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  • Geb vs Nurmi

    I hear alot of Olympic experts declare Nurmi the greatest distance runner ever and alot of marathon expects declare Geb the greatest ever..which one is correct?

    I personally like El Guerrouj myself!

  • #2
    Re: Geb vs Nurmi

    Originally posted by parkerrclay
    I hear alot of Olympic experts declare Nurmi the greatest distance runner ever and alot of marathon expects declare Geb the greatest ever..which one is correct?

    I personally like El Guerrouj myself!

    I think Geb would win. Mainly 'cuz Nurmi's dead.

    :]


    [Good question; no idea.]

    Comment


    • #3
      The Geb vs. Nurmi thing is a very valid comparison. Nurmi's career record is obviously amazing, but--at this point--so is Geb's. And it's not hard to make the argument that the level of competition in Geb's era has been relatively tougher than in the 1920s...

      Comment


      • #4
        I agree..does the competition in Geb's day offset the fact that Nurmi was a little more dominant? Geb never doubled in a major competition and Nurmi did it multiple times. Is this a 2 man race for greatest ever? Or should we include Zatopek? I know Bekele is on his way to this company. I think El Guerrouj and Coe (among a few others) probably dont have the versatility to be included in this discussion.

        Comment


        • #5
          I would certainly rate Geb higher. Not only did Nurmi have much weaker
          competition, he also scored golds in cross-country and team events that are no
          longer available. It can be instructive to look at the overall medal tables of
          the time: Finland was arguably the second best country in the world of
          athletics, which shows how undeveloped the sport was.

          In fact, I am not at all sure that I would give Nurmi even second place.
          Consider the likes of Bekele, Viren, Zatopek, and Rono.

          (El G. is not a strong candidate, because he did most of his best work in the
          middle-distances.)

          Comment


          • #6
            I'm sure you are right about distance running being underdeveloped in the 20s but you cannot discount Nurmi either. His versatility and quick recovery are skills that even the great Geb would have trouble matching:

            In his career Nurmi broke 22 official world records, ranging from the 1,500 to 20,000 meters (Gev very comparable)

            His 10k record stood for 13 years - very impressive

            In 1924, he won five gold medals in five events, including the 1500 m, 5000 m (with only 26 minutes between the final races; he broke the world record for both of them) - something Geb never did in the same championships

            in 1925 and competed in 55 events (45 indoors and 10 outdoors) during a five-month period. He broke 39 world records (most of them unofficial world records) and won 53 of the events - this shows incredible stamina - no runenr ion their right mind would run 55 times in 1 season today

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by imaginative
              I would certainly rate Geb higher. Not only did Nurmi have much weaker
              competition, he also scored golds in cross-country and team events that are no
              longer available. It can be instructive to look at the overall medal tables of
              the time: Finland was arguably the second best country in the world of
              athletics, which shows how undeveloped the sport was.
              I'm sorry, I didn't hear you properly? You didn't say second, did you? :wink:

              The sport was, maybe, undeveloped. Paavo Nurmi was not. (Note that he was the first amateur distance runner to be indisputably stronger than any of the professional runners of before.) In peak form he completely dominated his opposition and could have brought all WRs from 1500 to 10000 to a whole new level in '24 if given the opportunity. Somebody who breaks two WRs in an hour has no competition (even if the quote saying this took place at Paris is inaccurate - it happened at Finland when he tested his stamina for the OG double - in Paris he just secured the golds, missing both WRs by a slight amount; and in any case - though the OG schedule officially did have the two finals half an hour apart - delays were a part of track meets already then, so he got a slightly longer rest than most legends say).

              Re: Finland, the reason we don't do so well anymore is something other than the sport being more developed...

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by LopenUupunut

                The sport was, maybe, undeveloped. Paavo Nurmi was not.
                Indeed not. However, an athlete who not only is immensly talented, but also
                goes up against an underdeveloped competition will naturally appear better than
                he is (compared to a similarly talented athlete in a developed competition).
                When we look at athletes like Nurmi, Hahn, Kraenzlein, Ewry, Lemming, or Hägg
                we have to take that into account.

                What would interest me: How do you Finns rate your various runners? In
                particular, where would you put Viren compared to Nurmi and Ritola?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by imaginative
                  What would interest me: How do you Finns rate your various runners? In
                  particular, where would you put Viren compared to Nurmi and Ritola?
                  Obviously, Nurmi is No. 1. In my opinion, Viren and Ritola are next in that order.

                  The lower level of competition at that time does not do justice for Nurmi. Had there been higher level, he would have been faster himself, too. Nothing can be taken away from his fantastic performances. Had he lived today, there is not one doubt he would be a multiple Finnish champion and possibly a major championship medalist too.

                  Generally, I think that the current dominance by Africa is misleading in a sense that the rise of Africa has been accompanied with recession amongst European distance runners. As a consequence, the Africans are not physically that superior they seem to be and we tend to believe, perhaps they are not physically superior at all. The Europeans are not anymore willing to sacrifice their lives for running, while the Africans certainly are; the motivations are from another planet. In a way, the situation of the Africans today is similar to the situation of Finns before WW II. They lived "at the woods", their work was physical and very hard, the plays of children consisted solely of outdoor activities, and hence the physical condition was superior to their descendants. Moreover, at that time track and field (together with cross-country skiing) was a synonym to sports. Today it is ice-hockey etc., sad but true.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by imaginative
                    Originally posted by LopenUupunut

                    The sport was, maybe, undeveloped. Paavo Nurmi was not.
                    Indeed not. However, an athlete who not only is immensly talented, but also
                    goes up against an underdeveloped competition will naturally appear better than
                    he is (compared to a similarly talented athlete in a developed competition).
                    Perhaps I'm wrong, but I've never considered Nurmi an example of an immensely talented runner. Obviously he did have some talent, as otherwise such achievements would be well beyond reach, but I think most of his success was a result of being an immensely motivated runner and working hard and systematically to reach his goals. As I said, he wasn't undeveloped; he was an amateur but trained like a professional. That, rather than talent, made the difference.

                    I would also argue to the exact opposite of what you say: going against an underdeveloped competition makes his '24 peak appear less impressive than it actually was because he didn't have to give his best. If he'd gone 3.46-14.00-29.10 in the heat of Paris - without any pacers, on the tracks of back then - a lot less people would argue against his case as the distance GOAT. But he preferred just walking away with wins (and wasn't allowed to run the 10k) - thus the only race there which gives us a glimpse of his true dominance was the cross country, where - unaffected by horrendous conditions - he beat Ritola (who in Nurmi's absence broke the 10k WR at those games) by almost 1½ minutes, without even looking very tired at the finish...

                    I agree with every aspect of mikli's post by the way.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      ``Talent'' was possibly not the best word. Let us go with ``ability'' instead.

                      As for the relative impressiveness, I think that we are misunderstanding each
                      other:

                      1. You say that running the times Nurmi ran is more impressive in low
                      competition, because there is no-one that pushes the athlete to reach his full
                      potential. This I agree whole-heartedly with.

                      2. I say that out-classing the competition in the way Nurmi did is easier when
                      the competition is weak. (I suspect that you, in turn, agree with this.)

                      From my POV, 2. is more relevant because Nurmi discussions usually center on
                      his superiority and medals (or on occasion WRs set). However, if we take the
                      alternate perspective that his times remained world class for several decades,
                      then 1. is obviously a strong pro-argument.

                      Comment

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