The term world class is used way too often when referring to athletes. How do you define world class? Do you deem athletes "world class" based on the top 10/25/50 performances on the year-end world list or do you compare the athletes marks with the all-time lists? Is it based on a subjective time/height/distance? Do you base it on performance in major championships or how the athlete fared against the competition in the same era? Or is it a little bit of everything?
For example, I consider someone "world class" mostly on a subjective time/distance/height, or course taking into account performance in major championships. So for me it's something like this:
100 - sub 10.05
200 - sub 20.10
400 - sub 44.8
800 - sub 1:44
1500 - sub 3:32
5K - sub 13:10
I think we may have reached a point where you have to be sub-13 in the 5K for world class. Which boggles my mind, considered 13 hadn't yet been breached when I started watching track only 20 years ago.
I'm not sure I'd use marks to determine "world class." I'd say top 10-20 in each event are "world class." I would also say they're position in the last has to be consistent over some period of time, say a season.
To go along with 1.97hjsteve & joel, I think you must be world-class if promoters invite you to meets that include other competitors of the highest level. In essence, if you are world-class, you will be invited to the world's top invitational meets and you will represent your country in WC's & OG's. I do understand that agents and other things play into this, but in my mind, this constitutes world-class.
I've had a simplistic litmus test for x-class for years: whatever the length of T&FN's year-end lists is. If you make those lists you've got a chance to qualify for the various Championships, and that's good enough for me.
The problem with focusing in on a specific time/distance, like say your 1:44, is that you get hung up on round numbers.
Thus it was for years (in the English world) that a 7-foot high jumper or sub-4:00 miler got a disproportionate amount of praise for not really being any better than somebody in an event that didn't have quite the same benchmark available.
Metric/english differences also skew the field events. You might think of 55-feet as a good place to start calling a men's triple jumper world class, but a European would be likely to say 17m (55-10.5), which is a lot different.
i actually agree with the original list. it seems so hard especially for some of the best american/european runners. krumm ran 1:43 and 3:31 last year. he's ran constantly around 1:47 or better this season including a 1:45 at the world indoors. he's world class for sure in the 800 and 1500.
I like the year-end list approach too. I have a hard time going with the national team approach because it's too simplistic. Some events the US is very strong and there are athletes not making the team who are still among the top 10/20 in the world. In other events the US is weak and the athletes wouldn't even make the C or D squad of another nation.
The IAAF rules on their site for obtaining a world ranking are 6 races in the last year, 4 of which must be from their Main Events (I assume that means Championships and the Golden League). To me, that sounds like a lot of racing, especially if you're a distance runner. To an American college student it sounds like a redshirt season, but that's another topic altogether.
What happens is a guy like Yuriy Borzakovskiy, who races sensibly and shows from his times that he is one of the top 3 in the world, will be poorly represented in the IAAF rankings. I imagine Yuriy just barely has the 6 minimum races to be ranked. He's currently ranked 7th in the 800 event, but from his season-leading indoor 1:44.34 win earlier this year against Kipketer, Baala, and Bungei, he proved he deserves at least #3.
One fast time a season does not make, but if you pop off a couple of fast times, or do one against the rest of the best, you are the man to beat. The rankings should reflect that.
Only people who haven't tried to be world class would spend much time on such a thing. There are two kinds of athletes. Those who are in the race on TV, and those who watch the race on TV.
You can't base a concept like "world class" on rankings, because rankings are arbitrarily cut off at 10, 25, 50, whatever. Such mathematical rank-order concepts just don't cut it for athletes when you step on the track.
You're world class when ANYBODY in the world has to take you seriously in competition. In other words, they can't just cruise and beat you. Practically speaking, that often means that "world class" extends deeper into the list than, say, 50 (or some arbitrary number).
For instance, there are lots of 10.2 100m runners; it's not uncommon for meet promoters to have to put together a field like that against the likes Greene or Montgomery. And if the stars don't perform, they get beat. In contrast, if the only thing a meet promoter can find is a bunch of 10.5 runners, the stars can have a terrible day and still win.
So from the athletes perspective, if you are seeded/invited to a "good" meet, AND athletes from around the world are in your event, AND they all have to take you seriously (or face losing), then you're world class. Irrespective of your absolute performance. Similar principles apply to lesser levels (e.g., national class).
The main point is that it isn't a bunch of fans/observers (or even editors) who define ____ class, it's the athletes themselves.
Rankings are not arbitrary, who ever runs the fastest - is first, who ever runs the second fastest
is second. The only reason t&f news has little sections for American rankings ... to sell mags to American. T&F news is no different than Runners World. Just take a look at the ads at the back of both Mags.
>Rankings are not arbitrary, who ever runs the
>fastest - is first, who ever runs the second
is second. The only reason t&f news
>has little sections for American rankings ... to
>sell mags to American. T&F news is no different
>than Runners World. Just take a look at the ads
>at the back of both Mags.>>
Well, not to start another Runners World bashing party, but T&FN is no different than RW?! It is to laugh!
>The IAAF rules on their site for obtaining a
>world ranking are 6 races in the last year, 4 of
>which must be from their Main Events (I assume
>that means Championships and the Golden League).
Read it carefully. "Main events" means outdoor competitions in the standard events. The other two could be indoor competitions, or an odd distance like 300 meters. One of those 6 competitions can also be replaced by the athlete's ranking from the previous year. For field events, sprints, and hurdles, this is clearly too few competitions. For long races, this is too much. Road competition does not come into play; thus Paula Radcliffe had enough competitions only for a brief period, and was underrated even then.