Beijing is done and the results are in. There were some surprises, some legendary performances, and some breakthroughs. And of course, some disappointments. As a result, there was some need to revamp my lens on The Best Olympic Distance Performers Ever.
For those of you who'd never visited, the site ranks the best Olympic distance performers of all-time, based solely on their Olympic performances. So for example, Haile Gebrselassie's 25 world record performances give him no bonus points. He didn't run them on the Olympic oval.
I've decided to focus on the top 25 performers of all-time, male or female. But I've only identified the top 24! There are simply too many candidates for that last spot, and I need some help deciding who it should be. Should it be...
- Carlos Lopes, who won marathon gold in '84 and 10k silver in '76?
- Dieter Baumann, who won 5k gold in '92 and silver in '88?
- Douglas Lowe or Alberto Juantorena, who each won repeat 800m golds in '24/'28 and '76/'80, respectively?
- Svetlana Masterkova or Kelly Holmes, who each won the 800m/1500m double in '96 and '04, respectively?
- Or maybe Horace Ashenfelter, who won 1952 steeplechase gold in world record time?
It's hard to say, of course, until you've seen who's in the top 24. But there are still more athletes who may be worthy, including some from Beijing, and I've included them all in a poll. When we reach 50 votes, I'll put the leading vote-getter in the list!
Other changes to the lens were made as a result of what we learned in Beijing, including:
- Kenenisa Bekele is truly the best distance runner ever. But is he the best Olympic distance performer ever? No, but he's top-10 now.
- Tirunesh Dibaba is probably now the best woman runner ever as well, albeit not the most entertaining! She has now leaped into the top 20, joining countrywoman Derartu Tulu as the only women on the list.
- Haile Gebrselassie just competed in his 4th 10,000 meter final. He's finished 1st, 1st, 5th, 6th. Truly amazing, but his recent 6th was not enough to move him much up the rankings.
- Abubaker Kaki Khamis and Pamela Jelimo both looked poised to dominate their way into contention in Beijing, but after Kaki faltered in the semis, only Pamela Jelimo delivered.
- Steeplers Brimin Kipruto and Gulnara Samitova-Galkina both made incredible arguments for inclusion, but does the steeple really count for as much as the other events?
- Bernard Lagat came in with a solid Olympic resume and hopes of winning the distance double, but struggled in his races and it looks unlikely that he will have another shot at making the list.
- Catherine Ndereba missed her chance at making the list as well, except she did it by failing to pay attention during her race! Sammy Wanjiru, on the other hand, did as much as possible in his first shot. Another Olympic race like that one and he'll be on the list for sure.
- And what do we do with perennial silver medalists like Ndereba, Elvan Abeylegesse and Sileshi Sihine? Are they destined, like Paul Tergat, to live in the void, receiving votes of support from fans but no love from the rankings themselves? Actually, yes.
I hope you'll stop by and vote in the polls. And don't forget to bookmark the page and tell a friend. London's right around the corner, you know!
(More great lenses can be found to your left, too, or by clicking here.)