I have been doing some research for next week's Week That Was and figured I should share it here early as it's topical.
Recently, TFN named David Rudisha as its athlete of the year. A solid, non-controversial choice.
But the other day, I was on the site and that video of Merritt's WR was running and I watched and was reminded how big his WR was and how special his season was.
I started wondering, "Did he have the best year of anyone in 2012?"
The argument can be made that yes he did.
Here are the stats:
Coming into the year, only 10 men in history had run 12.95 or faster. Aries Merritt ran 12.95 or faster 7 times, which means he produced 7 of the 29 fastest times in history.
Coming into the year, the world record in the 110 hurdles was 12.87 and Merritt obliterated that by .07 which is .54% faster than the old record.
Now let's compare that to what Rudisha did in the 800.
In the 800, coming into the year, the 10th fastest man in history had run 1:42.58. Rudisha beat that time 4 times, producing four of the top 17 times in history.
Coming into the year, the world record in the 800 was 1:41.01 and Rudisha beat that by .10 which is .10% faster than the old record.
Now. Admittedly, one can race the 110 hurdles a lot more than the 800. Not counting heats, Merritt ran the 110 hurdles 14 times and he put up a time that would have made him top 10 all-time prior to this year in 7 of those races or 50% of the time.
Rudisha only raced 7 times not counting heats and thus he put up what would have been a top-10 time, 57.1% of the time.
I'm not saying Rudisha didn't derve it. He ran a world record - WITH NO RABBITTS - on the biggest stage and thus he probably deserves it. The no rabbit part is so refreshing and old-school that he basically cinched the award right there.
But given the fact that Merritt brought down the world record by .54%, I think he deserves some major props. If he'd gotten the world record himself at the Olympics, we'd say he'd have had to be the TFN AOY.
Even if you go back to the old world record of 1:41.11 of Wilson Kipketer, David Rudisha has brought the 800 world record by a total of .20% as compared to Merritt's .54%.