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

Elaine Thompson

Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson (L) crosses the finish line to wins in the women’s 100mt final during the IAAF Diamond League competition on September 17, 2020 at the Olympic stadium in Rome. (Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP) (Photo by VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

An event-by-event look at the women’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. Elaine Thompson-Herah (JAM) -- 10.85
2. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (JAM) -- 10.86
3. Sha’Carri Richardson (USA) -- 10.95
Next Americans: Aleia Hobbs (11.12), Hannah Cunliffe (11.14)

Thompson-Herah or Fraser-Pryce recorded the world’s fastest time seven of the last nine years, the only outliers being the fallow years of 2014 and 2018. The 20-year-old Richardson ranks third for a second straight year and is the U.S.’ best hope of a first Olympic 100m title since Gail Devers in 1996.

200 Meters
1. Shaunae Miller-Uibo (BAH) -- 21.98
2. Sha’Carri Richardson (USA) -- 22.00
3. Elaine Thompson-Herah (JAM) -- 22.19
Next Americans: Lynna Irby (22.47), Quanera Hayes (22.80)

Miller-Uibo, the Rio 400m gold medalist, said in July that she is leaning toward racing the 200m and not the 400m at the Tokyo Games, where the schedule makes the double difficult. The Bahamian has the world’s fastest time of this Olympic cycle (21.74) and hasn’t lost a 200m that she has finished since doubling at the 2017 World Championships.

MORE: 2020 men’s track and field rankings

400 Meters
1. Lynna Irby (USA) -- 50.50
2. Shaunae Miller-Uibo (BAH) -- 50.52
3. Lieke Klaver (NED) -- 50.98
Next Americans: Wadeline Jonathas (51.23), Courtney Okolo (51.52)

Irby is the fourth different woman to top the U.S. 400m list in as many years, though four other U.S. women ran faster than 50.50 last year. This event could be wide open in Tokyo with Miller-Uibo focusing on the 200m and the June announcement that world champion Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain was provisionally banned for missing three drug tests. The state of Naser’s case, if she could be officially banned and for how long, is unclear. Allyson Felix did not race a 400m this year but did beat Miller-Uibo in a virtual 150m in July.

800 Meters
1. Faith Kipyegon (KEN) -- 1:57.68
2. Hedda Hynne (NOR) -- 1:58.10
3. Selina Buchel (SUI) -- 1:58.37
Fastest Americans: Chanelle Price (2:00.12), Cory McGee (2:00.16), Heather MacLean (2:00.29)

Kipyegon is the Olympic 1500m champion who came back from childbirth to take silver in that event in a national record at 2019 Worlds. The 800m and 1500m overlap in Tokyo, but none of the rounds are on the same day. Neither surprise 2019 World champion Halimah Nakaayi of Uganda nor American standout Ajeé Wilson contested an outdoor 800m this year.

1500 Meters
1. Laura Muir (GBR) -- 3:57.40
2. Faith Kipyegon (KEN) -- 3:59.05
3. Sofia Ennaoui (POL) -- 3:59.70
Fastest Americans: Karissa Schweizer (4:00.02), Elle Purrier (4:00.77), Shelby Houlihan (4:02.37)

Muir, fourth and fifth at the last two worlds, topped the rankings in an event that will be affected by the decisions of world champion Sifan Hassan and American record holder Houlihan, who have the range to enter longer distances at the Olympics.

5000 Meters
1. Letesenbet Gidey (ETH) -- 14:06.62 WR
2. Hellen Obiri (KEN) -- 14:22.12
3. Shelby Houlihan (USA) -- 14:23.92
Next Americans: Karissa Schweizer (14:26.34), Shannon Rowbury (14:45.11)

Gidey, the 23-year-old world 10,000m silver medalist, took 4.5 seconds off a 12-year-old world record. Now it appears Obiri, the 2017 and 2019 World 5000m champion, has her work cut out. While Houlihan could opt for the 1500m (or a double), Schweizer is considered more likely to choose the 5000m, where a U.S. woman has yet to an earn an Olympic medal (it debuted in 1996).

