Athlete form through the year has been assessed by an international panel of experts to create rankings based on merit

For the 21st year, Athletics International has collaborated with AW to produce an annual statistical review including world top 10 merit rankings.

The selection panel – consisting of Athletics International co-editors Peter Matthews and Mel Watman, with Stuart Mazdon (UK), Mirko Jalava (FIN), Alfons Juck (SVK), A Lennart Julin (SWE) and Ed Gordon (USA), plus Elliott Denman for walks – assessed the year’s records of the leading contenders and the ranking order was determined by consensus.

The criteria are the traditional ones of honours won, win-loss records and sequence of marks.

The World Championships were, of course, the major focus for most top athletes but as usual there were many other major events such as the continental championships and for the elite the Diamond League and World Challenge meetings.

Marks made indoors were not considered, nor were any athletes who were suspended for two years or longer during the year for drug-related offences.

Below we list the top three in each women’s event. The men’s international rankings can be found here, while UK merit rankings for men are here and women are here. The full top 10 lists for every event, including the details of athletes’ seasons and more in-depth explanations, appear in our December 19 end-of-year review special issue, which is available to buy and read digitally here or order in print here.

1 Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (JAM)
2 Dina Asher-Smith (GBR)
3 Marie-Josée Ta Lou (CIV)

Fraser-Pryce enjoyed a superb season and regains the top ranking she held four times between 2008 and 2015.

1 Shaunae Miller-Uibo (BAH)
2 Dina Asher-Smith (GBR)
3 Elaine Thompson (JAM)

Miller-Uibo had four 200m races and won them all – by an average winning margin of 0.35.

1 Salwa Eid Naser (BRN)
2 Shaunae Miller-Uibo (BAH)
3 Shericka Jackson (JAM)

The astonishing run by Naser at the Worlds was the highlight of her unbeaten year at the event and that was Miller-Uibo’s only loss.

1 Ajee’ Wilson (USA)
2 Halimah Nakaayi (UGA)
3 Raevyn Rogers (USA)

Wilson was clearly ranked top prior to Doha, but one panellist felt that Nakaayi’s Worlds win beat that.

1500m/one mile
1 Sifan Hassan (NED)
2 Faith Kipyegon (USA)
3 Genzebe Dibaba (ETH)

Hassan achieved a unique double with top ranking at 1500m and 10,000m.

1 Hellen Obiri (KEN)
2 Sifan Hassan (NED)
3 Konstanze Klosterhalfen (GER)

Obiri is top for the third successive year.

1 Sifan Hassan (NED)
2 Letesenbet Gidey (ETH)
3 Agnes Tirop (KEN)

Hassan made a successful debut at the event!


1 Brigid Kosgei (KEN)
2 Ruth Chepngetich (KEN)
3 Worknesh Degefa (ETH)

Kosgei and Chepngetich each had two great wins with Kosgei taking an amazing 1:21 off Paula Radcliffe’s seemingly untouchable world record.

3000m steeplechase
1 Beatrice Chepkoech (KEN)
2 Emma Coburn (USA)
3 Hyvin Jepkemoi Kiyeng (KEN)

Chepkoech had another brilliant year for her third top ranking.

100m hurdles
1 Kendra Harrison (USA)
2 Danielle Williams (JAM)
3 Nia Ali (USA)

Harrison ranks top for the fourth year, but it was again very close at the top.

400m hurdles
1 Dalilah Muhammad (USA)
2 Sydney McLaughlin (USA)
3 Shamier Little (USA)

Muhammad set two world records and needed to do so to hold off the challenge of McLaughlin.

High jump
1 Maria Lasitskene (RUS)
2 Yuliya Levchenko (UKR)
3 Yaroslava Mahuchikh (UKR)

Lasitskene was again dominant, top ranked for the fifth time.

Pole vault
1 Anzhelika Sidorova (RUS)
2 Sandi Morris (USA)
3 Ekaterini Stefanidi (GRE)

It was close at the top as Sidorova and Morris were 3-3 in their clashes, but Sidorova came out on top with the world-leading 4.95m at the Worlds.

Long jump
1 Malaika Mihambo (GER)
2 Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk (UKR)
3 Brittney Reese (USA)

Mihambo had a superb unbeaten season outdoors.

Triple jump
1 Yulimar Rojas (VEN)
2 Shanieka Ricketts (JAM)
3 Caterine Ibargüen (COL)

Rojas closed on the world record with a brilliant year of seven wins and two second places.

1 Gong Lijiao (CHN)
2 Danniel Thomas-Dodd (JAM)
3 Chase Ealey (USA)

For the first year since 1970 there was just one 20m-plus throw in the world this year. That was by Gong in the Diamond League final and she had the next three best marks.

1 Yaimi Pérez (CUB)
2 Denia Caballero (CUB)
3 Sandra Perkovic (CRO)

Pérez had an 11-3 win-loss advantage over her compatriot Caballero.

1 DeAnna Price (USA)
2 Wang Zheng (CHN)
3 Gwen Berry (USA)

Price had the year’s three best performances and seven wins in nine competitions.

1 Lu Huihui (CHN)
2 Kelsey-Lee Barber (AUS)
3 Christin Hussong (GER)

Although beaten into third place at the Worlds, Lu had the year’s three best performances.

1 Katarina Johnson-Thompson (GBR)
2 Nafissatou Thiam (BEL)
3 Verena Preiner (AUT)

After being top ranked for three years, Thiam had to yield to Johnson-Thompson.

20km walk
1 Liu Hong (CHN)
2 Qieyang Shenjie (CHN)
3 Yang Liujing (CHN)

With her commanding walk at the Worlds Liu Hong returned to the top ranking she had in 2015 and 2016.

50km walk
1 Liu Hong (CHN)
2 Liang Rui (CHN)
3 Li Maocuo (CHN)

The world record was taken under four hours, first by Liu Hong (who chose the 20km for Doha) on her debut at the distance and then by Klavdiya Afanasyeva.

» For the full top 10 lists for every event, including the details of athletes’ seasons and more in-depth explanations, see our December 19 end-of-year review special issue, which is available to buy and read digitally here or order in print here.

» Peter Matthews and Mel Watman are joint editors of Athletics International. For more information on receiving the Athletics International newsletter email [email protected]