Sunday, September 19, 2010

Top 5, Greatest of All TIme

I had an interviewer recently ask me a question that I really could not answer, which is a first I must say. I was asked "Who is on my list of top five 110 hurdlers of all time?" I really didn't have an answer. I know who I feel are number one and two, but I felt like I needed to do more research and find out who I could fill my list out with.

After doing my history project, I decided that my top five list would consist of these five great individuals:

#5 Greg Foster
Foster was never one of the fastest hurdlers ever timewise, never held the World or American record, but his championship record is simply amazing. He won three consecutive World Championship titles during an era when they were held once ever four years, contrast that to today where we have them every two years. That's 12 years of dominance at the Championship level. He very well could have had six World titles if he ran under our current system. He also has an Olympic silver medal to his credit as well as 11 U.S.A. championship titles.

#4 Liu Xiang
Former World Record holder at 12.88 and 12.91 seconds. He won the 2004 Olympic gold medal in a equal world and Games record of 12.91 and won the 2007 World Championship title in a phenomenal performance, winning out of lane eight. He has run down other hurdlers running all-time great times of 12.90 (Arnold, Lausanne '06), 12.95 (Trammell, NY '07) and 12.99 (Trammell, WC '07), simply amazing. I don't think anyone has done that before. You know if he touches down over ten close to you, he will win. If he's able to return to form, he could easily ascend this list.

#3 Colin Jackson
He held the World Record of 12.91 solely from 1993 to 2004. He won four World Championship medals, two of them gold ('93 and '99) as well as an Olympic silver in 1988. In my opinon, Jackson's biggest accomplishment was he went 32 straight outdoor races without taking a loss! That is major. He also holds the world indoor record and is a legit flat sprinter. His career longevity is another reason he's high up on the list.

#2 Roger Kingdom
This is the one and only guy that I watch film on to try to better myself. I watch races of every hurdler, but to me, it never made sense to try to emulate an Allen Johnson or Terrance Trammell or Colin Jackson because I don't posses the same skill set or style as those guys, but in Kingdom, I have always seen a guy that reminded me of myself.

He's at the number two slot because these stats don't lie: Two time Olympic gold medalist ('84, '88), held the world record from '89-'93 and his name was listed as the American record holder either solely or jointly from '89 all the way until 2006! He also was the first man to run under 13 seconds at the Olympic Games. In 1988, he also had an undefeated season. Those two Olympic Gold medals is what puts him near the top for me. Winning the most important event of our sport twice is a feat that hadn't happened since Lee Calhoun 20 years prior and hasn't been seen since.

#1 Allen Johnson

I did a blog post on Allen when he announced his retirement back in July. I said it then and I'll say it again, he is the G.O.A.T. in my opinion. An Olympic gold medal, four World Championship gold medals, countless U.S.A titles, it goes on and on. He has the record for the most sub 13 performances with 11 as well. Although he never held the World Record like the previous four individuals he's listed ahead of, I think titles and wins are greater than a solo performance.

When I was trying to compile this list, I tried to get Dayron Robles and Renaldo Nehemiah on my list because they are greats as well. Nehemiah going to play in the NFL cut out his best years or he no doubt would have been in the top three easily I'm sure, I rank him number seven.

Robles is the current World Record holder and defending Olympic champion. He also is second on the list of sub-13 performances with eight. He accomplished all eight in a period from World Athletic Final in 2007 to Zurich in 2008. He only misses this list due to the fact that his career is essentially based off the 2008 season, which in my opinon is the greatest season in 110 hurdles history but Foster and Liu have displayed dominance over multitude of years. Once he displays the durability and longevity, he'll no doubt be on the list, right now he's holding down the number six spot.

I personally feel like I'm in the top 20 somewhere, of course I'm biased lol. I'll have to do some deep research to figure out for sure.

I think I will start a little top five segment on the blog regarding different aspects of the hurdles.


gcheves said...

Nehemiah's years of competition were cut short by the dispute with the Track Athletic Congress (TAC), the former name of the USATF, over the Superstars competition earnings and his "amateur status," but his years in competition were quality. Aside from his achievements on the track, we need to thank him for fighting for the rights of the athletes to earn a living. Nehemiah's collegiate record of 13.00 has yet to be challenged after more than 30 years - a record he set as a sophomore. In my opinion, he's number one with a bullet.

Aunt Celest said...

Very informative information from you and gcheves. Thanks for both insights.

David Oliver said...

gcheves, I have the utmost respect for Skeets career and the times he posted weren't approached for quite a long time. He was definitely ahead of his time, being the first to go under 13 seconds is up there as his greatest achievement. Unfortunately his sample size is too small to place him ahead of these guys and he didn't win anything of note due to several factors, a couple outside of his own control. I didn't factor in anything from college either.

If you follow my blog, you know my feelings that winning is greater than any time you can run, unfortunately he didn't win much.

Who would you take off the list to put him on?

Tee Reese said...

Thumbs up on your Top 5!

