i would scrap nurmi. his best times are equivalent to a nearly 11 seconds 100m in the iaaf tables.
He won the 1500/5000 double within an hour at the 1924 Oly. Also, if I recall, he set WRs at these distances within the same time frame at the Oly Trials for Finland. These performances are/were extraordinary, and even today, only El G has taken the same Oly double.
To look back at an earler time and state that the times or distances are too "poor" to compare with modern giants is ill advised in the extreme; in 200 years time when, as a possibility, athletes may be running 42/42.5 for a 400m , it would be equally fatheaded to regard Johnsons WR as not good enough to be seriously regarded.
Nurmi's record is self evidently supreme by OG and WR standards, but much more relevant, imo, is that he was the first great athlete to take times to a new level and to test out the possibilities of the body's potential by dint of his enormous training regimes.
Yes, absolutely. This whole "greatest" exercise can ONLY start with an honest attempt to look at relative achievement: the quality of an individual in the context of his (her) own era. Nothing else makes any sense at all. If we're going to be absolutist about a 4:10 mile time, then we ALSO need to be absolutist about its DATE. You cannot separate one from the other and come up with any meaningful judgments.
For anyone that's interested, I spent a couple of hours working out the ranking points for most of the top 20 listed in the men's list printed in AW the other week, using a slightly different points system, that I outlined in previous posts.
There are a few changes. Most notably, the top 3 change positions, Viren drops quite a few places, while Morceli and Clarke, move up quite a bit. I'm fairly happy with the results, and think it is a fairer system, though no system is perfect, as it gives more credit for longevity, consistency and marks set and other distances (Mile, 2000m, 3000m & 2 miles), where some of the records/performances were every bit as impressive as times set in Olympic distances.
Anyway, as perhaps a source of further discussion, this is what I calculated.
1) Paavo Nurmi - 374 points 2) Haile Gebreselassie -316 3) Keninisa Bekele - 308 4) Hicham El Guerrouj - 218 5) Emil Zatopek - 217 6) Said Aouita - 200 (208 if you include 800m) 7) Ron Clarke - 171 (up from 17th!) 8=) Noureddine Morceli & Hannes Kolehmainen - 155 10) Vladimir Kuts - 154 11=) Henry Rono & Moses Kiptanui - 147 13=) Paul Tergat & Lasse Viren - 133 15) Kipchoge Keino - 126
I stopped at 15th! I was interested in using my points system on a few other athletes who weren't part of the original list. I got the following findings:- Daniel Komen -94, Jim Ryun - 86, Bernard Lagat - 69
Two points of note. In the original AW list, they stated that they awarded "two points for each FULL season as record-holder". I took that to mean that the world record lasted 365 days! When going through the athletes on the list, this didn't appear to be the case. Well, it wasn't clear. Anyway, I awarded 2 points for any record that lasted a year, and those records that were set that didn't last a year didn't get a bonus 2)
I also wasn't quite sure why the original criteria for "distance" runners included 1500m but not 800m? Perhaps they plan a future list for middle distance. I looked at a few of the stand-out middle distance runners from over the years, and using the same points system (mine not AW's), I got the following points for distances ranging from 800 to 2000m Coe - 250 El G - 190 Snell - 151 Morceli - 140 Ovett - 117 (135 if you go from 800 up to 2 miles) Cram - 87 Ryun - 86 Aouita - 73