14 Inspiring Track and Field World Records for the Ages

From sprinting in short bursts, through full-length marathons, to various jumps and throws, the various track and field world records all fit under the umbrella of “athletics.” Today, track and field is one of the most popular sports categories out there.

So who are the best athletics performers in the world? What are the track and fields records around the world? Read on to find out!

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Highlights of the Article

General Athletics Records

track and field world records

“Athletics” covers two types of sports events — track and field. We will have specific numbers in both categories below. For now, here are a handful of generally interesting records to get you started!

1. The latest 100-meter dash record is still slower than Usain Bolt’s record.


As of February 2021, the best recent time for the outdoor 100m dash was achieved by Justin Gatlin (USA). He achieved the time of 9.87s (with -0.1 wind) in 2019.

However, even though it’s the best recent result among masters track and field world records (Gatlin competed in the M35 category), it still falls behind Usain Bolt’s all-time world record from 2009.

2. There is a new world record in 60m hurdles.

(NBC Sports)

In February this year, Grant Holloway (USA) set a new world record in the non-Olympic discipline of 60m hurdles (indoor). He ran the course in 7.29 seconds at an athletic meet in Madrid.

The previous record was held by Colin Jackson (UK), who set it in 1994. The difference between his time and Holloway’s is just one-hundredth of a second.

3. The longest marathon in the world took over 50 years.

(Guinness World Records)

Among the various running world records, the “world’s longest marathon” is arguably one of the most interesting ones. A Japanese athlete, Shiso Kanakuri, started the marathon in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1912. He finished it after 54 years, 246 days, 5 hours, 32 minutes, 20.3 seconds.

The reason for this is that Kanakuri had collapsed from the heat shortly after starting the marathon. He was too embarrassed to admit it to the officials since this was Japan’s first global competition.

So, he secretly went home, and Sweden considered him a missing person — until 1967 when he was found in Japan by a TV crew. They convinced him to come back and officially finish the marathon.

Current Track and Field Records Around the World

When we say “world records in sports,” most of us think of “Olympic champions.” But winning the Olympic gold doesn’t guarantee winning first place in general.

Some track and field world records are, in fact, shared between different countries. Also, some of the best track and field results in the world are relatively old. Take a look!

4. The 100m world record is split between two countries.

(World Athletics)

The men’s 100m record is held by Usain Bolt from Jamaica (9.58 in 2009). The women’s 100m world record is held by Florence Griffith-Joyner from the US. She ran 10.49s in 1988.

5. Indoor and outdoor, the 400m world record is shared by four countries.

(World Athletics)

Among male athletes, Wayde Van Niekerk (South Africa) set the outdoor record in 2016 (43.03s). Indoor, the men’s 400m world record is held by Kerron Clement from the US. He achieved the time of 44.57s in 2005.

The outdoor women’s 400m world record is held by Marita Koch from the former German Democratic Republic (former East Germany, today Germany). She ran 47.60s in 1985. The fastest indoor 400m female runner is Jarmila Kratochvílová from Czechoslovakia (49.59s in 1982).

6. Three out of four long jump records haven’t been beaten since the 1980s.

(World Athletics)

The indoor women’s long jump record (7.37) was set in 1988 by Heike Drechsler (former German Democratic Republic). The outdoor record for long jump for women (7.52) was likewise set in 1988 by Galina Chistyakova (the former Soviet Union).

The indoor long jump record for men (8.79) was set in 1984 by Carl Lewis (USA). The outdoor record (8.95) was set in 1991 by Mike Powel (USA).

7. The women’s hammer throw world record has been standing since 2016.

(World Athletics)

The Polish athlete Anita Włodarczyk threw the hammer to the 82.98 mark in August 2016, and nobody has reached it since. Though that’s one of the newer records, so it’s yet to be seen how long it’ll stand.

8. The javelin world record hasn’t changed since 1996.

(World Athletics)

The best javelin throw in the world was performed by Jan Železný, a Czech athlete (now retired). He threw the javelin to the record 98.48 mark in May 1996.

Olympic Track and Field Records

The Olympics are the single most prestigious sports competition in the world and every athlete’s dream stage. The records set in these games are awe-inspiring achievements, so let’s take a look at who has the best Olympic results in track and field disciplines.

9. The Olympic long jump record is held by American athletes.

(World Athletics)

Both the men’s and women’s long jump event has American athletes as top performers. The men’s Olympic long jump record is held by Bob Beamon (8.90, set in 1968). The women’s record (7.40) was set in 1988 by Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

10. The holders of Olympic pole vaulting records are Russian and Brazilian.

(World Athletics)

The men’s record is held by Thiago Braz (Brazil), 6.03, set in 2016. The women’s Olympic pole vaulting record is held by Yelena Isinbayeva (Russia), 5.05, set in 2008.

