Steve Smythe compares the latest athletics marks with standards from 2008, 1998, 1988 and 1978

In terms of rankings, Athletics Weekly has never published so many marks across all the age groups in one issue before (see our bumper December 20 magazine) but here we analyse senior 2018 performances and compare them with last year and 2008, 1998, 1988 and 1978 to see whether the standards are progressing as they should.

Now it’s the turn of the men’s field events.

See also: Men’s track events | Women’s track events | Women’s field events

High jump

Robbie Grabarz retired after the Commonwealth Games but was still Britain’s best as standards picked up from last year, though were identical below to 2008 and down in terms of top 30 on even 30 years ago where the rankings were headed by Dalton Grant and Geoff Parsons.

One encouraging aspect though is the number of younger jumpers headed by European under-18 champion Dominic Ogbechie’s 2.22m world age-15 best indoors.

            10th       30th
1978     2.10      2.00
1988     2.15      2.06
1998     2.15      2.07
2008     2.20      2.05
2017     2.16      2.05
2018     2.20      2.05

Pole vault

After the relative heights of 2017 with 10th at 5.26m, it plummeted to 5.06m this year which is the worst since 2009 and standards are generally down on even 20 years ago.

The top two in 1978, Brian Hooper (5.42m) and Keith Stock (5.25m), were to jump higher with British records in future years while fifth-ranked Allan Williams is now Britain’s-top ranked M65 40 years on.

             10th   30th
1978     4.60      4.20
1988     4.80      4.50
1998     5.16      4.70
2008     5.10      4.60
2017     5.26      4.75
2018     5.06      4.70

Long jump

Even with Greg Rutherford well off his best in his final season, there was not too much difference from last year in the rankings and while it is an event at 10th and 30th that’s not notably deteriorating, there certainly is stagnation from 1988 with a few centimetres down in both comparisons between now and 30 years ago.

40 years ago Olympic decathlon champion to be Daley Thompson headed the rankings with a 7.93m and windy 8.11m.

             10th   30th
1978     7.34      7.21
1988     7.66      7.30
1998     7.47      7.13
2008     7.47      7.17
2017     7.65      7.32
2018     7.63      7.28

Triple jump

The standard is a little down on last year but overall close to the same level as usual as top ranked Nathan Douglas, who was third in 2008, is still going strong.

Further back the standard is disappointing with 30th only just up on 40 years ago.

While it is an event that Britain has excelled in, the depth has never been notable. Even when Jonathan Edwards jumped 18.01m in 1998, 15.79m still got you in the first 10 which was marginally bettered this year.

            10th   30th
1978    15.25    14.67
1988     15.90    15.02
1998     15.79    14.90
2008     15.39    14.63
2017     15.91    14.93
2018     15.82    14.72

Shot

The 10th best mark was marginally better than last year, which was just up on 2016 (the worst since 1963) but still the standard is worrying up front, in the middle and further down.

Scott Lincoln was a metre up on anyone else this year but well over a metre down on what Geoff Capes threw 40 years ago (20.68m) which was a metre down on his eventual PB in 1980.

             10th       30th
1978     16.53    14.86
1988     17.04    15.58
1998     16.71    14.73
2008     16.44    14.94
2017     15.75    14.56
2018     16.00    14.54

Discus

It was not a classic season though 10th at 56.06m courtesy of New Zealand-based Alex Parkinson (his only known throw) actually tops our sample though next was 53.74m which would have been the worst since 2007.

The 30th best of 46.31m is just down on 1978.

Three were over 60 metres this year which doesn’t compare with the seven in 1998 but then they were headed by Perris Wilkins’ 66.64m, who later had marks disqualified for being short weighted. He received a life ban in 2003 for two doping offences but still competes now and was the 10th ranked M50 this year.

             10th   30th
1978     53.16    46.32
1988     54.34    48.18
1998     54.20    46.68
2008     54.12    47.34
2017    55.29    45.74
2018     56.06    46.31

Hammer

Up front Nick Miller’s 80.26m broke new ground and there are three under-23s or under-20s in the top six and eight at 70m but otherwise the standard is a little down on last year at both 10th and 30th. The standard grew notably from 1978 to 1988 and 1998 but the depth further back has levelled off and now dropped and in the lower part of the ranking was the worst for 38 years.

Back in 1978, Warwick Dixon ranked in the top 100 and this year he ranks third in the M80 hammer but top of the discus.

             10th   30th
1978     58.26    51.08
1988     63.12    55.50
1998     64.64    57.99
2008     64.29    57.15
2017     68.86    57.85
2018     68.23    56.61

Javelin

The newer specifications (introduced in 1986) means comparisons aren’t fair anyway but there is doubt the quality was at a different level in the past. In 1988, the top five were at 79.50m or over including junior Steve Backley who was throwing 89.89m and was European champion in 1998 while two others were at 85.67m or better.

World junior champion David Parker ranked seventh with 75.21m which was a fraction below the top this year of 75.27m.

The 10th mark is at least marginally up on last year but the 30th is just 60.35m and the 50th best of 56.08m is the worst ever with the current javelin.

             10th       30th
1978     72.62    64.76
1988     72.58    64.38
1998     71.14    62.97
2008     70.80    63.05
2017     67.97    61.45
2018     68.69    60.35

Decathlon

The standards are up on last year’s low but well down on the 30th mark of 30 and 40 years ago.

Obviously Olympic and world champion and world record-holder Daley Thompson was top in both those years and this year his son Elliot is ranked ninth. Encouragingly, he is one of five under-23s in the top 10 and 16 of the top 30.

             10th   30th
1978     6990     6082
1988     6950     6206
1998     6696     5875
2008     7016     5735
2017     7065     5628
2018     7089     5825

» See the current 112-page double issue of AW for more end-of-year statistics

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