World Men’s Athlete Of The Year — Eliud Kipchoge

Marathoner Eliud Kipchoge was money indeed in 2018. (MARK SHEARMAN)

Voting by our 31-member international panel in this annual exercise—our 60th year of choosing a Men’s Athlete Of The Year—was scored on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Voters are required to respect the order of our World Rankings in casting their votes. Any ballot that doesn’t follow the norms as established by their peers (for example, one as obvious as skipping Eliud Kipchoge entirely) is discarded. Only 2 of last year’s Top 10 were able to score again. The Top 10:

1. Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya)

In a year where Kipchoge achieved all kinds of firsts, add another one: the first marathoner ever to become AOY (Khalid Khannouchi was No. 2 in ’02). This is the fifth year in a row in the Top 10 for the tireless 33-year-old, who in ’14 through ’17 rated 9-9-4-8. He collected 21 of the votes for No. 1. Back in his track days, he was No. 14 in the voting after winning the ’03 WC 5000 gold in Paris… This year he set the World Record in Berlin (2:01:39), of course, after earlier having won the year’s most competitive race, London (2:04:17). That was his entire racing season, but it was enough.

2. Abderrahmane Samba (Qatar)

When Kevin Young set the World Record in the 400H at the ’92 Olympics, Samba was still 3 years away from being born. Now the 23-year-old Qatari has become the second man ever to break 47, his 46.98 in Paris leaving him just 0.20 shy of the all-time best. The voters responded by giving him the second-best collection of votes for No. 1 (8) as he was a solid runner-up… Undefeated in 9 races (the slowest of them at 47.90), he dominated the yearly list, producing performances 1, 3–6, 8 & =9.

3. Kevin Mayer (France)

If the decathlon’s WR holder is the “Greatest Athlete On Earth,” meet the great Kevin Mayer, who at 26 took down Ashton Eaton’s global standard for the 10-eventer, his 9126 making him the first to crack the 9100-point barrier… Mayer, who earned the other 2 votes for No. 1, may well have challenged for the runner-up spot had he not DNFed in the European Championships. His having only a single result on the year caused some voters to downgrade him, or—in 2 instances—even leave him off their ballots altogether.

4. Noah Lyles (US)

The year’s best combination sprinter was rated No. 1 in the 200 and No. 3 in the 100. His reward in his Top 10 debut was the No. 4 spot overall and selection as U.S. Athlete Of The Year… In the half-lapper, his undefeated 5-race sequence of 19.83, 19.69, 19.69, 19.65, 19.67 put him in territory only Usain Bolt had previously matched for consistency. The 21-year-old Virginian had the year’s 4 fastest times and the best of them lifted him to =No. 8 on the all-time world list… He wasn’t as brilliant in the century, but did join the sub-10 and sub-9.9 clubs and won the USATF title with his PR of 9.88.

5. Tom Walsh (New Zealand)

The world’s top putter moved into the Kiwi elite when he joined Peter Snell and John Walker (both of whom claimed AOY titles back in the day) as the only ones from their nation to make the Top 10… Walsh’s list-leading 74-4½ (22.67) moved him to No. 5 on the all-time world list (with the No. 9 performance ever) and overall he had 3 of the year’s 5 farthest throws… The powerful 26-year-old is the first putter to crack the top 5 since Adam Nelson did it with a No. 5 in ’02.

6. Emmanuel Korir (Kenya)

The apparent successor to WR holder David Rudisha as the world’s top 2-lapper, the 23-year-old UTEP alum earned his first 800 No. 1 and his first Top 10 position… Korir suffered only one controversial loss all year and his list-leading 1:42.05 moved him to No. 6 on the all-time world list… He also displayed amazing speed for an 800 specialist, running 44.21 at high altitude and 44.52 at sea-level in his only two tries at the event.

7. Sergey Shubenkov (Russia)

The first Russian hurdler ever to end up in the Top 10, the 27-year-old Shubenkov was dominant. He ended up with the year’s 7 fastest times, his list-leading 12.92 moving him to =No. 8 on the all-time list, with all-time performance =12… The only hurdler to break 13 on the year, he did it 4 times, running 12.95, 12.97 and 12.99 in addition to his list leader.

8. Juan Miguel Echevarría (Cuba)

Adding almost 2-feet to your long jump PR can go a long way towards garnering you AOY votes, particularly when you were a 27-footer to begin with. Still a teenager when his season was ended prematurely by injury, his farthest jump was 28-11¾w (8.83), a mark only 5 others have ever bettered under all conditions. His legal best, 28-5¾ (8.68), lifted him to No. 11 on the all-time list.

9. Timothy Cheruiyot (Kenya)

Cheruiyot, just 22, emerged as the world’s top miler, going undefeated in Diamond League competition. Twice he broke 3:30 in the 1500, his yearly leader of 3:28.41 moving him to No. 7 on the all-time world list. He also had the fastest outdoor mile of the year, 3:49.87. His series of DL-race times was quite spectacular: 3:31.48, 3:49.87y, 3:31.22, 3:29.71, 3:28.41, 3:30.27.

10. Mutaz Barshim (Qatar)

The reigning AOY was another who had his season cut short by injury (in the first week of July), but he was so good before that that he was an easy No. 1 and a solid choice here. Twice he jumped a world-leading 7-10½ (2.40) and he had 4 of the 5 highest jumps of the year… The 27-year-old Qatari has now made the Top 10 on 3 occasions, with his first being a No. 4 in ’14.

 

The Voting Chart

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Tot. %
1. Eliud Kipchoge 21 9 1 299 96.5%
2. Abderrahmane Samba 8 15 7 1 278 89.7%
3. Kevin Mayer 2 6 10 4 4 1 1 1 215 69.4%
4. Noah Lyles 1 7 11 4 2 3 1 2 195 62.9%
5. Tom Walsh 3 6 8 3 4 1 1 2 152 49.0%
6. Emmanuel Korir 1 6 8 2 2 1 4 103 33.2%
7. Sergey Shubenkov 2 1 1 3 6 5 4 5 96 31.0%
8. Juan Miguel Echevarría 2 4 3 6 1 5 4 94 30.3%
9. Timothy Cheruiyot 1 2 4 4 9 2 3 90 29.0%
10. Mutaz Barshim 3 1 3 2 2 5 2 68 21.9%
11. Christian Coleman 31; 12. Fedrick Dacres 24; 13. Wojciech Nowicki 14; 14. Conseslus Kipruto 13; 15. tie, Andreas Hofmann & Sam Kendricks 10; 17. Luvo Manyonga 9; 18. Rai Benjamin 4.
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