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Top track and field athletes of 2020: Men’s rankings

Noah Lyles, Josephus Lyles

Noah Lyles (R) of the US celebrates with his brother Josephus Lyles of the US after winning the men’s 200metre event during the Diamond League Athletics Meeting at The Louis II Stadium in Monaco on August 14, 2020. (Photo by Valery HACHE / POOL / AFP) (Photo by VALERY HACHE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

POOL/AFP via Getty Images

An event-by-event look at the men’s outdoor track and field rankings for 2020, a pandemic-impacted season that produced unpredictable top lists with some Olympic favorites not competing at all. Rankings and statistics via World Athletics and ...

100 Meters
1. Michael Norman (USA) -- 9.86
2. Trayvon Bromell (USA) -- 9.90
3. Akani Simbine (RSA) -- 9.91
Next American: Ronnie Baker (10.00)

Norman is a 400m sprinter who led the world rankings at one lap in 2019. Bromell, the 2015 World bronze medalist, broke 10.2 for the first time in four years after injuries derailed a promising career. Christian Coleman, the 2019 World champion and world’s fastest man in 2017, 2018 and 2019, was provisionally suspended in June for missing drug tests, though he has never failed a test. Coleman appealed the ban, but it’s unclear where he is at in the appeals process. If the suspension is upheld, it could last through the Tokyo Olympics.

200 Meters
1. Noah Lyles (USA) -- 19.76
2. Kenny Bednarek (USA) -- 19.80
3. Steven Gardiner (BAH) -- 19.96
Next American: Josephus Lyles (20.24)

Noah Lyles made it three straight years atop the world rankings, consolidating his Olympic favorite status. Like Coleman, he has been bidding to make the Tokyo team in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m. Bednarek, eliminated in the heats at 2019 Worlds with a hamstring injury, ran a personal best that would have taken gold last year.

MORE: 2020 women’s track and field rankings

400 Meters
1. Justin Robinson (USA) -- 44.91
2. Michael Cherry (USA) -- 44.98
3. Karsten Warholm (NOR) -- 45.05
Next American: Josephus Lyles (45.40)

Robinson, 18, ran faster in 2019, a 44.84 that ranked 24th in the world last year. None of the world’s four fastest men competed at 400m in 2020. It will be difficult for Robinson, Cherry or Josephus Lyles to make the three-man Olympic team in the individual 400m, with Norman and 2019 World bronze medalist Fred Kerley running 43.45 and 43.64, respectively, last year. South African Wayde van Niekerk, who lowered the world record to 43.03 in Rio, raced internationally for the first time since tearing an ACL and meniscus in a 2017 tag rugby match, clocking 45.58.

800 Meters
1. Donavan Brazier (USA) -- 1:43.15
2. Bryce Hoppel (USA) -- 1:43.23
3. Daniel Rowden (GBR) -- 1:44.09
Next American: Vincent Crisp 1:46.29

Brazier kept his standing as the world’s best over two laps, looking next year to win the U.S.’ first Olympic title in the event since Dave Wottle in 1972. Hoppel, fourth at 2019 Worlds, took 1.02 seconds off his personal best. Two-time Olympic champion and world-record holder David Rudisha of Kenya last raced on July 4, 2017.

1500 Meters
1. Timothy Cheruiyot (KEN) -- 3:28.45
2. Jakob Ingebrigtsen (NOR) -- 3:28.68
3. Jake Wightman (GBR) -- 3:29.47
Fastest Americans: Craig Engels (3:35.42), Donavan Brazier (3:35.85), Johnny Gregorek (3:36.11)

Cheruiyot has just one defeat at 1500m in the last two years. Ingebrigtsen, 20, has developed into his closest pursuer. Matthew Centrowitz, who in Rio became the first U.S. Olympic 1500m champion since 1908, stayed in the U.S. and raced shorter distances this summer.

5000 Meters
1. Joshua Cheptegei (UGA) -- 12:35.36 WR
2. Moh Ahmed (CAN) -- 12:47.20
3. Jacob Kiplimo (UGA) -- 12:48.63
Fastest Americans: Lopez Lomong (12:58.78), Sean McGorty (13:11.22), Grant Fisher (13:11.68)

Cheptegei took both of Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele‘s world records off the books and could succeed Mo Farah in sweeping the 5000m and 10,000m at the Olympics. American Paul Chelimo, the Rio silver medalist, did not race in the outdoor season.

