Athlete form through 2016 has been assessed by an international panel of experts to create rankings based on merit

For the 18th year, Athletics International has collaborated with Athletics Weekly to produce an annual statistical review including world top-10 merit rankings

Compiled by an international panel of experts, the rankings will no doubt provoke discussion.

As usual the panel – featuring Athletics International co-editors Peter Matthews and Mel Watman, with Stan Greenberg and Stuart Mazdon (UK), Mirko Jalava (FIN), Alfons Juck (SVK), A Lennart Julin (SWE), Ed Gordon (USA) and for walks Elliott Denman (USA) – assessed the year’s records of the leading contenders and the ranking order was determined by consensus.

This year the Olympic Games provided the main focus followed for most events by the Diamond League (DL) and World Challenge meetings. As ever, the panel was concerned with the quality of athletes’ best marks, their consistency, and win-loss records against other ranked competitors.

Below we list the top three in each women’s event. The men’s international rankings can be found here, while UK merit rankings for men are here and the women’s are here. The full top-10 list for every event, including details of the athletes’ seasons, appear in the December 15 bumper 112-page end-of-year stats special, which is available to buy and read digitally here.

100m
1 Elaine Thompson (JAM)
2 Torie Bowie (USA)
3 Dafne Schippers (NED)

200m
1 Elaine Thompson (JAM)
2 Dafne Schippers (NED)
3 Torie Bowie (USA)

400m
1 Shaunae Miller (BAH)
2 Allyson Felix (USA)
3 Stephenie Ann McPherson (JAM)

800m
1 Caster Semenya (RSA)
2 Francine Niyonsaba (BDI)
3 Margaret Wambui (KEN)

1500m/one mile
1 Faith Kipyegon (KEN)
2= Genzebe Dibaba (ETH)
2= Laura Muir (GBR)

5000m
1 Almaz Ayana (ETH)
2 Vivian Cheruiyot (KEN)
3 Hellen Obiri (KEN)

10,000m
1 Almaz Ayana (ETH)
2 Vivian Cheruiyot (KEN)
3 Tirunesh Dibaba (ETH)

Marathon
1 Jemima Sumgong Jelagat (KEN)
2 Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa (BRN)
3 Florence Kiplagat (KEN)

3000m steeplechase
1 Ruth Jebet (BRN)
2 Hyvin Jepkemoi (KEN)
3 Emma Coburn (USA)

100m hurdles
1 Kendra Harrison (USA)
2 Brianna Rollins (USA)
3 Kristi Castlin (USA)

400m hurdles
1 Dalilah Muhammad (USA)
2 Sara Slott Petersen (DEN)
3 Ashley Spencer (USA)

High jump
1 Ruth Beitia (ESP)
2 Chaunte Lowe (USA)
3 Mirela Demireva (BUL)

Pole vault
1 Sandi Morris (USA)
2 Ekaterini Stefanidi (GRE)
3 Eliza McCartney (NZL)

Long jump
1 Brittney Reese (USA)
2 Ivana Spanović (SRB)
3 Tianna Bartoletta (USA)

Triple jump
1 Caterine Ibargüen (COL)
2 Yulimar Rojas (VEN)
3 Olga Rypakova (KAZ)

Shot
1 Michelle Carter (USA)
2 Valerie Adams (NZL)
3 Gong Lijiao (CHN)

Discus
1 Sandra Perkovic (CRO)
2 Mélina Robert-Michon (FRA)
3 Denia Caballero (CUB)

Hammer
1 Anita Wlodarczyk (POL)
2 Zhang Wenxiu (CHN)
3 Betty Heidler (GER)

Javelin
1= Vera Rebrik (RUS)
1= Sara Kolak (CRO)
3 Barbora Spotakova (CZE)

Heptathlon
1 Nafissatou Thiam (BEL)
2 Jessica Ennis-Hill (GBR)
3 Brianne Theisen-Eaton (CAN)

20km walk
1 Liu Hong (CHN)
2 María Guadeloupe González (MEX)
3 Lu Xiuzhi (CHN)

» For the full top-10 list for every event, including details of athletes’ seasons, see the December 15 stats special edition of Athletics Weekly, which is available to buy and read digitally here

» Peter Matthews and Mel Watman are joint editors of Athletics International. For more information on receiving the Athletics International newsletter email mel@gardencourt.fsnet.co.uk