Crouser versus Duplantis
Last Sunday’s Berlin Marathon delivered a clear message: the 2023 athletics season isn’t over. It’s true there aren’t too many meets left in the year but big city marathons in Chicago, Amsterdam, New York, Shanghai and Valencia could deliver their fair share of thrills.
That’s what happened in Berlin. With all eyes on Eluid Kipchoge, the Kenyan who holds the men’s world record, Ethiopian Tigist Assefa battered the women’s mark down to two hours 11 minutes and 53 seconds.
Chicago, set for October 8, and New York, scheduled for November 5, have hosted men’s world records in the past and, if World Championships winner Victor Kiplangat appears in either race and breaks Kipchoge’s standard of 2:01.09, the Ugandan could force himself into consideration for the Athlete of the Year title. He’d have to break his usual diet of two marathons a year and measure the trade-off to being rested and recovered for the 2024 Olympics.
As things stand, there are two great Male Athlete of the Year candidates, pole vaulter Armand ‘Mondo’ Duplantis and Ryan Crouser, the supreme shot putter. Both won at the Budapest World Championships, and both set world records this season, with Mondo clearing 6.22m indoors and 6.23m at the recent Diamond League final in Eugene, Oregon. Crouser moved his record forward from 23.37m in 2021 to 23.56m in Los Angeles, on May 27.
Mondo, an America born and raised Swede, cleared 6.00m in 13 of his 16 meets this season, and Crouser broke 23m in four meets and 22m each of the 11 times he stepped into the circle for a competition.
Mondo, American KC Lightfoot, and Ernest Obiena, of the Philippines, were the only men to vault over six metres in 2023, but Crouser was alone beyond the 23m line.
Moreover, he produced the second longest throw of all time - 23.51m - to retain his crown in Budapest.
All in all, they had two losses between them, Crouser placing second at the Diamond League final and Mondo a poor fourth - clearing a mere 5.72m - in Monaco.
The only other man to be remotely in contention is Norwegian Jakob Ingebritgsen. He turned 23 last week on September 19, after a campaign where he defended his World 5000m title with his only trip over the distance for the year, placed second in the 1500, and in which he set world records at 2000m and two miles. Had he won the 1500m/5000m double in Budapest, it would have been a slam dunk. Unfortunately, he lost the 1500m to Britain’s Josh Kerr and, with his records ‘aided’ by the curious new wavelight pacemaking technology, the shine goes off his candidacy for Athlete of the Year.
If Kiplangat doesn’t appear in Chicago or New York, I feel the battle for the Athlete of the Year title will pit Mondo against Crouser, with the Swede’s second world record, the 6.23m in Eugene, just overbalancing his fourth place in Monaco.
- Hubert Lawrence has made notes at track side since 1980.