The Top Eight Male Field Athletes of All Time

Tom DaleCorrespondent ISeptember 27, 2010

The Top Eight Male Field Athletes of All Time

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    GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN - AUGUST 09:  Jan Zelezny of the Czech Republic competes during the Men's Javelin throw Final on day three of the 19th European Athletics Championships at the Ullevi Stadium on August 9, 2006 in Gothenburg, Sweden.  (Photo by Michael St
    Michael Steele/Getty Images

    When asked I can tell people that I "ran" track in college.

    The truth of the matter is the only place I ever ran was over to my cooler full of food. So yes, I'm a field guy, and I wanted to pay some tribute to the greatest athletes to dominate field events during the modern era.

    Enjoy and feel free to let me know if you think I've overlooked someone.

Long Jump: Bob Beamon (USA)

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    18 Oct 1968: Bob Beamon #254 of the USA breaking the Long Jump World Record during the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, Mexico. Beamon long jumped 8.9 m (29 ft 2 1/2 in), winning the gold medal and setting a new world record. It is the first jump over 2
    Tony Duffy/Getty Images

    Man this is a tough one, but I had to go with American Bob Beamon. My reasoning is fairly obvious, gold medal at the 1968 Olympics and a world record that stood for 23 years is just staggering.

    Mind boggling when you consider the influence of performance enhancing drugs. I will say that I also gave serious consideration to both Carl Lewis and Mike Powell.

Triple Jump: Jonathan Edwards (GBR)

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    6 Aug 2001:  Jonathan Edwards of Great Britian celebrates during the Men's Triple Jump Event for the IAAF World Championships at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.Mandatory Credit: Adam Pretty/AUS  /Allsport
    Adam Pretty/Getty Images

    In 1995, Great Britain's Jonathan Edwards became the first man to break the 60-foot barrier. In 2002, Edwards completed track and field's equivalent of a Grand Slam. Adding to his Olympic gold medal from 2000 games, he won gold medals from the other three majors (World Championships, Commonwealth Games & European Championships).

    He continues to own the current world record in long jump at 18.29m which he set back in 1995. 

High Jump: Javier Sotomayor (CUB)

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    24 Sep 2000:  High jumper Javier Sotomayor of Cuba clears the bar during the Men's High Jump Final at Olympic Stadium in Sydney, Australia during the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics.  Mandatory Credit:  Mike Powell /Getty Images
    Mike Powell/Getty Images

    You could make some good arguments with the high jump. Dick Fosbury is obviously the most influential jumper. American Dwight Stones had a nice run, albeit with limited Olympic success, during the 1970s.

    However, when you consider the total body of work, nobody can touch Cuba's Javier Sotomayor. It is too bad that Sotomayor's career had to have been influenced by politics with Cuba having boycotted both the 1984 and 1988 Olympic games. When he did have his next chance at the games in Barcelona (1992) he took home the gold.

    He owns 17 of the best 24 jumps ever, and is still the only person ever to have cleared eight feet. His world record of 2.45 m has stood since 1993.

Pole Vault: Sergey Bubka (URS)

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    1991:  Sergey Bubka of the USSR celebrates during the Pole Vault event of the IAAF Grand Prix at the Lokomotiv Stadium in Moscow, Russia. Bubka finished in first place with a New World Record height of 6.08 metres. \ Mandatory Credit: Gary  Mortimore/Alls
    Gray Mortimore/Getty Images

    When I started writing this article I didn't realize just how dominante Sergey Bubka was. While competing for the former Soviet Union and eventually Ukraine, Bubka was the first man to clear 6.0 meters, and still to this day the only man to have cleared 20 feet.

    Bubka was six consecutive World Championships rom 1983 to 1997. While his Olympic career could best be described as unlucky, he did win an Olympic gold medal at the Seoul games in 1988.

    Beyond the records and medal counts his lasting contribution to the sport was to change the technical model of vaulting - driving the pole up rather than bending it at the plant. 

Shot Put: Parry O'Brien (USA)

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    Thought I was going with Randy Barnes here?

    Before the spin there was the glide.  Over the years the United States has produced a long list of the world's top shot putters, but for the past 50 years you can trace them all back to Parry O'Brien.

    O'Brien won two Olympic gold medals (1952, 1956), one silver medal (1960), and placed fourth at the 1964 Olympics.

    Before O'Brien, shot putting looked much like today's warm up throws with just a hip turn and foot switch. O'Brien's lasting legacy was the invention of the slide technique - where you start the throw facing the back of the circle and rotate 180 degrees during the throw.

Discus Throw: Al Oerter (USA)

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    1980:  Al Oerter of the USA prepares to throw the discus for Men's Discus Track and Field event at the U.S. Team Trials for the Olympic Games.  Coming out of retirement to compete, Oerter had won the gold for discus at the 1956, 1960, 1964 and 1968 Summer
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Talk about a freak of nature. Accomplishments aside, American discuss thrower Al Oerter would be a legend based only on his longevity. He won Olympic golds in four consecutive games from 1956 to 1968.

    It gets better. In 1980 at the age of 43, Oerter finished fourth and just missed qualifying for the Untied States Olympic team.

    DId I mention that he won his third gold at the Tokyo games with torn rib cartilage that prevented him from taking his last throw?

Hammer Throw: Yuriy Sedykh (URS)

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    This was another tough one. I think you could have made an argument for Belarusian Ivan Tikhon in another year or two had it not been for his doping suspension. Then again it is probably fairly safe to assume that the athletes from the old USSR weren't doing it by eating their Wheaties.

    At the end of the day I decided to go with the Soviet (Ukranian) Yuriy Sedykh. Sedykh won Olympic golds in Montreal (1976) and Moscow (1980). He added to his collection with a silver at the Seoul games in 1988.

    Had the Soviets not boycotted Los Angeles in 1984 he may vey well have been a three time Olympic gold medalist.

    For good measure throw in a World Championship gold and three European Championships. 

Javelin Throw: Jan Železný (TCH)

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    GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN - AUGUST 07:  Jan Zelezny of the Czech Republic prepares to throw during the Men's Javelin throw Qualifying Round on day one of the 19th European Athletics Championships at the Ullevi Stadium on August 7, 2006 in Gothenburg, Sweden.  (P
    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    I saved the best for last, since this is a slam dunk. Forget about the changes to the javelin in 1986, and differences in records, it doesn't matter. Železný's resume includes three Olympic golds (1992, 1996, 2000), a silver (1988), and three World Championships.

    The Czechoslovakian has held the world record since 1996 with a mark of 98.48 metres. That's 323 feet, for all you kids out there.