Track & Field News Rankings
The Track & Field News World Rankings, the definitive work on the subject for almost 70 years, are coordinated by T&FN Editor E. Garry Hill. Current members of the international Rankings team are Nejat Kök, Dave Johnson, Richard Hymans & Jonathan Berenbom.
The first-ever Rankings, for the ‘47 season (men only), were the brainchild of T&FN cofounder Cordner Nelson. The next year he handed the task off to stat legends R.L. Quercetani & Don Potts, who shepherded the project for the next three decades.
In ’56, Czechoslovakia’s Jan Popper began parallel women’s Rankings; these were folded into the T&FN family in the early ’80s.
Special thanks to Jim Rorick for his assistance with the ongoing maintenance of the Rankings, both World and U.S.
The U.S. Rankings began with the 1963 season, but you will note that there are partial Rankings for years before that, where we have simply ported over all Americans who were in the World Rankings. The ’63 Rankings are sometimes not 10-deep because in first year resident non-Americans were included.
The whole purpose of our World Rankings is to establish relative merit for the single season in question. They are not reflective of how the compilers felt athletes would have finished in any kind of idealized competition. Ergo, the “best” athlete in any given year isn’t always No. 1.
It should be noted that the importance of a meet is relative to who competes in it, not how much stock an athlete or their fans might place in it.
As important as major meets are, we should also note that no competition, not even the Olympic Games or World Championships, is the be-all, end-all. We’re looking for people who maintain high standards over a whole year.
The Rankings are based on these 3 criteria, in descending order of importance: 1. Honors Won; 2. Head-To-Head records with other athletes; 3. Sequence Of Marks.