FROM THE EDITOR — And With The First Pick In The 2022 gh Draft…

WITH THE NFL DRAFT dominating sports news as April draws to a close the question came to me, “Who would be the No. 1 pick in an international track & field draft?”

First, let’s set the parameters for a 10-deep draft. This exercise is meant to pick the leading candidates for a gold medal at the World Championships in Eugene in July. It’s not affected by any other competitions to come. My handicapping is also based solely on a single event, so there’s no extra value assigned for competing in more than one discipline.

To give you an idea of how tough it is to earn a spot in my Top 10, consider some of the huge names who didn’t make the cut: AOY Elaine Thompson-Herah & Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (the two Jamaican sprint greats cancel each other out), Jakob Ingebrigtsen (C19 impacted him at the World Indoor), Grant Holloway (can he maintain his rhythm?) and Karsten Warholm (Rai Benjamin is that close on his heels).

And without further adieu, here’s my Top 10, in reverse order:

No. 10 — Anita Włodarczyk (Poland) hammer

She may be 36, but with a third Oly gold last year the WR holder remains a favorite for WC title No. 5. She has a record-tying 13 straight appearances in the World Rankings with a record 8 No. 1s…


No. 9 — Daniel Ståhl (Sweden) discus

The reigning WC and OG gold medalist, now 29, finished off his ’21 season with 17 straight wins. Started this year with 4 wins in 5 meets, suffering a narrow loss to Kristjan Čeh…


No. 8 — Steven Gardiner (Bahamas) 400

Although he races sparingly, the reigning WC/OG champion hasn’t lost a race he has finished since the ’17 WC in London. During that span he has recorded 5 sub-44s, topped by a 43.48 to win the ’19 WC in Doha. He’s still only 26…


No. 7 — Shaunae Miller-Uibo (Bahamas) 400

Twice the Olympic gold medalist, SMU is still looking for her first WC gold outdoors (she won indoors in March). She was the runner-up in ’15 & ’19. Short-sprint PRs of 10.98 and 21.74 make the 28-year-old tough to catch…


No. 6 — Ryan Crouser (US) shot

Last year the Oregon native had one of the greatest seasons his event had ever seen, claiming the WR indoors and out while unleashing an outlandish number of long throws. He was undefeated in 14 meets. How can the AOY be as low as No. 6 here? Blame a balky elbow that limited his indoor performances this winter and saw him relegated to silver at the World Indoor. Despite twice being the Olympic champion, the 29-year-old is still searching for his first WC win, indoors or out.


No. 5 — Damian Warner (Canada) decathlon

At 32 the oldest man in my Top 10, the versatile Canadian is just getting better. The reigning Olympic champ’s collection of WC deca medals incudes a silver and a pair of bronzes. Keeping him from a higher rating is the thought of a return to form by WR holder Kevin Mayer…


No. 4 — Johannes Vetter (Germany) javelin

How does an Olympic 9th-placer earn No. 4? By having a spectacular ’21 campaign with the flaky Tokyo runway not offsetting going undefeated in his other 16 meets. Almost up there with Crouser in the consistency department, he produced the year’s 14 farthest throws, topped by No. 3 ever, 315-11 (96.29)…


No. 3 — Sifan Hassan (Netherlands) 5K or 10K

If my protocol allowed for double-eventers, Hassan would be No. 1. As it is she twice earns No. 3, as she is that dominant in both the 5000 and 10,000, in each of which she won Tokyo gold. And let’s not forget the 1500, where she’s the reigning world champ. The 29-year-old Dutch star obviously has multiple options for Eugene fun and games…


No. 2 — Mondo Duplantis (Sweden) pole vault

Yes, Mondo really is still just 22, even if he has been vaulting with — and beating — the big boys for years now. He now has no fewer than 7 meets at 20ft (6.10) or better, including the WR (20-4/6.20). He’s clearly my top man, but he’s not my overall leader. And that leads us to (drum roll, please) my No. 1…


No. 1 — Yulimar Rojas (Venezuela) triple jump

What’s not to like about the only woman ever to crack the 51-foot barrier? The 26-year-old WR holder owns not only the farthest bound ever (51-7¾/15.74) but also the top 3 performances ever and 10 of 11. And she still has serious technique issues to work out. She could have a really horrid day in Eugene and still win by 2ft… ◻︎