All-time greatest athletes in T&F history


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All-time greatest athletes in T&F history

Postby dbirds » Sun Oct 07, 2012 5:30 pm

Now that another Olympics has passed, I want to take a look and see if/where Usain Bolt (and any others deserve to be on the all-time list. I figure we could start with the T&FN voting went in March 2000, when they selected the All-Century teams . Geb, Johnson and Devers's careers were not over and El Guerrouj, Bolt and several others have excelled since then. Also, if this is an all-time list, should any from pre-1900 (Dinnie, Myers, George, etc) be included?? Would anyone like to add any athletes in these top 10 lists or HM lists?

Men:
1. Carl Lewis
2. Paavo Nurmi
3. Emil Zatopek
4. Jesse Owens
5. Sergey Bubka
6. Edwin Moses
7. Al Oerter
8. Parry O'Brien
9. Michael Johnson
10. Dutch Warmerdam
11. Viktor Saneyev

Others with votes (alphabetically): Seb Coe, Herb Elliott, Haile Gebrselassie (remember, this was before the 2000 season), Bob Hayes, Matti Jarvinen, Bob Mathias, Tommie Smith, Peter Snell, Yuriy Syedikh, Daley Thompson, Jim Thorpe.

Women:
1. Jackie Joynher-Kersee
2. Irena Szewinska
3. Iolanda Balas
4. Marita Koch
5. Fanny Blankers-Koen
6. Heike Drechsler
7. Babe Didrickson
8. Tatyana Kazankina
9. Shirley de la Hunty
10. Tamara Press

Others (alpha): Evelyn Ashford, Betty Cuthbert, Gail Devers, Florence Griffith-Joyner, Ruth Fuchs, Gisela Mauermayer, Ulrike Meyfarth, Wilma Rudolph, Mary Slaney, Wyomia Tyus, Grete Waitz, Wang Junxia.
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Re: All-time greatest athletes in T&F history

Postby Olli » Sun Oct 07, 2012 11:28 pm

Of the athletes whose career started much before 2000, Zelezny should be added (dominated his event at least as strongly as Bubka).
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Re: All-time greatest athletes in T&F history

Postby dbirds » Mon Oct 08, 2012 10:14 am

I agree about Zelezny. I am a peak value guy (disclaimer) but I would put Bolt behind Nurmi at 3 all-time. If he repeats the triple in Rio or sets a WR in the 4 and wins more gold in Rio then I will probably move him to #1 all-time.
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Re: All-time greatest athletes in T&F history

Postby j-a-m » Wed Oct 10, 2012 2:39 am

dbirds wrote:9. Michael Johnson

I'd put MJ much higher than that.
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Re: All-time greatest athletes in T&F history

Postby user4 » Wed Oct 10, 2012 9:44 am

j-a-m wrote:
dbirds wrote:9. Michael Johnson

I'd put MJ much higher than that.


Id put Rafer higher than that... and Mathias.
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Re: All-time greatest athletes in T&F history

Postby dj » Wed Oct 10, 2012 2:44 pm

user4 wrote:
j-a-m wrote:
dbirds wrote:9. Michael Johnson

I'd put MJ much higher than that.


Id put Rafer higher than that... and Mathias.


Two decathletes in the top-8 t&f athletes of all time?
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Re: All-time greatest athletes in T&F history

Postby user4 » Wed Oct 10, 2012 3:48 pm

dj wrote:
user4 wrote:
j-a-m wrote:I'd put MJ much higher than that.


Id put Rafer higher than that... and Mathias.


Two decathletes in the top-8 t&f athletes of all time?


