IN A TIGHT-TIGHT DECISION which even found one member of our panel lobbying for a tie, Yomif Kejelcha has been chosen as our ’19 Men’s Indoor Athlete Of The Year over Samuel Tefera. In a battle of recordsetting Ethiopian milers, Tefera won the battle but Kejelcha won the war.
Tefera, still just 19, took their single head-to-head meeting, setting a World Record 3:31.04 in Birmingham as Kejelcha, 21, moved to No. 3 on the all-time list at 3:31.58. That was Kejelcha’s only loss of the season, while Tefera subsequently went on to suffer a defeat at the hands of another teenager, Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen.
Prior to their head-to-head, Kejelcha had missed the mile WR by an excruciating 0.01 at Millrose. He wrapped up his season in a planned record attempt in Boston, being successful with his 3:47.01. “Finally! I can’t imagine a better way to complete this indoor season,” he said.
Statisticians compare 1500 and mile times with a multiplier of 1.08, which produces a 3:47.93 equivalent for Tefera’s 3:31.04m. Using that rubric, overall Kejelcha’s marks would be Nos. 1, 5 & 6 on an all-time list, with Tefera owning just No. 2. All of which added up to our narrow nod to Kejelcha.
Honorable Mention: hurdler Grant Holloway (US), middle-distance runner Donavan Brazier (US), putter Ryan Crouser (US) and vaulters Sam Kendricks (US) & Piotr Lisek (Poland). Holloway’s American Record 7.35 in the hurdles moved him to No. 3 on the all-time list and he also had a significant impact on the yearly 60 and LJ lists. Holloway set a “World Record” in the little-run 600 (1:13.77) and moved to No. 5 on the all-time 800 list at 1;44.41. Crouser’s 73-3¼ (22.33) moved him to No. 4 on the all-time list (with the No. 4 performance) and he also produced the No. 10 performance ever, 72-10¾ (22.22). Co-world leaders Kendricks and Lisek ended up at 19-5½ (5.93) and split their 6 meetings 3-3.