10,000 meters
1. Joshua Cheptegei (UGA) -- 26:11.00 WR
2. Nicholas Kimeli (KEN) -- 26:58.97
3. Richard Yator (KEN) -- 27:01.42
Fastest Americans: Shadrack Kipchirchir (27:28.97), Girma Mecheso (27:49.53), Conner Mantz (28:07.70)

Cheptegei’s 47-second gap to the second-fastest man is Katie Ledecky-like distance dominance. Lomong, the 2008 U.S. Olympic Opening Ceremony flag bearer, won the 2019 U.S. title in this event but did not contest it in 2020. He’s already raced the 1500m and 5000m at the Olympics.

1. Berhanu Legese (ETH) -- 2:04:15
2. Mekuant Gebre (ETH) -- 2:04:46
3. Bashir Abdi (BEL) -- 2:04:49
Fastest Americans: Galen Rupp (2:09:20), Jacob Riley (2:10:02), Abdi Abdirahman (2:10:03)

Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge was first or second in the world in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 (and fourth in 2013 and third in 2014). This year, he is 33rd after placing eighth at the London Marathon, his first defeat at 26.2 miles in seven years. All of the top U.S. times were from the Olympic Trials on Feb. 29, just before the pandemic halted competition.

110 Meter Hurdles
1. Orlando Ortega (ESP) -- 13.11
2. Andrew Pozzi (GBR) -- 13.14
3. Aaron Mallet (USA) -- 13.15
Next Americans: Grant Holloway (13.19), Freddie Crittenden (13.30)

A streak of 10 straight years with at least one man running 13.00 or faster ends with the limited competition. Holloway is the reigning world champion. Rio gold medalist Omar McLeod of Jamaica did not race hurdles in 2020. Mallet, a 26-year-old who has never made an Olympic or world team, raced at seven meets from Aug. 17-Sept. 25 and lowered his personal best by .31 of a second. That ranks him third among Americans since the start of 2018, putting him on the radar for Tokyo.

400 Meter Hurdles
1. Karsten Warholm (NOR) -- 46.87
2. Ludvy Vallant (FRA) -- 48.69
3. Rasmus Magi (EST) -- 48.72
Fastest Americans: David Kendziera 49.35, Mario Paul (52.23), Bryce McCray (52.36)

The two-time world champion Warholm ran the second-fastest time in history, plus three more in the 12 fastest all time. He did so without having primary rivals American Rai Benjamin and Qatari Abderrahman Samba to challenge him in 2020. Benjamin raced flat sprints this year. Samba had no recorded races.

3000 Meter Steeplechase
1. Soufiane El Bakkali (MAR) -- 8:08.04
2. Leonard Bett (KEN) -- 8:08.78
3. Djilali Bedrani (FRA) -- 8:13.43
Fastest American: Dominic Giordano (9:28.49)

Olympic and world champion Conseslus Kipruto of Kenya hoped to chase the world record, but he tested positive for the coronavirus in August and failed to finish his lone race in September, a 1500m. American Evan Jager, the Rio silver medalist, returned to racing this year after missing all of 2019 with a foot injury, but he did not start any steeples.

High Jump
1. Maksim Nedasekau (BLR) -- 2.33
2. Tomohiro Shinno (JPN) -- 2.31
3. Seven men at 2.30
Top Americans: Erik Kynard (2.21), Jeron Robinson (2.20), Tyus Wilson (2.16)

Competition has been harder to come by for field athletes this season. No surprise that world champion Mutaz Barshim of Qatar sat out. Kynard competed this past season for the first time since rupturing an Achilles in summer 2018, while he waits to see if he’ll be upgraded to 2012 Olympic gold following the disqualification of Russian Ivan Ukhov for doping.

Pole Vault
1. Mondo Duplantis (SWE) -- 6.15
2. Sam Kendricks (USA) -- 6.02
3. Jacob Wooten (USA) -- 5.90
3. Matt Ludwig (USA) -- 5.90
3. Piotr Lisek (POL) -- 5.90

The pandemic did not stunt the ascent of Duplantis, the 20-year-old who broke both the indoor and outdoor world records this year. Duplantis, raised in Louisiana by an American father and Swedish mother, wrestled Olympic favorite status from two-time world champion Kendricks.