0 is too few and 3 is too many.
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Re: All-time greatest athletes in T&F history

Postby dbirds » Thu Oct 11, 2012 6:41 pm

if we are talking true athleticism, they both should be there. If we are talking best at their events, then probably only 1 decathlete, 2 tops...Daley for sure and maybe one more
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Re: All-time greatest athletes in T&F history

Postby Gabriella » Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:05 am

I have Zelezny as top 3. His medal count is amazing:

Olympics: 3x gold, 1x silver
Worlds: 3x gold, 2x bronze

He's the WR holder, he has the top 5 marks of all-time and has nearly half of all throws over 90m. There's even an argument for him to be ranked number 1.
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Re: All-time greatest athletes in T&F history

Postby Rog » Mon Oct 15, 2012 6:16 am

Gabriella wrote:I have Zelezny as top 3. His medal count is amazing:

Olympics: 3x gold, 1x silver
Worlds: 3x gold, 2x bronze

He's the WR holder, he has the top 5 marks of all-time and has nearly half of all throws over 90m. There's even an argument for him to be ranked number 1.


Except his event was overhauled in the mid 80s, thus barring all-time greats such as Uwe Hohn and Janis Lusis from the lists. Plus he got beaten in all those Euros.

My head tells me he's the greatest javelin thrower ever - but my heart tells me it's Uwe Hohn. No need to remind me of the disparity in medals, career longevity etc, it's not about that. To me the difference is that Zelezny was a great thrower, but Hohn was magical. 104.8m and people scattering desperately out of the way of the javelin - that's like Usain Bolt winning the Olympic 100 by over 2m despite having stopped his effort 20m out. It's one of the coolest moments in the history of the sport.
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Re: All-time greatest athletes in T&F history

Postby no one » Mon Oct 15, 2012 9:19 am

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Re: All-time greatest athletes in T&F history

Postby dbirds » Mon Oct 15, 2012 2:39 pm

Zelezny is fantastic but it is much easier to win Javelin medals than say long jump or pole vault or 200m. That being said, I would have no problem with him in the top 10.
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Re: All-time greatest athletes in T&F history

Postby Olli » Tue Oct 16, 2012 7:53 am

Why is javelin easier than pole vault?
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Re: All-time greatest athletes in T&F history

Postby Olli » Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:10 am

Rog wrote:My head tells me he's the greatest javelin thrower ever - but my heart tells me it's Uwe Hohn. No need to remind me of the disparity in medals, career longevity etc, it's not about that. To me the difference is that Zelezny was a great thrower, but Hohn was magical. 104.8m and people scattering desperately out of the way of the javelin - that's like Usain Bolt winning the Olympic 100 by over 2m despite having stopped his effort 20m out. It's one of the coolest moments in the history of the sport.


Well, our hearts tell differently. Moreover, Hohn was part of the GDR system, whose "methods"... (do I have to complete the sentence?)

And while it is true that Hohn's 104m was 5m longer than the previous WR, that was the only time (to my knowledge) that he threw above it. Zelezny's 98m is still, after all years with the new model, 5m longer than the best mark by someone else (Aki Parviainen's 93m), and he has thrown, I think, about five other times above that. Being able to do it repeatedly tells much in an event in which results depend a lot on lucky wind circumstances.
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Re: All-time greatest athletes in T&F history

Postby Per Andersen » Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:49 pm

Olli wrote:
Well, our hearts tell differently. Moreover, Hohn was part of the GDR system, whose "methods"... (do I have to complete the sentence?)

And while it is true that Hohn's 104m was 5m longer than the previous WR, that was the only time (to my knowledge) that he threw above it. Zelezny's 98m is still, after all years with the new model, 5m longer than the best mark by someone else (Aki Parviainen's 93m), and he has thrown, I think, about five other times above that. Being able to do it repeatedly tells much in an event in which results depend a lot on lucky wind circumstances.

Agreed.
In addition I think Zelezny"s three results over 95m with the new javelin trumps Hohn's three results over 97m with the old javelin. Hohn was over 100m just once and his second best at 99+ is not much further than Zelezny's WR.

