Everyone knows that athletics is a global sport, but this year’s World Championships showed that once again. The IAAF has 215 member federations and 66 countries produced a top 8 finish in London. That includes multiple countries from each continent. But among those countries there were some clear winners and losers.
To assess how the countries competed at the World Championships, Nick Garcia and I scored out the meet like a team competition, using the American-style scoring system of 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 points for the top eight places respectively. The IAAF has their own separate point table, but it does not give any extra bonus to the top places and does not break down by event. Using our point table you get a clear picture of which countries were hot, and which were not. You can scroll down to the end to see our complete rankings. But first we have some highlights.
America showed that Rio was not a fluke with another 30 medal performance. While there were some disappointments, they also had new athletes step up and score unexpected points. Along with Great Britain and France., Americans had one of the most balanced teams with champions in nearly every event group. In addition, they showed their recent success in the distance races is still on an upward trajectory. While Kenya still retained the top distance ranking, America closed the gap on Ethiopia for second.
Poland was one of the big surprises of the World Championships. With eight medals, Poland ranked behind only the United States and Kenya in that metric. Using our point table, they also ranked fifth overall. The key driver for Poland has been the throwing events. They overtook Germany and America, the top throwing countries in Rio, to rank as the best throws nation at this World Championships, sending multiple throwers to the final in four of the throwing events. But their results were not limited to the throws. They produced success stories across all event groups.
Russian athletes competed under the Authorized Neutral Athletes banner in Rio and ranked just 10th overall in points. While this is historically low, it still counts as a victory for the athletes who have been banned for the last two years and fought hard to distance themselves from the actions of their federation. They have reassembled as a small but strong team ready to move Russia athletics forward. In fact, the smaller squad scored comparable points to the full team Russia sent two years ago.
As Nick discussed on our podcast this week, most commentators said Jamaica’s sprint dominance was here to stay over the past few years. But as with Usain Bolt, Jamaica has lost its edge and they were miles behind the US in London . Usain Bolt’s bronze was their only medal in the individual sprint races. The relays added just one more. While they still produced incredibly strong results for a country of less than 3 million citizens, they were not the sprint powerhouse we have come to know in recent years. The bright side for Jamaica is that they produced multiple finalists in non-traditional events like the discus and 5000 meters.
Germany and Canada
The two countries most affected by the norovirus outbreak saw their points drop significantly. While that is not the sole cause, it likely played a role. Canada took home eight medals two years ago, and had none this time around. Germany lost its spot as the top throwing country , which contributed to a large drop off of points.
Ukraine and Belarus
Both former Soviet countries have strong athletic traditions, but were essentially non factors in London. Ukraine took home just one medal and Belarus none. Overall Ukraine ranked 30th in points, with Belarus further back in 45th. Both countries have relied on strong field events in the past and they just did not produce results this time around. Added to their was a drop off in the other events where they have both had medalists in the sprints, hurdles, and multi events. When Russia got banned many commentators asked why the IAAF wasn’t looking at cleaning up doping practices worldwide and also looking at other perennial offenders like Ukraine and Belarus. While neither country was directly under the microscope, the renewed focus on doping may be one reason for the poor showing in London.
Craig Pickering gave a detailed break down of the IAAF data release for the men’s 100 meter final and analyzed why Usain Bolt lost the final. Also on this week’s HMMR Podcast, Nick Garcia and I look back at the World Championships:
Complete Points Table
|Overall Rank||Country||Total Points||Sprints & Hurdles||Distances||Field Events|