Do you remember the 80s? Year in, year out, one could expect a dozen men's world records and even more of them for women. Things became more tame in the 90s (except for some chinese women fireworks) and the the 00s brought everything almost to a standstill. In the last ten years we have had as many new records as in a single year a quarter century before. Here is a list of the various events and the year where the standing record was established.
|3000 m st||2004||2008|
|110 m hd||2012||1988|
|400 m hd||1992||2003|
(I do not mention the walk events: one day I will write an entry on the matter). While the situation is not so bad for men, thanks to such talented athletes as Bolt, Rudisha, Bekele, Merritt and the decathletes it becomes catastrophic for women. If one discards the new and relatively new events the only recent world record is that of the 4x100 m! What is happening here? The answer is simple: anti-doping. At a certain point the international instances decided that they would seriously test for doping in and out of competition. That was the end of the avalanche of women's records. (I know that I am being unfair: the record explosion in the 80s was not only due to doping but also to the new synthetic surfaces and improved equipment, let alone the more scientific methods of preparation, but doping is the thing that changed since).
So here is a crazy proposal of mine. Let us proceed to a tabula rasa. Discard all records prior to some recent date, say 2010. Let us start afresh.
Rollins and Pearson, to my eyes the best high-hurdlers ever
|100 m||U. Bolt||9.63||C. Jeter & S.A. Fraser||10.70|
|200 m||Y. Blake||19.26||A. Felix||21.69|
|400 m||L. Merritt||43.74||A. Krivoshapka||49.16|
|800 m||D. Rudisha||1:40.91||M. Savinova||1:55.87|
|1500 m||A. Kiprop||3:27.72||M. Selsouli||3:56.15|
|5000 m||D. Gebremeskel||12:46.81||V. Cheruiyot||14:20.87|
|10000 m||K. Bekele||26:43.16||M. Defar||30:08.06|
|Half Marathon||Z. Tadese||58.23||P. Jeptoo||1:05:45|
|Marathon||W. Kipsang||2:03:23||L. Shobukhova||2:18:20|
|3000 m st||B. Kipruto||7:53.64||Y. Zaripova||9:05.02|
|110 m hd||A. Merritt||12.80||B. Rollins||12.28|
|400 m hd||B. Jackson||47.32||L. Demus||52.47|
|High Jump||B. Bondarenko||2.41||A. Chicherova||2.07|
|Pole Vault||R. Lavillenie||6.02||J. Suhr||4.91|
|Long Jump||A. Menkov||8.56||B. Reese||7.25|
|Triple Jump||T. Tamgho||18.04||O. Rypakova||15.25|
|Shot Put||C. Cantwell||22.41||V. Adams||21.24|
|Discus Throw||P. Malachowski||71.84||S. Perkovic||69.11|
|Hammer Throw||K. Pars||82.40||B. Heidler||79.42|
|Javelin Throw||A. Thorkildsen||90.61||M. Abakumova||71.99|
|Decathlon||A. Eaton||9039||J. Ennis||6955|
There are plenty of new names, some of them unexpected. The big surprise comes when one compares the "since 2010 records" with the standing world records. Blake instead of Bolt on 200 m, no sign of Dibaba, no mention of Isinbayeva. Just for the fun of it. When I was looking for the best, post-2010, women discus performance I had to triple-check: S. Perkovic is number 286 in the all-time list!