Is it unthinkable that Jan could have launched one over 105m with the old spec jav? No!
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Re: All-time greatest athletes in T&F history

Postby Rog » Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:44 am

I don't disgaree with anything you're saying about Zelezny - objectively, he's the greatest. I don't agree that Hohn's GDR background should be held against him, though, because:

- I doubt his "methods" were much different from all but the minority of history's great throwers of the last 60 years; and

- I suspect that in his case he would have actually had a greater career had he come from, for example, West Germany - when he was injured, the GDR Doctors gave him a risky operation that ended his career. Elsewhere he might have come back successfully and returned to being his invincible self, and given his youth have taken golds in Seoul and Barcelona. As it was he would have been the clearest favourite for gold in LA were it not for the senseless boycott.

I'll build on my Usain Bolt analogy by saying that Zelezny, whilst a great athlete, didn't look anything special - he was a Tyson Gay in this respect (I'm not taking anything away from his achievements by saying this). But Hohn was like Usain Bolt - he just looked superhuman, with his 6 ft 6 build, and there was an extra level of excitement about seeing this man and being aware of what he could potentially do. It was like watching Thor competing against mortals - he just looked like he was in a league of his own.

As I said, it's a heart over head thing.
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Re: All-time greatest athletes in T&F history

Postby Olli » Wed Oct 17, 2012 5:33 am

This javelin discussion should perhaps be moved to another thread, but here are some comments:

Rog wrote:- I doubt his "methods" were much different from all but the minority of history's great throwers of the last 60 years; and


I agree that in the 1970s–1980s Czechs, Westerners etc. may have been equally likely to use similar "methods." However, after testing practices changed (1988?), their use was certainly significantly limited, as is testified by the decline of results. (This decline is especially strong in women's events, but it also applies to men, as was recently discussed in a thread about shot put.) Hence while I cannot prove that Z. was absolutely clean, it seems highly probable that he was less assisted by the "methods" in question.

Rog wrote:I'll build on my Usain Bolt analogy by saying that Zelezny, whilst a great athlete, didn't look anything special - he was a Tyson Gay in this respect (I'm not taking anything away from his achievements by saying this). But Hohn was like Usain Bolt - he just looked superhuman, with his 6 ft 6 build, and there was an extra level of excitement about seeing this man and being aware of what he could potentially do. It was like watching Thor competing against mortals - he just looked like he was in a league of his own.


Here different things just impress different people. To me, it is not so impressive if an athlete "looks special" or freakish big or anything. I am more impressed if a relatively ordinary-looking guy has the superlative skill of Zelezny's.
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Re: All-time greatest athletes in T&F history

Postby Per Andersen » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:53 pm

I get it now. Zelezny just looked too "normal" while huge guys like Hohn and Backley were way more imposing.
The thing is how big do you need to be to throw the 800 gram implement? I grew up watching Danielsen and later Terje Pedersen, another huge guy. But later I had the opportunity to watch Jorma Kinnunen in several meets. The fact Kinnunen was "only" 1.76 (5-9) never entered my mind. I just studied his technique. He was my favorite before Lusis came on the scene.

It helps to be over 6ft in the jav but 6-6 might not have been an advantage. Sure Hohn was hugely talented and who knows what could have happened had he remained healthy. But I would prefer to watch Zelezny throw any day, him and Lusis.

BTW Lusis was not affected by the Javelin change. Lusis was gone by 1974 12 years prior to the introduction of the "new" jav.
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Re: All-time greatest athletes in T&F history

Postby cullman » Wed Oct 17, 2012 11:54 pm

Olli wrote:...Here different things just impress different people. To me, it is not so impressive if an athlete "looks special" or freakish big or anything. I am more impressed if a relatively ordinary-looking guy has the superlative skill of Zelezny's.

...and/or Valery Brumel. Again an average looking athlete with superlative skills...and an "aura" about him.
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Re: All-time greatest athletes in T&F history

Postby Olli » Thu Oct 18, 2012 5:42 am

Per Andersen wrote:BTW Lusis was not affected by the Javelin change. Lusis was gone by 1974 12 years prior to the introduction of the "new" jav.


Not that this pertains at all to this discussion, but I think I recall Lusis was still 8th in Montreal.
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