Usain Bolt misses out to David Rudisha as best athlete of the decade
David Rudisha and Usain Bolt

Interestingly, Usain Bolt is not the best track and field athlete of the decade. According to United States-based publication Track and Field News, considered themselves Bible of the Sport Since 1948, Kenyan David Rudisha, is the top athlete ahead of Bolt.

The magazine described rankings as “tough decisions” while adding it was “by the thinnest of margins imaginable the decision came down in favour of the Kenyan half-mile ace.”

The magazine listed Rudisha’s accomplishment, in the last ten years, 2010 to 2019.
It described as “a marvellous string to open the decade, Rudisha was it’s Athlete Of The Year in three straight years (2010–12), a feat only ever matched by Carl Lewis.”

Rudisha, during the time, broken the 800m World Record three times (1:41.09, 1:41.01, 1:40.91), and according to Track and Field News, “the last of them being chosen as our Performance Of The Decade.”

Rudisha also won two Olympic Games gold medals, London 2012 and Rio 2016. Adding to that, he took World Championships titles in Daegu 2011 and Beijing 2015.

Meanwhile, Bolt, the only sprinter to win Olympic 100m and 200m titles at three consecutive Olympics (2008, 2012 and 2016), along with two 4×100 relay gold medals, finished in second place.

“Even though his WR-setting years came in that previous decade, the world’s fastest human nonetheless made an impact on the all-time lists, producing the second-fastest 100 ever, 9.63, and the Nos. 5 & 6 clockings in the 200 (19.32, 19.40),” said Track and Field News.

“He dominated the World Rankings in each of the dashes, scoring 1-1-1-2-2-2-3 in the 100 and 1-1-1-1-1-3 in the 200.”

Christian Taylor, the American triple jumper, who scored more World Rankings points (89 out of 100) in the decade than any other man, was third on the list. He won two Olympic Games titles and four at the World Championships.

Mo Farah (Great Britain), who won four Olympic gold medals at 5000m, 10,000m, and six World Championships top honours, finished fourth on the list

American Ashton Eaton, winner of two Olympic Games and as many world titles in the decathlon, rounded off the top five.

South African Wayde van Niekerk, winner of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in a record 43.04, finished sixth on the list. He also won world titles in Beijing 2015 and London 2017.

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Anthony Foster is a renowned Jamaican sports journalist, honored twice as the Jamaica sports journalist of the year (in 2004 and 2005). His journalistic achievements are globally recognized. Notably, he authored an award-winning article on Usain Bolt, the iconic 6-time Olympic champion, 11-time World champion, and record holder for the sprint double. This significant piece was published in the Jamaica Gleaner in 2004. Anthony's extensive coverage includes prestigious events such as the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008, London 2012, and Rio 2016. He has also provided coverage for seven (7) World Athletics Championships held between 2007 and 2022, alongside various other international sporting events. Noteworthy mentions comprise his coverage of the 2007 World Cup of cricket and his cherished experience reporting on the 2004 clash between his favorite football team, Argentina, and the USA.


  1. Sprint record is easier to brake than a mid or long distance one… Asafa Powell broke that 100m numerous times n has Tyson gay broke it, Tim Montgomery, Morris green, Donovan Bailey, n many more so it’s clear that Usain was just redoing what can easily be done, look at 800m Wilson kipketer record n sabastian core are the only guys who had ran a record 1:41……meaning it’s hard to get an athlete doing such things rudisha did by breaking that record threes times… Yes bolt is an entertainer but he’s not the best in sprits, wait n see his record being broken next year…n he’ll never be the talk of town just like other sprinters…. sorry Jamaica, Kenya is the land of running legends, it’s our lifestyle……??????

  2. This is the same America, whose athletes, allegedly refused from drinking a particular drink because Bolt’s picture was on the bottle. What do you expect

  3. I am Jamaican and with both of their accomplishments in the last decade it doesn’t bother me that Rudisha won. I am not one those Jamaican that think a Jamaican has to win everything.

  4. First I thought, how could this not be Bolt, but recognizing that this does not include 2008 and 2009 where Bolt set consecutive world records, I do understand. Rudisha’s record within the decade is insane, as is Bolts… To redeem itself, though, T&F news should come up with a list that combines the first two decades. In this instance, the winner would be Bolt, hands down!!!

  5. What’s with the focus on world records that will be broken some day? More focus should be on the medals won, the impact the athlete had on the sport, and whether they drew the crowds or not. Those are the criteria I use. And no doubt, Bolt fulfills them all.

