Book review I
THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME?
Athletics journalist Mel Watman (GBR; picture) has been writing about track and field for more than 50 years and is thrilled about "World's Greatest in Athletics". He call it "the world's greatest athletics statistics book" in his review in the newsletter Athletics International.
Who are the greatest athletes of all time? That's always been a contentious issue and those enthusiasts who love the facts and figures of our sport enjoy nothing more than discussing, or more likely arguing, the respective merits of champions of different eras. Now two distinguished statisticians cum historians – Britain's Peter Matthews and Richard Hymans – have stuck their necks out in a book entitled “World's Greatest in Athletics”. Published in Sweden by Jonas Hedman's TextoGraf company, it runs to 832 pages and could well qualify as the world's greatest athletics statistics book. It may be expensive to buy, but any “nut” worthy of the name will revel in its contents.
"It runs to 832 pages and could well qualify as the world's greatest athletics statistics book."
There are three distinct sections: a provocative top ten ranking of the world's greatest in each of the standard events; all-time lists of unprecedented depth (500 performers plus 100 best performances) for each event as at 1 January 2015; and top ten all-time lists as at the end of each decade, 1900-2010. It's not all words and figures either, for this stunning publication also contains 315 photos.
"It's not all words and figures either, for this stunning publication also contains 315 photos."
Just to tease you, here are the athletes who are ranked as second greatest of all time (as at the end of 2014) in their respective events. You should have fun trying to guess who are rated number one … but you will have to buy the book to find out!
100: Bob Hayes & Marlies Göhr;
200: Michael Johnson & Irena Szewinska;
400: Jeremy Wariner & Szewinska;
800: David Rudisha & Ana Fidelia Quirot;
1500: Seb Coe & Hassiba Boulmerka;
5000: Paavo Nurmi & Tirunesh Dibaba;
10,000: Kenenisa Bekele & Wang Junxia;
Marathon: Haile Gebrselassie & Catherine Ndereba;
3000SC: Ezekiel Kemboi & Milcah Chemos;
110H & 80/100H: Roger Kingdom & Shirley Strickland;
400H: Kevin Young & Nezha Bidouane;
HJ: Valeriy Brumel & Stefka Kostadinova;
PV: Cornelius Warmerdam & Svetlana Feofanova;
LJ: Ralph Boston & Jackie Joyner-Kersee;
TJ: Viktor Saneyev & Françoise Mbango;
SP: Randy Matson & Valerie Adams;
DT: Lars Riedel & Nina Dumbadze;
HT: Sergey Litvinov & Betty Heidler;
JT: Matti Järvinen & Petra Felke;
Dec/Hep: Dan O'Brien & Carolina Klüft;
20kW: Vladimir Golubnichiy & Olympiada Ivanova;
50kW: Hartwig Gauder.
The rankings double up also as a who's who of the all-time greats. The top ranked athlete in each event is accorded a biography and details of annual progression and best performances, while the next nine – plus those who get an honourable mention – get brief accounts of their career achievements.
And who do the authors consider the greatest male and female athletes of them all? Both were legendary Olympic heroes who excelled not only as sprinters but in at least one other event too. Again, to find out you need to get this unique book – you won't regret it!
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