Association of Track and Field Statisticians

The Association of Track and Field Statisticians (ATFS) was founded in 1950. It is an international organization run by volunteers whose goal is to collect and disseminate the statistics of track and field athletics.


On 26 August 1950 at the Café de la Madeleine in the Rue de la Montagne, Brussels, Belgium, whilst attending the 1950 European Athletics Championships, the Association of Track and Field Statisticians was founded.[1]

Two of the founding members, Roberto Quercetani and Donald Potts, had published in 1948 the first study of world all-time lists, A Handbook on Olympic Games Track and Field Athletics. Readers of this book were inspired to found an international association of track statisticians. One of the founding members, the Belgian journalist André Greuze, organised the first meeting on 26 August. One of the meeting's first acts was to elect Harold Abrahams as honorary president.

Founding members

Note: two of the founders, Potts and Wünsche, were not actually present at the first meeting but are considered as founding members.[1]


The association has published an annual yearbook since 1951. The first edition was published in Lugano, Switzerland, titled The 1951 A.T.F.S. International Athletic Annual. The editors were Fulvio Regli and Roberto Quercetani. It is an authoritative compilation of international athletics statistics and has been known as The International Athletics Annual and The ATFS Annual. It is currently published under the title of Athletics: The International Track and Field Annual and its editor is Peter Matthews.

Previous editors and publishers
1951–52 Regli/Quercetani Tipografia "La Commerciale" S.A., Lugano
1953–55 World Sports magazine, London
1956–69 Roberto Quercetani
1970–72 Rooney Magnusson
1973–74 Vladimir Visek Bartels & Wernitz, West Berlin
1975–78Don PottsTrack & Field News, Los Altos, California
1979–83Nejat Kök Palle Lassen, København
1984Richard Hymans
1985–90 Peter MatthewsSports World, London
1991–92Burlington Publishing, London
1993–94Harmsworth Active, London
1995–2019SportsBooks, Worcester & Cheltenham

Roberto Quercetani

Roberto Luigi Quercetani (known as RLQ to other track and field statisticians[2])was one of the eleven founding members of ATFS and was also its first president, remaining in the position for 18 years.[3][4] He was also the editor of the first ATFS Annual.[5] and is a renowned historian and writer on athletics

Quercetani was born in Florence, Italy on May 3, 1922. He was interested in both foreign languages and athletics from an early age, his study in both helped by reading foreign newspapers sent by friends from Switzerland. After World War II, he served as a technical interpreter for the allied forces in Italy. Now fluent in English, French and German, he started writing articles for the foreign sporting publications Leichathletik of Germany, World Sports of the UK, and Track and Field News of the United States.[4][6]

In 1948, he wrote his first athletics statistical publication (with Don Potts).[3]

From 1951, Quercetani started as a long-time contributor to the Italian newspapers La Gazzetta dello Sport and La Nazione.[3][4]

In 1964 his first of many books on athletics was published: A World History of Track and Field Athletics 1864-1964.[3] He has since added a number of titles that cover the history of most of the events of athletics.

In 1994, he was founder member, and president until 1998, of the Archivo Storico Dell'Atletica Italiana "Bruno Bonomelli", an Italian non-profit-making cultural association dedicated to the history of Italian athletics.[7]

In 2010, under the chairmanship of Mel Watman, Quercetani was invited, as an acknowledged industry expert, to help write the book to celebrate the 2012 centenary of the governing body of athletics, the IAAF.[8][9]

In 2012, in acknowledgement of his life's achievements, Quercetani was awarded by the IAAF the IAAF Veteran Pin, their most important award.[10][11]

Quercetani died on May 13, 2019 at the age of 97.[12] He was survived by his wife Maria Luisa.[13]

Don Potts

Donald H. Potts was born December 13, 1921.[14] A degree in physics and a doctorate in mathematics led to a creer in industry and academia, including being professor of mathematics at Cal State Northridge from 1965 to 1991.[15][16]

An avid track fan from a young age, he and Roberto Quercetani compiled from 1948 the renowned annual world rankings in Track and Field News.[16]

He was a co-founder of ATFS and of the Federation of American Statisticians of Track (with Scott Davis and Stan Eales).[15]

He died November 1, 2001 in Santa Barbara, California.[15]

Executive committee members (until 2016)

Executive committee members (2021)


  1. Watman, Mel (2020-08-26). "Celebrating 70 years of the Association of Track and Field Statisticians". World Athletics..
  2. Hill, E. Gary (2019-05-01). "From The Editor — In Praise Of The Legendary RLQ". Track and Field News.
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-07-07. Retrieved 2013-07-12.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) About A.T.F.S., Association of Track and Field Statisticians.
  4. 'The 90 Years of Robert L. Quercetani', Federaziona Italiana de Atletica Leggera
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-07-07. Retrieved 2013-07-12.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) "A.T.F.S. ANNUAL", Association of Track and Field Statisticians.
  6. Athletics 2012 - Edited by Peter Matthews. Article - 'RLQ:Ninety and still going strong' by Bernard Linley: Sports Books. 2012. pp. 115–16. ISBN 9781907524233.
  7. "History and goals of the Association", A.S.A.I. "Bruno Bonomelli".
  8. "The 2012 IAAF", Mondo News. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  9. "A Very Special Birthday", German Road Races e.V. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  10. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-06-07. Retrieved 2013-07-12.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) "ROBERTO L. Quercetani AND ATHLETICS HALL OF FAME", Gustavo Pallicca,, April 7, 2012.
  11. "Quercetani – latest history book completed; receives the IAAF Veteran Pin" Archived 2014-05-03 at the Wayback Machine, German Road Races e.V. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  12. "RIP — Roberto Luigi Quercetani, Statman/Historian Nonpareil". Track and Field News. 2019-05-24.
  13. "Athletics historian Quercetani dies". World Athletics. 2019-05-14.
  14. "Notices of the AMS, Volume 55, Number 1" (PDF). American Mathematical Society. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  15. Ortega, John (10 November 2001). "D. Potts, 79; Track Statistician". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  16. Perelman, Rich (16 May 2019). "LANE ONE: Remembering an under-appreciated Founding Father of track & field: Roberto Quercetani". The Sports Examiner. Retrieved 9 September 2020.