Longest Lived Olympic Athletics Records

What are the longest lived Olympic records? Well, Olympic records can only be set in certain sports. At the Summer Games, this includes athletics (track & field), swimming, shooting, weightlifting, archery, and Olympic bests are usually considered now in rowing and canoeing. At the Winter Games, the measured sports are speed skating and short-track speed skating, with the best jumps measured in ski jumping.

Let’s consider only athletics at the Summer Olympics for starters. And we have to make some assumptions, as we commonly do. We’re going to consider marks that have lasted the most Olympics, because the gap from 1936-48 and 1912-20 artificially made records last longer that were set in 1912 or 1932-36. So we’ll consider Olympics Between (OlyBT below) and Years Between (YrsBT below). Also, some marks were set a number of Olympics ago but are still the best on record. We’ll consider all of those to last until 2016 (at a minimum, that is true).

Given that, here are all the athletics Olympic records that have lasted 20+ years or 5 or more Olympics.

OlyBT YrBT Event Mark Athlete(s) NOC Year City
12 48 LJ 8.90A Bob Beamon USA 1968 Mexico City
7 28 Steeplechase 8:05.51 Julius Kariuki KEN 1988 Seoul
7 28 SP 22.47 Ulf Timmermann GDR 1988 Seoul
7 28 HT 84.80 Sergey Litvinov URS 1988 Seoul
6 24 400 43.86A Lee Evans USA 1968 Mexico City
6 24 5K 13:05.59 Saïd Aouita MAR 1984 Los Angeles
6 24 Marathon 2-09:21.0 Carlos Lopes POR 1984 Los Angeles
6 24 400IH 46.78 Kevin Young USA 1992 Barcelona
6 24 4×400 2:56.16A Matthews/Freeman/James/Evans USA 1968 Mexico City
6 24 LJ 7.765 Bob LeGendre USA 1924 Paris
5 24 HT 54.74 Matt McGrath USA 1912 Stockholm
5 20 100 9.95A Jim Hines USA 1968 Mexico City
5 20 200 [21.6] Archie Hahn USA 1904 St. Louis
5 20 400 43.49 Michael Johnson USA 1996 Atlanta
5 20 50KM Wk 3-38:29 Vyacheslav Ivanenko URS 1988 Seoul
5 20 HJ 2.39 Charles Austin USA 1996 Atlanta
5 20 TJ 17.39A Viktor Saneyev URS 1968 Mexico City
5 20 TJ 18.09 Kenny Harrison USA 1996 Atlanta
5 20 Deca 8847 Daley Thompson GBR 1984 Los Angeles
3 20 4×400 3:08.2 Fuqua/Ablowich/Warner/Carr USA 1932 Los Angeles
3 20 JT 72.71 Matti Järvinen FIN 1932 Los Angeles
9 36 800 1:53.43 Nadezhda Olizarenko URS 1980 Moscow
9 36 SP 22.41 Ilona Schoknecht-Slupianek GDR 1980 Moscow
8 32 4×100 41.60 Müller/Eckert-Wöckel/Auerswald-Lange/Oelsner-Göhr GDR 1980 Moscow
7 28 100 10.62 Florence Griffith Joyner USA 1988 Seoul
7 28 200 21.34 Florence Griffith Joyner USA 1988 Seoul
7 28 1500 3:54.0 Paula Ivan ROU 1988 Seoul
7 28 4×400 3:15.18 Ledovskaya/Nazarova/Pinigina/Bryzgina URS 1988 Seoul
7 28 LJ 7.40 Jackie Joyner-Kersee USA 1988 Seoul
7 28 DT 72.30 Martina Hellmann GDR 1988 Seoul
7 28 Hept 7291 Jackie Joyner-Kersee USA 1988 Seoul
5 20 400 48.25 Marie-José Pérec FRA 1996 Atlanta
1 32 800 2:16.8 Lina Radke-Batschauer GER 1928 Amsterdam

Now there are caveats, as there usually are. Beamon’s miracle long jump in Mexico City will last at least 48 years, through 2016, and likely longer, as there is nobody on the horizon about to better 8.90 metres. But the mark was altitude-aided, and the Association of Track & Field Statisticians (ATFS), of which I am a member, usually considers altitude-aided marks in the sprints and horizontal jumps differently. The next best among men, and the top two marks for women, were both set in the 1980s, and shall we say, there are a number of rumors about marks set in that era. If you look at the women’s marks, unfortunately, everything was set from 1980-88 until we get to Marie-José Péréc’s 400 metre mark of 48.25 set in Atlanta in 1996. Please also note Lina Radke-Batschauer’s 800 metre mark from Amsterdam. While it lasted until 1960, it only lasted 1 Olympics, because women did not run the 800 metres from 1932-56.

