Stats show “2012 effect”

Inspired by the Olympics, British athletes smashed UK records galore and demonstrated all-time best levels in depth in some events this year

Ennis, Farah, Rutherford website

The number of British athletes in the world top 10 has trebled in the past six years.

According to statistics published in the latest issue of Athletics Weekly, there are 17 British athletes in the world top 10 this year in  a total of 19 different events. This compares to the 2006 season when only six Britons made the world top 10 in their event and no one at all was in the leading six.

Three British athletes have been ranked No.1 in the world in 2012: Mo Farah in the 5000m and 10,000m, Greg Rutherford in the long jump and Jessica Ennis in the heptathlon. In addition, Robbie Grabarz is world No.2 in the high jump and Christine Ohuruogu is third in the 400m.

The December 20 issue of Athletics Weekly is 116 pages and packed with statistics thanks to the Power of 10 (UK rankings) and tilastopaja.org (world rankings) but the most interesting sections are the world and UK merit rankings where athletes are positioned based on not only season’s bests but championship performances and head-to-heads with close rivals.

The international merit rankings have been produced by an Athletics International panel led by statistician Peter Matthews and former AW editor Mel Watman, while Matthews is the main architect of the UK merit rankings.

Internationally, the merit rankings kick off with Usain Bolt at the head of the 100m and 200m lists, but the Athletics International panel name David Rudisha and Allyson Felix as their athletes of the year.

The domestic merit rankings, meanwhile, illustrate how British athletes rose to the challenge of London 2012, with Matthews highlighting a number of events that feature all-time records when it comes to depth (for example, the 10th or 50th best performances).

These statistics also recognise the incredible longevity of some athletes, with Christian Malcolm and Marlon Devonish, for example, enjoying their 16th and 17th time in the UK top 12, while Lisa Kehler was No.2 in the UK women’s race walking merit rankings – completing an amazing 25 years in these lists.

It is not all good, though, as Matthews points to the worrying decline of some events like the women’s high jump in the UK. Also, despite Britain boasting the Olympic champion in the men’s 10,000m, he says the event “scarcely exists any more in Britain with just four performances (from one race) in the country this year by all those ranked”.

» AW’s 116-page stats special is out today, Thursday December 20

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