ESPN does an annual dominant performances list, called the Dominant 20, where they reflect upon some of the greatest sporting moments of the year past. The 2018 list placed gymnast Simone Biles as number one, and Eliud Kipchoge and his marathon world record as number two. Their graded list measures athletes on their performances from the year’s previous season.
According to ESPN, their methodology is as follows, “We started by grading athletes by the strongest performance measures available in their sport over their most recently completed season (except F1 numbers, which are through Nov. 11, and NFL numbers, which are through Nov. 26), including timed scores, earnings and, wherever possible, advanced metrics.”
Biles was awarded the top spot based on her performance at the 2018 World Championships. Biles became the first American athlete to medal in every event at the world championships, and reportedly did so following a night spent in the hospital due to a kidney stone. According to ESPN, her dominance rating was 3.248.
Kipchoge’s dominance rating was under Biles’ at 2.355. ESPN described Kipchoge as a colossus. “Prior to Berlin, the 34-year-old Kipchoge was arguably the most decorated marathoner on the planet, with nine wins in the 10 marathons he’d entered (he finished second in Berlin in 2013), including gold at the 2016 Olympics.” And then he set a world record.
Remember when Kipchoge passed through the first 10km in 29:01 and everyone got excited because he was 30sec inside WR pace?
That was actually the slowest 10km segment of his race.
His 10km splits:
His last 10km (from 32.195 to 42.195km) was ~28:33.
— Jon Mulkeen (@Statman_Jon) September 16, 2018
What Kipchoge did was unfathomable to most runners, even really good runners. ESPN acknowledged that saying, “There’s fast, there’s really fast, then there’s Kipchoge over 26.2 miles.” Making this list places an athlete in a category of once-in-a-lifetime athleticism, and Kipchoge’s record was certainly that.
Despite being recognized by ESPN, the IAAF, the United Nations and many other organizations for his record, Kipchoge wasn’t recognized by Kenya on Jamhuri Day (Republic Day). The national holiday hosts the country’s Chief of the Order awards which acknowledges some of Kenya’s best and brightest citizens. Kipchoge was conspicuously excluded from the list of 406 award recipients.