announces its elite field

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