The other day I posted an analysis of Asafa Powell’s statistical dominance in terms of quantity of high-level performance. He is the most prolific sprinter in terms of sub-10.00 clockings, now sitting at 71.
In order to make some kind of comparison, I looked at the 500 best marks in history in all the standard events (there have been 516 sub-10s), and Powell’s number is actually pretty good. Only two other men dominate a running event to the degree that Powell does, those being Allen Johnson and Colin Jackson, both in the 110 meter hurdles.
I had some requests to do a similar analysis of women’s events, and the results of that are below. At first I was a bit reluctant. Most of the world records in women’s events date back to the 80s, when “doping control” was as much a contradiction in terms as “jumbo shrimp” or “military efficiency”, and I presumed the names that came up most often would be ones we’d rather forget.
The unpleasantness that is the Marion Jones era does pop up right in the first event. Remarkably, though, the majority of athletes on the list are modern ones. Notable exceptions to this are the shot put and the discus. For example, of the all-time top 500 shot put performances, only ten were recorded after 1992 (of which four were by athletes who subsequently served doping bans).
Two athletes in particular stand out: Merlene Ottey and Heike Drechsler.
Ottey first competed on the international stage in 1979 and will likely run on Slovenia’s 4