Thursday, December 24, 2009

My All Decade Team - Men Track

12th IAAF World Athletics Championships - Day Two

Men's Sprints

Usain Bolt - 100/200
Tyson Gay - 100/200
Maurice Greene - 100
Asafa Powell - 100
Shawn Crawford - 200
Jeremy Wariner - 400
Lashawn Merritt - 400
Chris Brown - 400

Usain Bolt won double gold in Beijing, then again in Berlin. He was a presence in the deuce throughout the second half of the decade with a 9th in Helsinki and silver in Osaka before his dominance in Beijing and Berlin with two gold medal and WR performances (19.32, 19.19). He just recently joined the fray in the 100 the final two years but what he accomplished is hard to deny with 3 lowerings of the 100 record (9.72, 9.69, 9.58) and 2 gold medal runs.

Tyson Gay was also a double sprint gold medalist accomplishing the feat in Osaka, after placing 4th in the deuce in Helsinki. In 2006 he began the charge of super fast 200's as he began to go under 19.70 as no one else had in history - getting down to 19.58 in '09. 2006 was also the season he began to show form in the 100, becoming a consistent 9.8 performer before dropping to 9.7 and becoming one of history's best over the final 3 seasons of the decade, breaking the American record (9.77, 9.71, 9.69) while dominating multiple record setter Asafa Powell in Majors.

The final spot in the 100 goes in a tie to Asafa Powell and Maurice Greene. Greene finished out his career with Olympic (Sydney) and World (Edmonton) titles, then added Olympic bronze (Athens) and was the most feared sprinter the first half of the decade. Powell won no titles, but ran over 50 sub 10's and set 4 WR's in the event (9.77, 9.77, 9.77, 9.74), and won the most races during the '04, '05, and '06 seasons - just not on the big stage.

Shawn Crawford easily gets the final spot in the 200 as he won an Olympic title in Athens to go with bronze in Edmonton, silver in Beijing, and a 4th in Berlin. Crawford's excellence spanned the entire decade.

The first two spots in the 400 are pretty clear cut as Wariner (Athens, Helsinki and Osaka) and Merritt (Beijing and Berlin) won all the titles during the second half of the decade and had nearly all but 3 of the of the sub44 clockings. Wariner took silver to Merritt's golds in Beijing and Berlin. Merritt was silver to Wariner in Osaka. With bests of 43.45 (Wariner) and 43.75 (Merritt) they easily dominated the decade.

The other spot was a bit more difficult but Chris Brown with 4ths in Helsinki, Osaka and Beijing, and 5th in Berlin was the most consistent of the rest in both Majors and on the Circuit.

Men's Hurdles

Liu Xiang - 110H
Allen Johnson - 110H
Terrence Trammell - 110H
Angelo Taylor - 400H
Felix Sanchez - 400H
Kerrron Clement - 400H

Liu Xiang was the man that dominated the decade - bronze in Paris, gold in Athens, silver in Helsinki and gold in Osaka, Throw in a tie and then lowering of the WR ( and he was the best hurdler of the decade. His dominance makes many forget that Allen Johnson was still around during these past 10 years - but he was. A 4th in Sydney (losing bronze by .01), and gold medals in Edmonton and Paris, before finally bowing out with a bronze in Helsinki solidify Johnson's place as one of history's greatest hurdlers. The third spot was tricky as Dayron Robles finished out the decade with a new WR and Olympic gold in Beijing. But Terrence Trammell was there from start to finish during the decade, ran under 13 sec (12.95) and took silver in Sydney, Paris, Athens, Osaka, and Berlin (and a 5th in Helsinki). Making him the most consistently high finisher of the decade and one of the most consistent ever.

The long hurdles were quite competitive and there were some very strong performers that just couldn't make this team. Angelo Taylor won two Olympic gold medals (Sydney & Berlin) in spite of a hiatus in mid decade - joining only Edwin Moses as a two time Olympic gold medalist in this event. Felix Sanchez had a streak of two World gold medals (Edmonton & Paris) and Olympic gold (Athens) before falling to injury in Helsinki then returning for silver in Osaka and another finals appearance in Berlin (8th) - making him the most decorated hurdler of the decade. The final spot goes to Kerron Clement with two gold medlas (Osaka & Berlin) a silver (Beijing) and a 4th place finish (Helsinki). He was also the fastest on the clock during the decade (47.24).

Men's Middle Distances

Yuriy Borzakovski - 800
Wilson Kipketer - 800
Wilfred Bungei - 800
Mbulaeni Muladzi - 800
Hicham El Guerrouj - 1500
Bernard Lagat - 1500
Rui Silva - 1500

Borzakovski played a role in just about every champioship race during the decade - from a 5th in Sydney to a 4th in Berlin, and winning gold in Athens. Kipketer maintained a presence during the first half of the decade in spite of being weakened by malaria - gaining silver in Sydney, 4th in Paris and bronze in Athens. And was the decade leader on the clock (1:42.32) until Rudisha ran 1:42.01 in Sept of this year. Bungei & Muladzi share the 3rd spot on the 800 team as both were in most of the Major championships this decade with each winning a global title.

El Guerrouj and Lagat ran 1-2 in and Athens and were the top two performers on the clock during the decade - Athens finally gaining gold in the event after silver in Sydney, Edmonton and Paris, though he dominated on the clock and on the Circuit. Lagat finally won his own gold in Osaka after silver in Edmonton and Athens - then time out while awaiting American citizenship . In an event with ever changing faces this decade Silva was the most consistent of the rest during the decade with a 7th in Edmonton, 5th in Paris, and bronze medals in Athens and Helsinki.

Men's Distances

Kenenisa Bekele - 5000/10000
Eliude Kipchoge - 5000
Hicham ElGuerrouj - 5000
Zerseay Tadesse - 10000
Haile Gebrsellassie - 10000

Athlete of the decade Bekele's feats have already been chronicled. Bekele started his winning ways way back in 2003 where he won 10000 gold and 5000 bronze in Paris. Since then he's been on a tear - 10000 gold and 5000 silver in Sydney; 10000 gold in Helsinki; 10000 gold in Osaka; and double gold in both events in Beijing and again this year in Berlin! Throw in two world records in the 10000 and another in the 5000 and you have the decade's most dominant distance runner.

Kipchoge was the next most prolific during the decade, even upending Bekele for the gold in Paris to go with bronze (Athens), 4th (Helsinki), silver (Osaka & Beijing) and 5th (Berlin) place finishes. Hicham ElGuerrouj was the best of a group that was ever changing during the decade. Though he competed infrequently he held his own against both Bekele and Kipchoge beating both to take gold in Athens, and winning silver in Paris finishing between winner Kipchoge and bronze medalist Bekele.

Over 10000 Tadesse gave frequent chase behind Bekele taking bronze in Athens, 6th in Helsinki, 4th in Osaka, 5th in Beijing and finally silver in Berlin. Gebrsellassie was the gold medalist in Sydney, bronze medalist in Edmonton, silver medalist in Paris, and 5th place finisher in Athens before focusing his attention on the marathon - making him perhaps the best 10000 runner over a two decade span after his heroics in the 90's.

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