Sunday, January 13, 2013

Rudisha Wins Top Honor

Track & Field News magazine just came out with its selections for male and female Athletes of the Year. (Yes, I know this has nothing to do with the economy or the markets, but I love the sport of track and field, or athletics as the rest of the world calls it, as much as I love investing.) On the men's side, they selected David Rudisha of Kenya. I could not agree more. Readers may recall that I said in my July 31, 2012 post that if I had to bet on just one athlete to win a gold medal in the London Olympics, Rudisha would be the man.

Not only did he win that gold medal, he also broke his own world record in the process, setting a new record in the remarkable time of 1:40.91. In fact, Rudisha ran a flawless race, leading from start to finish. He went through the opening 400 meters in under 50 seconds, an absolutely blistering pace. Anyone who has ever run a lap on a track knows how difficult it is to break 50 seconds. Imagine having to immediately follow that with a second lap at about the same pace.

Rudisha's selection was somewhat controversial. I know some track fans would have preferred Usain Bolt (who won three gold medals in London), Ashton Eaton (who dominated the Decathlon), or Mo Farah (who won both the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters, a grueling combination). They are all outstanding athletes. It is a difficult choice, yet Rudisha deserves the honor. As Track & Field News Editor Gary Hill explained, "Voting members are big on individual achievement." In other words, they discount the relays and they pay a lot of attention to world records. Rudisha was the only top athlete to have an outstanding season and to win a gold medal and set a world record at the Olympic Games.

In fact, Rudisha has dominated the 800 meters for several years. This is the fourth year in a row he was given the top honor by Track & Field News. Yet the man turned 24 years old just last month. He has many great races ahead of him. The competition, however, is right on his heels. The silver medalist in London, Nijel Amos of Botswana finished only 0.82 seconds behind Rudisha. Amos was just 18 years old during the Games. The bronze medalist, Mohamed Aman of Ethiopia, was 20 years old during the Games. There are two additional top-ranked Kenyan two-lappers who are currently 18 years old. A third is only 19. This means the 800 meters is going to give track fans a lot to look forward to in coming years. I really don't think it will be long before someone runs the race in under 1:40, a barrier that not too long ago seemed impossible to break.

On the women's side, the magazine selected Valerie Adams, a shot putter from New Zealand. This decision was less controversial. Adams had an undefeated season and held 16 of the longest tosses of the year. Adams beat out British heptathlete Jessica Ennis, American sprinter Allyson Felix, and Australian hurdler Sally Pearson.

Thanks for bearing with me. I promise to get back to financial matters in the near future.

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