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espnW ranks top jocks

Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who won a silver medal in

Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who won a silver medal in 1984 and a bronze medal in 1996 . . . and five other medals in between. Credit: AP

ESPN’s companywide initiative, “The Power of IX,’’ to celebrate Saturday's 40th anniversary of Title IX, has all sorts of impressive, ambitious elements. But given my limited attention span the best part has been espnW’s countdown of the top 40 female athletes of the past 40 years.

The network has announced its top five but only will reveal the order as it profiles one each night this week on SportsCenter.

The finalists are Mia Hamm, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Lisa Leslie, Martina Navratilova and Annika Sorenstam. My vote, if I had one, would go to Joyner-Kersee in a close call over Navartilova.

Laura Gentile, espnW’s vice president, would not say. But she offered this possible hint regarding Martina: “As a kid out of those five she was just always in the news and always so dominant and just, wow, she was like the pinnacle.’’

Gentile was a field hockey star at Sachem High and later Duke, from which she graduated in 1994. Title IX had begun to take hold by then, and she said girls sports mostly were on equal footing at Sachem.

“I was fortunate,’’ she said. “In terms of coaching and support and access to the weight room, we really had it all.’’

New York Sports