Thursday, October 28, 2010

US Athletes of the Year for 2010

ZURICH, Aug. 20, 2010 David Oliver (C) of the United States celebrates after the men's 110m hurdles final at the IAAF Diamond League athletics meeting in Zurich, Switzerland, Aug. 19, 2010. Oliver clocked 12.93 seconds to win the title. (Xinhua/Yu Yang.

Having named the World Athletes of the Year, next on the list are the US versions. And as with the global AOY’s the choice for the men is fairly easy while that for the women is a little closer to call.

For the men, it’s as easy as selecting the runner up choice for the Men’s World Athlete of the Year – David Oliver. Oliver was neck and neck in the selection for World Male AOY until a pair of World Records tipped the scales in Rudisha’s favor. Otherwise Oliver may have been the World Male AOY such was Oliver’s season.

David Oliver was as dominating in the 110 hurdles as any athlete has been in any event in quite some time. For starters, he was undefeated. But more importantly, the quality of his performances was outstanding as Oliver was responsible for 12 of the top 20 performances on the season – 5 of them under the magical 13.00 barrier. Oliver set two American Records in 2010 – a tie in Eugene (12.90) and the first sub12.90 by an American in Paris (12.89). Add a margin of victory that was consistently well over .10sec and the only thing that Oliver didn’t do during his campaign is break the WR.


David Oliver’s Top 10 Performances in 2010

Time Location Date

Winning Margin

12.89 Paris Jul 16 .23
12.90 Eugene Jul 3 .26
12.93 Des Moines Jun 27 .24
12.93 Zurich Aug 19 .32
12.99 Shanghai May 23 .30
13.01 Monaco Jul 22 .12
13.01 Rieti Aug 29 .25
13.06 London Aug 14 .16
13.11 Daegu May 15 .15
13.11 Split Sep 5 .37
13.11 Annecy Sep 11 .54

Nearly as dominating was my runner up shot putter Christian Cantwell. Cantwell lead the world at 22.41 / 73’ 6.25”; had 11 meets over 71 feet, and was victorious in 16 of 18 outdoor competitions. Extremely solid credentials. Unfortunately for Christian Oliver simply never faltered or had a down moment.

On the women’s side things were much tighter, as I found three women to be worthy of the title – Allyson Felix, Chaunte Howard Lowe, and Kara Patterson.

Allyson Felix had a single loss on the season while winning Diamond League titles in both the 200 and 400 meters. Chaunte Howard Lowe set a new AR in the high jump while going toe to toe all season with Blanka Vlasic – and gave her fits. While Kara Patterson also set an AR in the javelin and went toe to toe all summer with Barboa Spotakova.

In the final evaluation, Felix dominated the competition, but both her competition and her marks over most of the season were a bit less than stellar. Patterson was a step above as she set new standards for American javelin throwers with 9 meets over 200 feet including her AR of 66.67 / 218’ 8” – the best season ever for an American javelin thrower. But just as Patterson’s season was a step above Felix’, Chaunte Howard Lowe’s season was a nudge above Patterson’s.

In 16 outdoor competitions, Howard Lowe finished no less than 2nd in all but 2 of them. In 9 of them she cleared 2.00 / 6’ 6.75” or better. Four times she took World AOY to a count back on misses before surrendering victory. And twice she claimed victory over the World AOY! Did I mention she set an AR 2.05 / 6’ 8.75”. So in a year were several American women stepped up on the world stage it is my opinion that Chaunte Howard Lowe was indeed the best of them all.


Chaunte Lowe’s Top 10 Performances in 2010

Mark Location Date
2.05 / 6’ 8.75” Des Moines Jun 26
2.04 / 6’ 8.25” Cottbus May 30
2.03 / 6’ 8” Rome Jun 10
2.01 / 6’ 7” Oslo Jun 4
2.00 / 6’ 6.75” Kingston May 1
2.00 / 6’ 6.75” Madrid Jul 2
2.00 / 6’ 6.75” Barcelona Jul 9
2.00 / 6’ 6,75” Paris Jul 16
2.00 / 6’ 6.75” Stockholm Aug 6
1.98 / 6’ 6” Doha May14


Congratulations to all of this year’s top performers. I’m looking forward to much more from all of them in 2011.

Jun 26, 2010; Des Moines, IA, USA; Chaunte Howard celebrates after setting an American record of 6-8 3/4 (2.05m) in the women's high jump in the USA Track & Field Championships at Drake Stadium. Photo by Image of Sport Photo via Newscom


  1. I am in total agreement with you on the men side.However, I parted company with you on the women pick. Even with no world-leading time to top off her season with, my vote is for Allyson Felix. In my book winning counts a lot and Felix, apart from only one defeat this season is a reasonable choice.

  2. I agree that winning counts ... And this was a tough decision for me to make because I've been an Allyson fans since the beginning, and Patterson has grown on me this year because she is such a tough competitor ...

    But in the end Chaunte competed against the best in the world and was basically even (four losses on misses) ... She had a world leading performance, an American Record and

  3. And extreme consistency at the highest level of her event ... Had Allyson had a couple of sub 22's and a couple of sub 50's to go with all her wins I would have gone with Allyson even without an AR ... But performance wise as well as competition wise I felt Chaunte was at a higher level ...

    So we will have to agree to disagree on this one - because Allyson and Kara certainly had superb seasons as well ...

  4. After reading your blog on the AOY I was in agreement with you on Rushida and Blanka.Now could you explain to me how the hell Defar, Murer, and Tadese now leading the vote. Are people just voting for their own nationality without regards to athletic merit?

  5. Because people tend to vote their bias and not reality …

    Often that falls along nationalistic lines (as with most US v Jamaica debates) but with something like this it also comes down to people's favorite athletes and even favorite events …

    I would have loved to say that David Oliver was the World AOY, after all he was undefeated and had stellar marks … But in the end WR's trump NR's and so I had to go with Rudisha as his top performances were better …

    The IAAF let's the fans vote and it ends up being like the voting for the NBA All Star Game - more of a popularity contest than an examination of the current season … I try to be as objective as I can, which is why I talk a lot about the numbers - both in terms of wins / losses and quality of performances - and try to balance them out as best I can …

  6. Do you think Allyson Felix should move up to the 400m and challenge Sanya Richards for the title?

  7. Absolutely ... Personally I think it's her best event ... Her race is based on strength and speed endurance - classic Bobby Kersee ... Plus she's already shown she can beat Sanya ... And she's done it without a solid race pattern ... She follows the leaders and outworks them to the finish ... Once she learns the race she could be deadly ...

  8. Mr Hill, which body is the governing body for track and field in the USA. Is it USATF or USOC? which is more superior? Does USATF get funding from USOC ? or what.

  9. USATF is the governing body for track and field ...

    USOC is the coordinating body for all Olympic related teams and events for the US ... So it has more "power" I suppose ... It has more international influence ...

    The USOC does provide athlete support programs ... But is not responsbile for funding USATF ...