IAAF Athlete of the Year: Ahem, what about Ashton Eaton?

The list of the top three vote-getters for IAAF men’s track and field athlete of the year was released this week and the newspapers in Britain declared that Mo Farah was snubbed because he didn’t make the top three.

Instead, it’s Usain Bolt, David Rudisha and Aries Merritt.

If the Brits are feeling upset that (part-time Portland resident) Mo didn’t make the cut, then aren’t we in Oregon entitled to the same reaction that Ashton Eaton isn’t on the short list?

In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter a great deal whether any one prefers apples to oranges.

Mo is great-great, the greatest distance runner in the world — and perhaps the lone remaining barrier to Portland native Galen Rupp some day having that title.

But Ashton Eaton is the world’s greatest athlete. In 2012 he not only broke the world record in the decathlon (in the rain), he also stepped up in London and won the gold medal. Now, one achievement without the other, probably bumps him down a few pegs. But he nailed down both.

We get that Usain Bolt is the fastest man in history and the world’s most popular track athlete. But he didn’t run faster than he has in previous years.

World records by David Rudisha and Aries Merritt … there is no reason to criticize those achievements. They represent perfection.

But Eaton should not have been penalized, or disregarded, by the panelists who voted on this simply because he is a relative newcomer to global athletics and lags behind in name recognition. No one embodies the good-guy sense of fair play that track and field should be embracing any better than Eaton.

And I’d take Eaton to win at least eight of 10 events against any of the final three. Remember, this is a guy who is the fastest decathlete of all-time (across all of the running events) and is a 27-foot long jumper and 17-foot pole vaulter. (Yes, I get that the 400s vs. Bolt and Rudisha would be at best a toss-up).

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