11. The Olympic records in the middle-distance running are distributed among three nations.

(World Athletics)

Middle distance running in the Olympics encompasses the 800m run and the 1500m run (the metric mile). The 1500m record for men is held by Kenya (Noah Ngeny, 3:32.07, in 2000). The women’s mile record is held by Romania (Paula Ivan, 3:53.96, in 1988).

The 800m records are held by Kenya (David Rudisha, 1:40.91, in 2012) and the former Soviet Union (Nadezhda Olizarenko, 1:53.43, in 1980).

12. The Olympic 200m records are split between Jamaica and the USA.

(World Athletics)

The champion female athlete is Florence Griffith-Joyner, from the US, who set the undefeated record of 21.34 in 1988. Among male athletes, the reigning champion is Usain Bolt, whose 200m record of 19.30 in 2008 has not yet been beaten.

13. The best Olympic marathon runners are from Kenya and Ethiopia.

(World Athletics)

Among the various Olympic running records, marathon races are completely dominated by Eastern African athletes.

The best female Olympic marathon runner is Tiki Gelana from Ethiopia (2:23.07, run in 2012). The best male athlete in the category is a Kenyan, Samuel Kamau Wanjiru (ran 2:06.32 in 2008).

14. Olympic high jump records are split between Russia and the USA.

(World Athletics)

Among women, the title is held by Yelena Slesarenko, who jumped to the 2.06 mark in 2004. Among men, the record is held by Charles Austin, who jumped to 2.39 in 1996.


Although the Olympic stage is the most renowned measuring stick of sporting success, it certainly is not the only one. There are impressive results among non-Olympic categories and track and field world records as well. Moreover, there is a distinct trend of certain countries or regions excelling in some disciplines.

If you’re looking to place some sports bets, stats and demographics are your best ally. So make use of the names and numbers we gathered for you here, and see who might be favored by fortune in the track and field world in 2023 and onward.


Who is the fastest runner in the world?

It depends on the event. Usain Bolt holds the world record for 100m (9.58) and 200m (19.19). In the 300m race, the best time (30.81) is held by Wayde Van Niekerk.

The men’s half-marathon record holder is Kibiwott Kandie (57:32). The fastest marathon runner is Eliud Kipchoge at 2:01.39.

What is the fastest mile time?

Among male athletes, the fastest outdoor mile time was achieved by Hicham El Guerrouj (3:43.13). The indoor 1-mile world record is held by Yomif Kejelcha (3:47.01).

Among female athletes, the fastest outdoor mile runner is Sifan Hassan at 4:12.33. As for the indoor running, Genzebe Dibaba is first, with the time mark of 4:13.31.

How fast does Usain Bolt run?

Usain Bolt holds the record times of 9.58 seconds in the 100m sprint and 19.19 seconds in the 200m dash.

What is the oldest track and field world record?

The title of oldest record in track and field is shared by two women.

Jarmila Kratochvílová holds the oldest record for the 800m race. Her time is 1:53.28, and that record is 38 years standing at the moment. She set it in 1983.

Marita Koch holds the oldest record for the 400m race. Her time is 47.60, and she set it in 1985, 36 years ago.

Who held the 100m record before Bolt?

Usain Bolt set the current world record for 100m in 2009, achieving the time of 9.58 seconds. Before that, the world record was held by Asafa Powell, who, like Bolt, is a Jamaican athlete. Powell set two track and field world records — 9.77 seconds in 2005, then upped it to 9.74 in 2007.

What is the fastest 1600-meter time?

The 1600-meter race is an event in American high school athletics. It is effectively the equivalent of the one-mile race (outside international competitions which use the 1500 meter-long metric mile).

The fastest 1600-meter time is held by Alan Webb. He set the American high school record in 2001, with the time of 3:53.43.

Who are the top 5 fastest runners?

The five fastest runners in the world, as of 2020, are:

  1. Justin Gatlin (USA) — 100m record: 9.74 seconds.
  2. Asafa Powell (Jamaica) — 100m record: 9.72 seconds.
  3. Yohan “The Beast” Blake (Jamaica) — 100m record: 9.69 seconds (tied with Tyson Gay).
  4. Tyson Gay (USA) — 100m record: 9.69 seconds (tied with Yohan Blake).
  5. Usain Bolt (Jamaica) — 100m record: 9.58 seconds.