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). 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, though it is noticeable that the events open to women has greatly increased over the last 40 years.

Here are the marks for women’s track events.

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

100m

Apart from having the world’s fastest 100m runner, the UK can boast good depth with the top 10 equalling 2008 for the best year ever.

That year was an Olympic year and benefitted from optimum conditions at Loughborough where Montell Douglas surprisingly broke the British record with an 11.05.

This year the 30th and 50th marks are slightly down on last year but there is no doubt that British women’s sprinting is at a high level.

            10th       30th
1978     11.71    12.24
1988     11.72    12.06
1998     11.71    12.03
2008     11.41    11.90
2017     11.45    11.70
2018     11.41    11.76

200m

Again 10th was up on last year though 30th was down but again the standard was excellent and well in advance of our sample from the past and 50th was a record 24.36.

In 1998, it was a notable how many in the top 30 were from different events such as pole vaulter Janine Whitlock and long jumper Jade Johnson.

Ellena Ruddock, then aged 22 and ranked 11th at 23.94, is now Britain’s top W40 100m runner.

             10th       30th
1978     23.61    24.91
1988     23.91    24.43
1998     23.93    24.37
2008     23.42    24.27
2017     23.42    24.03
2018     23.37    24.06

400m

Though down on last year, which saw record depth, the overall strength is still well up on the more distant past though less impressive at the very top.

Back in 1978, Commonwealth champion Donna Hartley was top ranked at 51.2 which is very similar to this year’s top two Anyika Onuora (51.13) and Laviai Nielsen (51.21) though the top three from 1998 – Alison Curbishley (50.71), Donna Fraser (50.85) and Katharine Merry (51.02) – were all faster than this year.

           10th       30th
1978    54.0      55.7
1988     53.57    55.0
1998     53.79    55.32
2008     53.11    54.99
2017     52.60    54.03
2018     52.74    54.31

100m hurdles

With last year’s top two Tiffany Porter and Cindy Ofili absent for much of the year, the standard right up front was disappointing in 2018 and the depth a little down on last year’s record levels.

Sally Gunnell, by then more proficient at 400m hurdles, topped the rankings back in 1988 and the then second fastest Lesley-Ann Skeete’s 13.19 matched this year’s No.2.

             10th       30th
1978     13.99    14.93
1988     13.68    14.66
1998     13.73    14.42
2008     13.68    14.25
2017     13.47    13.94
2018     13.51    14.14

400m hurdles

While down at 10th best on last year, the 61.33 at 30th was more encouraging but surprisingly down on 1988 and almost identical at 10th on 30 years ago.

Just missing 30th with 61.04 in 1988 was the then Gowry Varadukumar who as Retchakan topped 1998 with her Commonwealth silver medal run of 55.25 which put her ahead of future Olympic medallist Natasha Danvers.

             10th       30th
1978     60.5      62.7
1988     58.60    60.9
1998     59.07    62.2
2008     58.84    62.4
2017     58.33    61.5
2018     58.59    61.33

800m

There was little change from last year but depth was again excellent and very similar to Olympic year 2008.

Back then Lynsey Sharp, who on the merit rankings has been British No.1 the last five years, was ranked 16th with 2:04.44 while another then junior Laura Weightman was 50th (2:08.20).

Five athletes broke two minutes this year compared to three last year and in 2008 when Marilyn Okoro was top on 1:58.45 and 1988 when Diane Modahl (1:59.66) was top. The latter was also top in 1998 (1:58.81).

             10th       30th
1978     2:03.7   2:07.9
1988     2:03.49  2:07.6
1998     2:04.98  2:08.58
2008     2:01.78  2:05.7
2017     2:02.09  2:05.81
2018     2:02.02  2:05.85

1500m

European medallists Laura Muir and Laura Weightman led unprecedented depth with a superb 4:07.69 only good enough for 10th.

At 30th and 50th it was down on last year’s heights.

Back in 1978 Penny Yule, who is now of Britain’s top W65 runners, was ranked fourth with 4:10.3 while AW publisher Wendy Sly was ninth with 4:13.4. The latter was 10th in 1988 where the rankings were headed by Olympic finalists Christina Cahill (4:00.64) and Shireen Bailey (4:02.32).

             10th       30th
1978     4:14.6   4:22.8
1988     4:12.72  4:22.9
1998     4:18.17  4:23.5
2008     4:11.29  4:20.83
2017     4:09.52  4:16.32
2018     4:07.69  4:17.51

5000m

Back in 1978, the 5000m was not available to women and even in 1988, there were not enough times within standard for a top 30.

Even so, 30 years ago the three inside 15:18 is marginally up on this year and the rankings were headed by Liz McColgan, whose daughter Eilish of course tops 2018.

This year the 10th and 30th are a little down on the heights of 2017 but the 50th best of 16:36.07 is an all-time record.

            10th       30th
1978      –           –
1988     16:19.93            –
1998     15:57.45            16:50.8
2008     16:04.65            16:40.1
2017     15:37.90            16:12.07
2018     15:41.11            16:17.35

10,000m

As per the 5000m, 25 laps was not a serious option 40 year ago and there was a lack of depth in 1988 and 1998.

The top two in 1988 though – Liz McColgan (31:06.99) and Sly (31:53.36) – were much faster than anyone this year while the third, Susan Tooby (32:20.95), is now better known as Jake Wightman’s mother!

While the depth again did not quite match the record levels of last year and was down at the very front, it was still very good thanks to the Highgate Night of the 10,000m PBs.

            10th       30th
1978      –           –
1988     34:52.5  –
1998     34:38.11            –
2008     34:55.84            39:36.77
2017     32:51.38            35:27.66
2018     32:52.85            35:42.01

3000m steeplechase

The standard is up on last year – and significantly so at 30th – but disappointing that only four broke 10 minutes compared to five in 2008 when the rankings were headed by Helen Clitheroe’s 9:29.14.

Lennie Waite ranked in the top 10 in both 2008 and 2018 while the then junior Eilish McColgan ranked 11th on 10:52.13.

This is an even newer track event than the 5000m and 10,000m and even in 2008, 30 were not inside the rankings limit.

           10th       30th
1978     –           –
1988     –           –
1998     –           –
2008     10:48.55            12:42.61 (27)
2017     10:25.03            12:20.38
2018     10:21.72            11:32.68

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

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