Thursday, October 14, 2010

Male Athlete of the Year – David Rudisha

BERLIN - AUGUST 22: David Lekuta Rudisha of Kenya celebrates the victory and the new world record in the men's 800m during the IAAF World Challenge ISTAF 2010 at the Olympic Stadium on August 22, 2010 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Boris Streubel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

With the 2010 season now officially over in my book with the closing of the Commonwealth Games, I think it’s safe to dole out major accolades for the season. I started earlier with a look at the Top Breakthrough Americans this year and hope to continue with other segments of the sport. But of course the biggie each year, and one that has already started lots of conversation, is the annual selection of Male and Female Athletes of the Year.

So, I think it’s safe to pick up my year end review with my selection of the Male Athlete of the Year.

In an average season it’s fairly easy to pick out an AOY as someone usually steps up early and separates from the pack. This year however, there were several athletes stepping up early, with the name “David” reaching the top of most lists by the start of the summer. That being David Oliver (US) and David Rudisha (KEN).

Both athletes had superb seasons. Each made significant impacts on the all time lists. Both established new national records – no mean feat given the history of both American hurdlers and of Kenyan half milers – and both went undefeated.

For me it was a neck and neck race throughout the summer until August 22nd, because on that day Rudisha ran 1:41.09 to take down Wilson Kipketer’s twelve year old WR (1:41.11) to stake his claim as the best half miler in history. One week later, Rudisha did it again going 1:41.01 for his second WR in the event and with it taking the title of the year’s most outstanding male as two WR’s trump two AR’s in my book.

I’ve seen many conversations on the net asking whether or not Rudisha did enough to warrant being the Athlete of the Year on many message boards. “Did he compete enough?” being the prime question. To that I say – absolutely. Rudisha started the season back on February 27th with a PR 45.00 – making him #48 on the world list this year. Not bad for a half miler who ran the event only once. A nice foreshadowing of what was to come.

He then opened in the 800 a few days later (Mar 4th) with a sizzling 1:43.15, and it was clear that his season was going to be something special. How special? Take a look at his 2010 performance list.





1:41.01 Rieti Aug 29
1:41.09 Berlin Aug 22
1:41.51 Heusden-Zolder Jul 10
1:42.04 Oslo Jun 4
1:42.84 Nairobi Jul 30
1:43.00 Doha May 14
1:43.15 Melbourne Mar 4
1:43.25 Lausanne Jul 8
1:43.37 Split Sep 5
1:43.50 Brussels Aug 27
1:44.03 Ostrava May 27
1:44.23 Nairobi Jun 26

Outstanding running with the top two performances in history, the #5 performance, and the #11 performance. His 1:41.51 was good enough to lead any season in history other than Kipketer’s WR season. His 1:42.04 would have lead all but 5 seasons in history. And only twice did he fail to run below 1:44. In my book Rudisha more than competed enough to go with unquestioned quality.

My Runner Up is just as clear with David Oliver also having a season for the ages. Undefeated. American Records of 12.90 and 12.89 (making him #3 all time), only .02 off the WR, and five meets under 13.00.

The degree of “perfection” was high this year performance wise. You couldn’t falter at all and be in the hunt for Athlete of the Year. Following are a handful of athletes that dominated the competition and had only a hiccup or so along the way, yet were left out of the conversation among the top two. So Honorable Mentions to:

Tyson Gay 100/200/400
Christian Cantwell Shot Put
Koji Murofushi Discus
Andreas Thorkildsen Javelin
Bershawn Jackson 400 Hurdles


As all had outstanding seasons. David Rudisha, however, had a magnificent, all conquering, historical kind of season. Making him my Male Athlete of the Year for 2010.


  1. Koji Murofushi is a hammer thrower, not a discus thrower. Even as a hammer thrower, I would not include him in the honorable mention since he only had five competitions (one of which was a loss). His distances may have been good for this year, but it is a down year like the women's 200m. The world leading mark was the shortest it has been since 1979! If you want to give a hammer throw some accolades, it should be Anita Włodarczyk. She set a new world record and doesn't even get a mention in your post on the women's side. She battled some injuries mid season, but was the only woman to set a world record this year and was pretty dominant before the injury.

  2. I have to agree with you on most counts ..

    My mistake on Koji .. Not sure what I was thinking when I typed discus .. And in retrospect, after doing the women's athlete of the year you are correct, I would not have put him as "HM" using the same criteria I did with the women ..

    With the men having so many outstanding marks, when I took a look at field eventers I wasn't looking at quality of marks as closely as I did when I examined the women's season records ...

    As for Anita, I will talk about her when I look at the performances of the year ... But as you said injuries did her in this season after a great start ... So her "season" suffered compared to the others ... But there is no doubt that she had one of the top performances of the year ...