USA’s respected financial publication The Wall Street Journal recently drew together a panel of 5 judges, to study the achievements of 79 male sportsmen across all sports, and decided that Czech Roman Sebrle, the World Decathlon record holder, is currently the world’s greatest sportsman.
While the study was “not completely scientific” as The Wall Street Journal itself admits, it asked its panel to rank the sportsmen based on six criteria: speed; vision and reflex; stamina and recovery; coordination and flexibility; power, strength and size; and success and competitiveness.
The final category examined success - records held and victories - as well as competitiveness, based on the sport's popularity. Soccer, for example, the world's most popular sport, was judged the most competitive.
The panel gave a total score for each athlete in the first round. Sixty athletes were eliminated in the second round, either because of low scores or because they were not first in their field.
The panelists then made the final ranking with Yale statistician John Emerson helping to normalize the scores so no single panel member could exert undue influence.
In the overall scoring, track and field athletics faired very well with World and Olympic champions Liu Xiang (110m Hurdles) and Jeremy Wariner (400m) also making the top 10, against their contemporaries from football, boxing, golf, tennis etc….
Results of a study of women sports stars will follow in a separate article.
Vera Stiegler for the IAAF
Click here to read more about The Wall Street Journal’s sports poll
Click here to see the listing of the world’s greatest athletes