Anita Włodarczyk Heads The Decade’s Top 10 World Women

3-time Athlete Of The Year Anita Włodarczyk was an easy choice as Athlete Of The Decade. (JIRO MOCHIZUKI/IMAGE OF SPORT)

UNLIKE THE MEN’S SIDE, where the choice was tough, our screening panel was unanimous in picking Anita Włodarczyk as the women’s AOD. The Polish hammer great was just that good as throwers went 1-2 in the ratings.

But first, some background on our decadenal musings: as with any choice based on a fixed number of years, luck plays a big part. Luck in the form of when your career started and/or ended. Although we had a basic rule of valuing quality over quantity, one who competed in all 10 years of the decade obviously had an advantage over another who competed in just one. The prime component in all choices was “honors won,” including Rankings places and finishes in Annual Athlete of The Year voting. Road racing other than the marathon was not considered; neither was cross country.

The Top 10 Women of the Teens:

1. Anita Włodarczyk (Poland)

To be sure, unlike other throwers, women’s hammer people don’t have to contend with the ghosts of old East Bloc marks, but Włodarczyk still dominates the landscape. Even if you take away her 4 World Records and overwhelming share of the all-time performances list, she still racked up 6 No. 1s (plus a 2-5-6), claimed both Olympic golds and a trio of WC golds… All that was enough to earn her a trio of No. 1s in AOY voting (’14, ’16 & ’17) plus a No. 2… Just for the record, her ATL dominance includes the 15 farthest meets of all time, topped by her WR 272-3 (82.98).

2. Sandra Perković (Croatia)

No other woman in the decade had more No. 1s than the discus great’s 7; she added a 2 and a 3 for good measure… Top 10 spots in AOY voting for her happened more often than not, her 6 appearances charting at 4-6-6-7-7-8… She stocked her medal chest well, with a pair of Olympic golds to go with 2 WC golds and a WC silver and bronze… Her PR 234-3 (71.41) from ’17 rates as the “new millennium WR.”… In the seasons from 2012 through ’18 she racked up 73 wins and only 7 defeats (a .913 batting average).

3. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Jamaica)

In the medals department the diminutive speedster was rather good at the Olympic level (100 gold & bronze; 200 silver) and really good at the WC plateau (4 golds in the 100, 1 gold in the 200)… Her PR century of 10.70—equalling the decade’s fastest time—moved her to =No. 4 on the all-time list… In the World Rankings department, she was in the top 5 in the 100 on 6 occasions (1-1-1-1-4-5) and made the half-lapper’s top 10 in 4 years (1-2-7-9)… Her AOY high was No. 2, with a pair of No. 6s.

4. Brittney Reese (US)

Almost incomprehensibly, the decade’s best long jumper never made it into the top 10 of AOY voting. She must have always been in the wrong place at the wrong time, because she claimed 10 World Ranking spots (6 No. 1s plus 3-4-7-10) and scooped up no fewer than 9 major medals, 7 of them gold (OG, 3 WC, 3 WIC) plus 2 silvers (OG, WIC)… Her best jump of 23-11¾ (7.31) moved her to =No. 9 on the all-time list

5. Caster Semenya (South Africa)

A controversial figure literally from the day she burst upon the scene, Semenya ended up basically ineligible for 800 competition as the last year of the decade unfolded. We took the stance that since she was never taking illegal drugs until new rules came into effect, she was a legitimate performer, and one good enough for No. 5… Her credentials included 4 major gold (2 OG, 2 WC) and the No. 4 time ever (plus Nos. 6 & 8)… The ’18 AOY also twice ranked in both the 400 and 1500 and ran the fastest 600 ever.

6. Valerie Adams (New Zealand)

The Kiwi putter was perhaps a bit under-appreciated in her time, her ’12 Oly silver being upgraded after the fact after the extensive purging of former Soviet-bloc miscreants… That gold was joined by silver, plus 2 WC golds, 3 WIC golds and 1 WIC bronze)… In the Rankings she chalked up 6 No. 1s, a No. 2 and a 6 and a 9… She was AOY in both ’12 and ’13 and also had a 2 and a 3.

7. Caterine Ibargüen (Colombia)

No fewer than 7 major medals came the top triple jumper’s way: 3 golds (1 OG, 2 WC), 2 silvers (1 OG, 1 WC) and 2 bronzes (WC)… She picked off 5 No. 1s (plus 2-2-3-4) in the World Rankings and moved to No. 6 on the all-time world list… In her one season seriously attacking the long jump she was rated No. 3… She was well represented in the AOY voting, her 5 appearances charting at 3-5-5-9-10.

8. Dalilah Muhammad (US)

Muhammad was cruising along with a nice career arc that had her contending for the spot as top 400 hurdler of the decade when the final season began. And just like that, not only did she claim No. 1, she also had a spectacular AOY year which propelled her into the overall Top 10 here. A pair of World Records can do that for you… All in all, she ended up with both OG and WC golds and added a pair of WC silvers for good measure.

9. Mariya Lasitskene (Russia)

From mid-2016 to mid-2018, Lasitskene formulated an amazing 45-meet win streak. She rarely lost in other years either… She stood on the top step of the podium at the WC 3 times and added an Indoor gold as well… Her 6-9 (2.06) best lifted her to =No. 7 on the all-time list… Her Rankings tally was 5 No. 1s and a No. 7. Scoring very well in AOY balloting she had a 2, a 4 and a 6… Lack of any Olympic credentials made it difficult for her to rate higher than 9.

10. Barbora Špotáková (Czech Republic)

Already the WR holder when the decade began, the Minnesota alum was the only member of our Top 10 not to PR, but she did produce the No. 3 performance ever… She was a monster in the World Rankings department, claiming 6 No. 1s (plus a 2 and a 9)… Medals? 3 golds (1 OG, 2 WC) and a bronze (OG).

Previous AOD Winners

We first started picking women’s by-decade stars after the ’70s. Our 4 winners since then:

The ’70s—Ruth Fuchs (East Germany)
The ’80s—Marita Koch (East Germany)
The ’90s—Marie-Josée Pérec (France)
The ‘00s—Yelena Isinbaeva (Russia) ◻︎