The latest Athletics Weekly shows the event disciplines that are healthy – and not so healthy

Much of the content in the current 112-page double issue of AW is end-of-year statistics. They paint a picture of the year in names and numbers and also, in the case of the British merit rankings in particular, illustrate the fluctuating fortunes of various event disciplines.

As we reach the climax of 2018, this is the 51st successive year that statistician Peter Matthews has compiled the British merit rankings. You will not find them online, so they provide an exclusive insight into the health of the sport.

None of it is mere opinion either. The numbers do not lie, although they are naturally influenced by factors such as championship opportunities or weather conditions (for example domestic marathon marks in 2018 were affected by a particularly warm race in London in April).

Generally, sprints are thriving in British athletics although they have been good now for several years, but some of the field events – like javelin especially – are struggling, whereas women’s standards across the board are good, possibly helped by several events like pole vault, hammer and steeplechase still being relatively new.

Here is a snapshot of some of the rising and falling events in British athletics…


Men’s 100m – with two Brits in the world top 10 and a one-two in the World Under-20 Championships, British sprinters are making an impact across the world.

Men’s 800m – eight Brits are in the world top 100 and the 10th best time by a British runner is the best since 1992.

Men’s 5000m – Mo Farah might have left the event after 13 years as No.1 but depth is good with the 50th ranked time of 14:07.81 being the best since 1991.

Women’s 200m –Dina Asher-Smith’s record-breaking performances inspired those behind her as the 50th best mark of 24.36 was a record.

Women’s 1500m – like Asher-Smith in the sprints, Laura Muir is leading a middle-distance surge in standards and 10th best of 4:07.69 was a record.

Women’s 5000m – 50th best mark of 16:36.07 was a record.

Women’s triple jump – 10 Brits broke 13 metres and the 50th best mark of 11.69m is a record.

Women’s hammer – led by the world-class Sophie Hitchon, the 50th best of 48.89m is a record.


Men’s 110m hurdles – despite Andy Pozzi leading the way with a world indoor title at 60m hurdles, the 10th best mark at 110m hurdles is the worst since 1985 and the 50th is the worst since 2003.

Men’s 400m hurdles – the 50th best British mark of 55.6 is the worst since 1973.

Men’s 3000m steeplechase – only 30 athletes broke 9:20 in 2018 compared to more than 90 in every year from 1982-1991.

Men’s hammer – despite Britain having world-class athletes like Nick Miller and Jake Norris, behind the standards are poor with 76 throwers breaking 46 metres being the worst figure since 1980.

Men’s javelin – the 50th best mark of 56.05m is the lowest figure since the revised specification javelin was brought in 32 years ago.

Men’s 50km walk – five men broke five hours this year but 50 race walkers did it in 1980 and 1984.

Women’s pole vault – surprisingly, despite being led by Holly Bradshaw and the rising Molly Caudery, standards in depth fell.

Women’s javelin – the 10th best of 45.03m is the worst since the current specification javelin was introduced in 1999.

» This is not a definitive list of events. For the full picture, see the December 20 issue of AW

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