This may come as a surprise as Usain Bolt was named IAAF Athlete of the Year and David Rudisha was the AOY for Track and Field News. Even when we asked this question on our Facebook page, the overwhelming majority nominated The King of the 800m - although people thought we were talking about LaShawn Merritt. It’s sort of ridiculous to nominate someone for athlete of the year, let alone win, when some people don’t even know him.
Before the pitchforks and torches are brought to the Flotrack windmill, let me explain. It’s not that Rudisha, Bolt, Farah, and Eaton didn’t have incredible seasons. Any other year, it would have been theirs for the taking.
But it wasn’t any other year. It wasn’t even their year - it was Merritt’s. The others may have given 100%, but the 110m hurdler gave 110%.
“What about Mo? He won double gold at the Olympics!” It’s been done seven times.
“Well Bolt won three golds and ran the 4th fastest time in 200m history! He’s the best sprinter of all time!” I know, but his bar is so high that when he runs 19.32 we say, “meh."
The only other person we considered was Eaton because of his two WRs and gold medals in the heptathlon and decathlon. This is unbelievable, but not quite 2012 AOY material.
The deal breaker was Merritt’s year long performance, where he competed more often at an astonishing level.
In FOURTEEN 110mH finals, Merritt was FIRST ten times. (DQ’d twice).
Even King Rudisha was not undefeated taking a loss at Zurich to Mohammed Aman where the Olympic champion had to settle for second.
I know, I know... Rudisha’s 85.7 winning percentage is better than Merritt’s at 71.4%, BUT Merritt raced more often and recorded just as many top ten marks as Rudisha.
In the end, the decision between the two comes down to who “broke” the record and who “SHATTERED” it. Merritt droped the 110mH WR by 0.54% while Rudisha “only” lowered it by “0.10%.”
- Olympic gold medal
- World Indoor Championship gold medal
- World record in the 110mH (12.80; old WR was 12.87)
- Most consecutive sub-13s in a single season (eight; old WR was seven)
- Seven of the top twenty-nine 110mH times of all-time (all set this season)
- Biggest single drop in the WR since Renaldo Nehemiah in 1981.