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

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 Tilastopaja.org …

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)

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