  6. That is terrible!!! Bolt should have won hands down simply because of how far he put the records……It will be decades before his records are threatened or get broke. His wins Olympics and World Championships should be the second reason time of dominance. I am from the US and I love US sprinting but fair is fair.

  7. Bolt and Olympic record at 9.63 2012 yet all we focus on is 9.58..however thanks to Ussin that Rudisha has an opportunity to excel…one legend..Usain Bolt..even after athletics the man has never ending deals, sponsorships and command a great respect. Check him out at Ice Exhibition with his new game…Rudisha will be watching bolt forever

  8. @Davida Douglas Sometimes we fail to acknowledge the work that others do. By far Bolt is the greatest track athlete of his time but we cannot only look at the sprints the distance running is hard too and maybe more difficult. Rudisha won back to back olympics in the 2010s and also broke the world record twice in the 2020s. I am not saying Bolt don’t deserve it but i am saying other athletes deserve some credit too.

  9. @Demj Johnson true. There were more. But this is the Sprint event here. It’s extremely difficult. To do 3 Olympics for the Sprint event which attracts the most attention and finish on top. He deserves it

  10. @Davida Douglas i know that…it doesn’t take away from the greatness of Bolt…Bolt was dominant right through his career but his major highlights were 2008 and 2009…Rudisha broke the 800m world record at the 2012 olympics in a mere impossible time and he still maintain great world performances up to 2016 as well. Bolt was great in the 2010s but he wasnt the only great athlete in the 2010s.

  11. @Demj Johnson a person should be judged by his rise after his fall. He should be judged in full. So I can’t agree with this one. The journey is important. That is how someone becomes a legend. Rudisha does not have that. Maintenance for Sprint event is extremely difficult..

  12. Bolt was the name and face of athletics for a full decade. Single handedly carried it through all the doping scandals and top level bribery mess it found itself in. Rudisha is a fantastic athlete but doesn’t compare to the stature of Bolt

  13. That’s debatable; they both had massive impact on their respective events & consequentially the sports overall. But as someone said earlier, Rudisha’s WR came this decade in the Olympic final(in event that had an older record)! However, Bolt has had more big and consistent wins from the end of the 00s through most of the 2010s.

  14. In America, track and field’s media coverage is handled by white Americans. White Americans are decent in middle and long distant races, so typically those events are what is covered. They selected Rudisha as a snub to Usain Bolt. It’s the very reason why track and field is not a major sport in America. It’s because black Americans dominate the American circuit so the white media coverage doesn’t give track its due. I’ve always said: “If Michael Johnson was white, Track & Field would have been made a major sport in America and get its proper coverage”
    Not that when there was a white boy in high school running fast they plastered him all over everything they could and they also used deceptive writing to imply he was able to run on Usain’s level. The truth is numerous black boys had run similar times for years and they never received anywhere close to the recognition he got.

  15. @Jacqui Clarke You nailed it. It’s based on a panel of biased still and always will be threatened American voters If Usain had gotten first place he would be a reminder of their losses when they have to mention “past recipients” Even Rudisha knows Usain reserved it. Trust me.. who is Rudisha anyway. I never saw any cameras and flags and stadium waves reaching out to him. Not his fault but he’s not the man. Nope.

  16. We got the tyranny of no. as Kenya. We shall someday dominate the short distance too.salute to bolt too coz he’s a legend to it.

  17. Jacqui Clarke correction “White Americans”. WE black folks love Usain Bolt and our Jamaican Brothers and Sisters.

    *says the American born, Guyanese roots.

  18. Jacqui Clarke You nailed it. It’s based on a panel of biased still and always will be threatened American voters If Usain had gotten first place he would be a reminder of their losses when they have to mention “past recipients” Even Rudisha knows Usain reserved it. Trust me.. who is Rudisha anyway. I never saw any cameras and flags and stadium waves reaching out to him. Not his fault but he’s not the man. Nope.

  19. Not surprised at this outcome. I guess most of those who voted are Americans who are unhappy that Usain Bolt put the US into a 100m and 200m drought for the decade . They didn’t have anyone to compete with David Rudisha in his events so they love him… We know who is the athlete of the decade…

  20. David Rudisha is a great athlete and he deserve his place atop the chart…most of you people are Jamaicans and believe Jamaica must be on top.

    Usain Bolt is great, but people are missing the point that none of his world records came in the last decade…they we’re all from 2008 and 2009 when he was at his best…so don’t get it twisted .

    I remember when Stephen Francis said Bolt pass his best and a lot of you people cuss him and it turn out to be true


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