Long Jump
1. Wang Jianan (CHN) -- 8.36
2. Huang Changzhou (CHN) -- 8.33
3. Yuki Hashioka (JPN) -- 8.29
Top Americans: Trumaine Jefferson (7.59), William Dower (7.45), Reginald Steele (7.44)

Jamaican Tajay Gayle won the 2019 World title with an 8.69-meter jump. American Jeff Henderson, the 2016 Olympic champion and 2019 World silver medalist, did not compete in 2020.

Triple Jump
1. Christian Taylor (USA) -- 17.57
2. Hugues Zango (BUR) -- 17.43
3. Andy Diaz (CUB) -- 17.30
Next Americans: Omar Craddock (17.04), Chris Carter (16.39)

Taylor, a two-time Olympic champion and four-time world champion, tops the world rankings for the first year since 2017. Primary rival and countryman Will Claye did not compete.

Shot Put
1. Ryan Crouser (USA) -- 22.91
2. Leonardo Fabbri (ITA) -- 21.99
3. Michal Haratyk (POL) -- 21.88
Next Americans: Nick Ponzio (21.72), Joe Kovacs (21.30)

The Rio gold medalist Crouser threw a personal best, matching Kovacs’ winning distance from the 2019 World Championships, in an overall dominant season.

1. Daniel Stahl (SWE) -- 71.31
2. Mauricio Ortega (COL) -- 70.29
3. Fedrick Dacres (JAM0 -- 69.67
Top Americans: Niklas Arrhenius (64.14), Sam Mattis (62.46), Josh Syrotchen (61.29)

Stahl competed at 20 meets from June 11-Sept. 17 and won 17 of them. The Swede rebounded from bowing out in qualifying in Rio to take world silver in 2017 and gold in 2019.

1. Rudy Winkler (USA) -- 80.72
2. Wojciech Nowicki (POL) -- 80.28
3. Bence Halasz (HUN) -- 79.88
Next Americans: Daniel Haugh (76.22), Erich Sullins (67.93)

Winkler improved his personal best by nearly 12 feet with a throw that would have won the 2019 World title and put him third in last year’s world rankings. It’s the first time since 2011 that the U.S. put a man in the world top 10. Pawel Fajdek of Poland, winner of the last four world titles, ranked fourth this year.

1. Johannes Vetter (GER) -- 97.76
2. Neeraj Chopra (IND) -- 87.86
3. Marcin Krukowski (POL) -- 87.07
Top Americans: Riley Dolezal (79.39), Capers Williamson (73.85), Christopher Mirabelli (73.02)

Vetter, the 2017 World champion, distanced himself from a strong group of German throwers by recording the second-best throw in history, trailing only retired legend Jan Zelezny of the Czech Republic.

1. Axel Hubert (FRA) -- 8,260
2. Simon Ehammer (SUI) -- 8,231
3. Vitaliy Zhuk (BLR) -- 8,202
No listed American results

Perhaps the toughest event to put on during a pandemic. Hubert, fourth at the 2019 French Championships, registered a total that would have placed eighth at the 2019 Worlds. World-record holder Kevin Mayer of France and world champion Niklas Kaul of Germany competed this season, but not in the decathlon.

20km Race Walk
1. Toshikazu Yamanishi (JPN) -- 1:17:36
2. Koki Ikeda (JPN) -- 1:18:22
3. Eiki Takahashi (JPN) -- 1:18:29
Top American: Emmanuel Corvera (1:26.38)

50km Race Walk
1. Dementiy Cheparev (RUS) -- 3:43:29
2. Sergey Sharypov (RUS) -- 3:43:46
3. Sergey Rakov (RUS) -- 3:48:37
Top Americans: Andreas Gustafsson (4:12:12), Matthew Forgues (4:14:44), Nick Christie (4:27:29)

Key times in the race walks: 1:21:00 and 3:50:00, the Olympic automatic qualifying standards. No American has hit either time in this Olympic cycle, but athletes can also qualify via world rankings.

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