10,000 Meters
1. Sifan Hassan (NED) -- 29:36.67
2. Rosemary Wanjiru (KEN) -- 30:38.18
3. Tsehay Gemechu (ETH) -- 30:57.73
Fastest Americans: Maggie Montoya (32:11.48), Natosha Rogers (32:24.72), Olivia Pratt (32:26.29)

Similar to the 1500m and 5000m, the Olympic outlook will depend on choices made by the world’s three fastest women in this Olympic cycle. Hassan did the 1500m-10,000m double at 2019 Worlds. Gidey raced solely the 10,000m at 2019 Worlds, but is now the 5000m world-record holder. Then there’s Olympic champion and world-record holder Almaz Ayana, who has one registered track race result in the last three years.

1. Lonah Salpeter (ISR) -- 2:17:45
2. Birhane Dibaba (ETH) -- 2:18:35
3. Brigid Kosgei (KEN) -- 2:18:58
Fastest Americans: Sara Hall (2:22:01), Molly Seidel (2:25:13), Aliphine Tuliamuk (2:27:23)

Kosgei is the world’s best marathoner, winning her last four starts, all majors, plus shattering the world record. Hall, who took second to Kosgei in London two weeks ago in the fastest time by an American in two years, did not finish the Olympic Trials on Feb. 29 but could go for Tokyo on the track in the 10,000m.

100 Meter Hurdles
1. Nadine Visser (NED) -- 12.68
2. Luca Kozak (HUN) -- 12.71
3. Elvira Herman (BLR) -- 12.73
Fastest Americans: Payton Chadwick (12.78), Taliyah Brooks (12.86), Sharika Nelvis (13.09)

Rio gold medalist Brianna McNeal, world-record holder Kendra Harrison and 2019 World champion Nia Ali did not start any 100m hurdles races this year.

400 Meter Hurdles
1. Femke Bol (NED) -- 53.79
2. Anna Ryzhykova (UKR) -- 54.54
3. Viktoriya Tkachuk (UKR) -- 54.93
Fastest Americans: Deonca Bookman (58.83), Michaela Rose (59.00), Samantha Gonzalez (1:00.40)

Neither Dalilah Muhammad nor Sydney McLaughlin, who became the fastest women in history in 2019, ran a 400m hurdles race in 2020.

3000 Meter Steeplechase
1. Hyvin Kiyeng (KEN) -- 9:06.14
2. Beatrice Chepkoech (KEN) -- 9:10.07
3. Yekaterina Ivonina (RUS) -- 9:16.84
Fastest Americans: Victoria Gerlach (10:03.09), Alicia Douglas (10:17.27), Briar Brumley (10:28.24)

Kiyeng handed the world-record holder Chepkoech just her third steeple defeat in the last three years last month. Americans Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs, who went one-two at the 2017 Worlds, each raced in 2020, but not in steeples.

High Jump
1. Yuliya Levchenko (UKR) -- 2.00
1. Yaroslava Mahuchikh (UKR) -- 2.00
3. Eleanor Patterson (AUS) -- 1.99
Top Americans: Alyssa Jones (1.82), Cassidy Palka (1.81), Addie Renner (1.75)

Russian Mariya Lasitskene, the 2017 and 2019 World champion, extended her dominant run with an undefeated domestic season and the world’s highest clearance in 2020 (it came indoors). American Vashti Cunningham, the world bronze medalist, did not compete outdoors but cleared 1.97 meters indoors.

Pole Vault
1. Katie Nageotte (USA) -- 4.92
2. Michaela Meijer (SWE) -- 4.83
3. Anzhelika Sidorova (RUS) -- 4.80
Next Americans: Sandi Morris (4.70), Kortney Ross (4.52), Alina McDonald (4.52)

Nageotte, with a personal-best clearance, became the first woman other than Rio silver medalist Morris and 2012 Olympic champion Jenn Suhr to top the U.S. rankings in 15 years. Neither Suhr nor Rio Olympic champion Katerina Stefanidi registered an official outdoor clearance this year. Nageotte’s height would have taken silver behind Sidorova at 2019 Worlds.