No arguments here! Now all we need is for Hecu'D.O. to keep this runaway train of sub 13s crashing through 2011/ 2012! Choo Choo!

That's right you're moving quickly up my list of FAVES!

Ty said...

Love this post. Explains alot for me. That is all :)

Anonymous said...

D.O. - Good list...however, Skeets must be in the top 3 easily. Sure, the stats don't lie, but you have to look at the fact that he moved the WR from 13.24 to 12.93! He wasn't simply the first guy to break the 13.00 barrier, he was the first to break 13.2, 13.1, and 13.00 legally. In fact, he almost broke the 12.9 barrier, too. Actually, he supposedly ran mid 12.8s in a race in Jamaica (ask Brooks about that, he should know). In total, indoor and outdoor he set over 10 WRs!

Basically, he shifted the bar for everyone in the event and no one has come close to making the quantum impact he did.

You also have to remember the eras and climate he competed in. He was the top hurdler in 1980 and made the US team when there was a boycott. Sure, he didn't win the OG, but you have to consider that he was almost certain to have (yes, not the same, but politics not competition was the deciding factor). Plus he was out of the sport by the time WC's came into being.

You know I respect you guys, but think about it...he's a guy who ran on tracks in the late 70's/early 80's and only a handful of you guys with the top physios, special shoes, ultra-fast tracks, etc. have surpassed that mark. And to imagine that he left the sport in his prime is bananas!

Ain't no way he could only be #7. I'm sorry, bro. No way. You're a product of the people he pulled to the next level. I know you're a student of the game, but there's a reason why guys like Bo Jackson are revered, by "older folk" even though their "pro-careers" were short and apparently less accomplished than others who stuck around for longer. Special considerations have to be given to "freaks" who utterly boggle the mind. Not one on your top 5 did that. AJ is my boy, and arguably #1, but in no way did AJ set the bar for the modern hurdler. Nor did Roger or Colin or Lui Xiang. On today's tracks, Skeets would clearly have been a 12.8/12.7 runner without doubt.

That's my 4 cents...


Anonymous said...

I always inspired by you, your views and way of thinking, again, thanks for this nice post.

- Norman

Bill Cochran said...

It's definitely a tough list to compile. Not sure really who you take off, but Skeets has gotta be there.
And might I add, you sir, are on your way of knocking one MORE person off the top 5.

Anonymous said...

There is no way you can be well versed in the history of the 110s and not put Skeets in the top 2 or 3. (I would put him 1 myself). You are knocking on the door yourself, but Nehemiah in his prime was head and shoulders above others, a true barrier breaker. I mean come on, in 30 years, his record has only been lowered 0.06! I think he would have run a 12.7x if he had stayed in the sport. And actually he was in it for quite a while.

Claude said...

David, I've known you for some time and it never ceases to amaze me how thoughtful you've become. With that said, I think you've put together a great list. I'm a Skeets fan. The Greg Foster and Skeets competition in the late
1970's made track and field fun! They were both superb sprinters, Greg having won the 1979 NCAA 200 Meter title. Skeets performance as the anchor of the University of Maryland's relay teams at the 1979 Penns are and will be talked about forever. That said, before you can name a "GOAT," have you every heard the names Lee Calhoun? Or Harrison Dillard? Lee was the first hurdler to win two Olympic 110 titles. He wasnt the fastest, but was a superb technican. Harrison Dillard won an Olympic 100 meter title as well as a 110 title. Both Calhoun and Dillard were as dominate as Foster, Nehemiah or Jackson in their day. Also, ever hear the name Jerry Tarr? Tarr went to the University or Oregon; he is the only male hurdler to do what Queen Harrison did this year at the NCAA: he won the 110 and 440IH (this was in the early 1960's). Jerry Tarr was a dominate hurdler who would have been the favorite in the 110s at the 1964 Olympics if he had been a FOOTBALL(!!!!)PLAYER! He signed with quess who? The Denver Broncos. Thus, all the athletes you named are very deserving of consideration if we must have a GOAT. However, like everything else, there is a time and place and depending how old you are and what you've experienced, determines your prospective. Anyway, congrats again on a great season.


Frank said...

I am a fan from David and would like to get an autograph. Where can I get the postal-adress from oliver? I wrote three mails to this Mr.Wessfeldt but did not get any answer.
Thank you

JC said...

I think back in my high school days I ran a 16.8 in the 120 yard high hurdles. Getting those three steps down in between the hurdles toward the end of a race was always hard for me.

I remember Nehemiah very well, he pretty much set the standard as the other comments state.

positive affirmation said...

those men are great..,

Anonymous said...

that was a pretty good top five david. but weres dayron robles? (lol)

Steffen said...

Dear Oliver!
In October I sent you a parcel with chocolate and request for autographs. I sent it to c/o Stina Funke in Malmö (Swedeen). Did you receive it?
Best wishes Steffen Haas

joy said...

congratulation,you may have not come home with all the medals but you mastered the seasons of life with a cup half full attitude.I'm sure you'll get them next year