Michael Johnson after setting his 43.18 World record at the 1999 World Championships in Seville (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News London, Great Britain

Track and Field Athletes at the top of the Reuters polls

Lance Armstrong, who defeated cancer then won the Tour de France, has been voted this year's Reuters sports personality of the year.

Armstrong led an American sweep of the first five places, scoring 122 points out of a possible 280, ahead of sprinter Michael Johnson in second place on 108 points with French and U.S. Open champion Andre Agassi third with 96.

Sprinter Maurice Greene came fourth with 78 points followed by golfer Tiger Woods in fifth place with 72 points.

Fifty-six sports editors and journalists from 36 countries ranked the leading five sportsmen and women from a 30-strong list compiled by Reuters journalists. Five points were awarded for first place, four points for second, three for third, two for fourth and one for fifth.

Second-placed Johnson, the Olympic 200 and 400 metres gold medallist, broke the 11-year-old world 400 record at the Seville World Championships in August when he clocked 43.18 seconds.

"An outstanding achievement in breaking the 400 metre world record, cementing his position as one of the great athletes of all time," said Clive Ellis at The Daily Telegraph in Britain.

Johnson won a record ninth world championships title this year, beating the previous best of eight gold medals held by Carl Lewis.

"Johnson is a sports phenomenon. By breaking the world record for what I consider the toughest race in athletics he has shown that he is a superhuman. This record will stand for a long time." said Godfrey Robert of the Straits Times in Singapore.

Maurice Greene won plaudits from journalists for breaking the world 100 metres record and becoming the first man to complete the world 100 and 200 metres double.

"Breaking the world record in 100 metres is one of the greatest achievements in life for an athlete," said Gert Roets of Supersport International in South Africa.

Brazilian striker Rivaldo bagged 49 points in the survey ahead of Finland's Formula One champion Mika Hakkinen on 46 points. Hakkinen retained the title this year at the final showdown of the season in Japan.

Steffi Graf finished eighth with 31 points after dominating women's tennis for the past 10 years. Graf won the French Open in June before announcing her retirement.

Romanian middle distance runner Gabriela Szabo and world undisputed heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis from Britain rounded out the Reuters top 10. Szabo gained 26 points while Lewis collected 22.

French World Cup hero Zinedine Zidane won the Reuters sports personality of the year survey in 1998.

Following is a table of the top 10 sports personalities of the year as voted by senior sports journalists around the world.

1. Lance Armstrong Cycling U.S. 122
2. Michael Johnson Athletics U.S. 108
3. Andre Agassi Tennis U.S. 96
4. Maurice Greene Athletics U.S. 78
5. Tiger Woods Golf U.S. 72
6. Rivaldo Soccer Brazil 49
7. Mika Hakkinen Motor Racing Finland 46
8. Steffi Graf Tennis Germany 31
9. Gabriela Szabo Athletics Romania 26
10. Lennox Lewis Boxing Britain 22

Reuters for the IAAF