Long Jump
1. Malaika Mihambo (GER) -- 7.03
2. Nastassia Mironchyk-Ivanova (BLR) -- 6.94
3. Khaddi Sagnia (SWE) -- 6.92
Top Americans: Keturah Orji (6.68), Taliyah Brooks (6.57), Tiffany Flynn (6.47)

Mihambo, undefeated in 2019 outdoors, suffered her only 2020 defeat at her last meet in Berlin. Rio Olympic champion Tianna Bartoletta jumped at one August meet as part of her return from emergency surgery for a fibroid tumor in December. London Olympic champion Brittney Reese competed strictly in sprints.

Triple Jump
1. Yulimar Rojas (VEN) -- 14.71
2. Yekatrina Koneva (RUS) -- 14.56
3. Liadagmis Povea (CUB) -- 14.55
Top Americans: Keturah Orji (14.14), Kiana Davis (12.48), Hana Johnson (12.38)

Rojas has overtaken the formerly dominant Colombian Caterine Ibarguen in this Olympic cycle, winning both world titles, breaking the world indoor record and recording the second-farthest outdoor triple jump in history. Ibarguen stuck to the long jump in her two meets this year.

Shot Put
1. Auriol Dongmo (POR) -- 19.53
1. Gong Lijao (CHN) -- 19.53
3. Chase Ealey (USA) -- 19.41
Next Americans: Jessica Ramsey (18.64), Haley Teel (17.14)

What will 2021 hold for Michelle Carter, who in Rio became the first U.S. Olympic women’s shot put champion, and 2008 and 2012 Olympic champion Valerie Adams of New Zealand? Carter last competed at the U.S. Indoor Championships in February. Adams, returning from her second childbirth in this Olympic cycle, threw 18.81 meters outdoors in February before the pandemic halted sports.

1. Valarie Allman (USA) -- 70.15
2. Sandra Perkovic (CRO) -- 65.93
3. Kristin Pudenz (GER) -- 65.58
Next Americans: Rachel Varner (53.74), Elle Alexander (52.13)

Allman broke the American record with a nearly 10-foot personal best and became the first U.S. woman to top the world rankings in more than two decades. Only the two-time Olympic champion Perkovic has thrown farther in this Olympic cycle, and not since May 2018.

1. Hanna Malyshchyk (BLR) -- 75.45
2. Alexandra Tavernier (FRA) -- 75.23
3. Malwina Kopron (POL) -- 74.18
Top Americans: Gwen Berry (70.15), Ashley Belanger (65.32), Alina Duran (64.08)

Neither Olympic champion and world-record holder Anita Włodarczyk of Poland nor world champion DeAnna Price of St. Charles, Mo., threw outdoors this year.

1. Lyu Huihui (CHN) -- 67.61
2. Liu Shiying (CHN) -- 67.29
3. Tatsiana Khaladovich (BLR) -- 67.17
Top Americans: Kara Winger (64.44), Ariana Ince (57.98), Sydney Juszczyk (50.17)

China, which has never put a woman an Olympic javelin podium, put two women on the podium at the last two worlds. The reigning world champion, Kelsey-Lee Barber of Australia, has not competed this year.

1. Ivona Dadic (AUT) -- 6,419
2. Alina Shukh (UKR) -- 6,386
3. Carolin Schafer (GER) -- 6,319
No listed American results

A very hard event to contest during a pandemic. Brit Katarina Johnson-Thompson tallied 6,981 points in unseating Belgian Nafi Thiam at last year’s worlds, but both stuck to individual events in 2020.

20km Race Walk
1. Elvira Khasanova (RUS) -- 1:26:43
2. Reykhan Kagramanova (RUS) -- 1:26:50
3. Marina Novikova (RUS) -- 1:27:25
Top Americans: Amberly Melendez (1:39:17), Celina Lepe (1:43:46), Anali Cisneros (1:45:59)

Key time in the race walks: 1:31:00, the Olympic automatic qualifying standard. No American has hit that time in this Olympic cycle, but athletes can also qualify via world rankings. Robyn Stevens would make the Olympic field with three spots to spare if the current rankings hold.

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