Rog wrote:I thought David Rudisha was one of the stars of the Olympics, but I didn't vote for him either. Two reasons - yes, he broke the world record with a front running tactic, but that is the best way for him to run, he doesn't have a lightning fast kick. What was impressive was that he set a world record without pacemakers. The use of pacemaking has made all distance events boring and predictable to me, and I'm sure it has contributed greatly to the rise of the sprinters and hurdlers to being the sport's stars.
The bigger reason for me not voting for Daniel was that I think the 800 hasn't developed as much as other events yet. The record is only about 0.8 faster than it was 30 years ago. In that time the 1500 record has improved by over 5 seconds, so by middle distance standards progress in the 800 is comparatively lacking. In comparison to sprint events, the sea level 400 best has improved by 1.1 and the 200 by 0.8 in the same period - one would think the margins by which a sprint record could improve would be much smaller than a middle distance event, but not so. Even the sea level 100 record has improved by nearly half a second!
My number 1 was Usain Bolt in Beijing - beating a world record in the 100 despite basically slacking off with 20 to go is unheard of. In London Usain didn't break any individual records, but he was competing against himself in this regard, and I think his sprint records are the strongest of all world records. Despite what people say about Rudisha, I would still say Usain was the star athlete of the Games, not just in terms of star quality, but in terms of performance as well.
Excellent points, Rog. But comparisons are always affected by when we start them ... For example, if we take the 800, it depends on if we begin before or after Seb Coe. Using 1976 Olympics as a starting point, here are the relative improvements in track (not including hurdles) WRs;
9.95 - 9.58 (3.72%)
19.72 - 19.19 (2.69%)
43.86 - 43.18 (1.55%)
1:43.50 - 1:40.91 (2.50%)
3:32.16 - 3:26.00 (2.90%)
8:08.02 - 7:53.63 (2.95%)
13:13.0 - 12:37.35 (4.50%)
27:30.8 - 26:17.53 (4.44%)
Granted, the first three are all altitude aided, so the percentage would be marginally higher. That underscores just how strong Usain Bolt's 100 record is, which very well may stand as WR for a looooong time.
But what this also shows, is how incredible the 5 & 10k records are. What Geb & Bekele have done to the respective WRs is absolutely stunning. Did they profit from pacemakers? Yes. But distance running is different from sprinting in so many ways, and they (Geb & Bekele) still had to finish the race to set the record. IMHO, what they have done in the distances is every bit as amazing as what Bolt has done in the sprints, and their WRs are every bit as strong.