World's Greatest in Athletics, A Book Review for RunBlogRun, by Jeff Benjamin


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Updated January 6, 2016, 10 AM, updated link for website to purchase book:

I recieved my copy of the World's Greatest in Athletics about a week ago. I have been reading it ever since!

A standout print publication in a world where most information comes at a withering pace, and has to be outlandish to stand out. The World's Greatest in Athletics makes talking about the sport fun again.

Here is a fine review by Jeff Benjamin, one of our long time writers.

World's Greatest in Athletics

Book Review

By Jeff Benjamin

Let this writer attempt to convey to the running/track and field millennial geeks how things used to work before the Internet age. I'm harkening back to a time when we older fans had to deal with lots of anticipation, as we awaited results and rankings throughout the calendar year.

Someone who lived in this pre-1990s era would be anxiously awaiting the monthly arrivals of Track and Field News, The Runner, Runners World, Running Times and American Athletics (of course!) to catch up with the performances and profiles of our favorite athletes as well as monthly rankings in their respective events.

If one had a pretty good budget, you could subscribe to the Brit magazine Athletics Weekly as well! Communication with the hope of getting immediate results. This, however, was a VERY expensive proposition. Long-distance calling meant heavy bills to pay! One's devotion to the Sport was sorely tested in those years.

However, by the end of the year, one could get over to one of the bookstore giants usually located in the local shopping mall- stores like B. Dalton, Waldenbooks and the up and coming Barnes & Noble. The hope of acquiring that sought after annual book edited by Peter Matthews (and Mel Watman) aptly named "Athletics" with the year following the title. In these more than 600 pages would be the year in review in all the sports' disciplines, along with short bios on the Stars categorized by country and a plethora of all kinds of statistical results. A true nirvana for the fans!

Yet, for better or for worse, time has marched on, leaving in the dustbin of our history the way in which we get information, where, one can agree, is certainly more cheaper and faster to access in our quick-moving world. One would think that with all of our technological advances the influence and methods of Matthews would be rendered obsolete. After all, with a few seconds of using the Internet one can freely and quickly find all the stats and bios that would make any track fan quite satisfied.

Well, when it comes to Peter Matthews Richard Hymans and Jonas Hedman, they would be wrong.

In measure to our changing times, Matthews and his crew have combined the old with the new in their new book, "World's Greatest in Athletics". In the style of the old annual books, Matthews, Hymans and Hedman (all members of the ATFS) attempt to rank the top ten greatest of all-time both in the sport and in the events. Pages in the book are then given to show, in my humble opinion, the most comprehensive and detailed list of all- time performances in every event!

The names literally jump out at you as you see these great performances and marks listed right before one's eyes!

But on to the rankings.

If rankings have ever proved anything, it's that they will always be debated among fans and hopefully readers of this book in regards to placement. In their defense, the authors begin the book by going over their standards and criteria in making their selections. This is of course no easy task, and it makes one wonder if Matthews, Hedman and Hymans didn't spend many a day and night debating and arguing the athletes placement in their standards. It's kind of like when we all get together after a meet or a race and go into the eternal debates over who was better than the other.

Well, the next time you know you'll be going to one of these raucous get-togethers do yourself a favor and BRING THIS BOOK!! One will be well-prepared in going to battle on the athlete's behalf.

If you notice, not one name in the sport is listed in this article, all the more for fans to get their hands on this book. But I do have a couple of peeves to bring up with these authors- How is Frank Shorter only ranked 7th all-time in the Marathon and no mention of Steve Jones, even as an honorable mention?

Let the debates begin but make sure you have a copy of "World's Greatest in Athletics".

You won't be sorry!

To purchase this book, please go to

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