Of the remaining men’s marks, the one that looks to me to have the best chance to continue to rule is Kevin Young’s 400 hurdles mark of 46.78, set in Barcelona. He remains the only hurdler to better 47 seconds, and nobody is threatening that mark these days. Among the women, nobody is approaching all those Olympic records from the 1980s.

What about the best marks by event. Here they are, for men and women, with a few extras thrown in to cover the various “yeah, buts …”:

Men

OlyBT YrBT Event Mark Athlete(s) NOC Year City
5 20 100 9.95A Jim Hines USA 1968 Mexico City
5 20 200 21.6 Archie Hahn USA 1904 St. Louis
6 24 400 43.86A Lee Evans USA 1968 Mexico City
5 20 400 43.49 Michael Johnson USA 1996 Atlanta
4 16 800 1:42.58 Vebjørn Rodal NOR 1996 Atlanta
3 16 800 1:51.9 Ted Meredith USA 1912 Stockholm
2 16 800 1:49.7 Tommy Hampson GBR 1932 Los Angeles
4 16 1500 3:34.91 Kip Keino KEN 1968 Mexico City
4 16 1500 3:32.53 Sebastian Coe GBR 1984 Los Angeles
4 16 1500 3:32.07 Noah Ngeny KEN 2000 Sydney
2 16 1500 3:47.8 Jack Lovelock NZL 1936 Berlin
6 24 5K 13:05.59 Saïd Aouita MAR 1984 Los Angeles
4 16 10K 27:38.34 Lasse Virén FIN 1972 Munich
2 16 10K 30:11.4 Janusz Kusociński POL 1932 Los Angeles
6 24 Marathon 2-09:21.0 Carlos Lopes POR 1984 Los Angeles
7 28 Steeplechase 8:05.51 Julius Kariuki KEN 1988 Seoul
3 12 110HH 13.24 Rod Milburn USA 1972 Munich
3 12 110HH 12.91 Liu Xiang CHN 2004 Athens
2 12 110HH 15.0 Forrest Smithson USA 1908 London
1 12 110HH 14.1 Forrest Towns USA 1936 Berlin
6 24 400IH 46.78 Kevin Young USA 1992 Barcelona
3 12 20K Wk 1-19:57 Jozef Pribilinec TCH 1988 Seoul
3 12 20K Wk 1-18:59 Robert Korzeniowski POL 2000 Sydney
5 20 50K Wk 3-38:29 Vyacheslav Ivanenko URS 1988 Seoul
4 16 4×100 37.40 Marsh/Burrell/Mitchell/Lewis USA 1992 Barcelona
6 24 4×400 2:56.16A Matthews/Freeman/James/Evans USA 1968 Mexico City
5 20 HJ 2.39 Charles Austin USA 1996 Atlanta
2 16 PV 4.35 Earle Meadows USA 1936 Berlin
2 8 PV 4.09 Frank Foss USA 1920 Antwerp
2 8 PV 5.78 Władysław Kozakiewicz POL 1980 Moscow
2 8 PV 5.90 Sergey Bubka URS 1988 Seoul
2 8 PV 5.92 Jean Galfione FRA 1996 Atlanta
2 8 PV 5.92 Igor Trandenkov RUS 1996 Atlanta
2 8 PV 5.92 Andrej Tiwontschik GER 1996 Atlanta
12 48 LJ 8.90A Bob Beamon USA 1968 Mexico City
6 24 LJ 7.765 Bob LeGendre USA 1924 Paris
5 20 TJ 17.39A Viktor Saneyev URS 1968 Mexico City
5 20 TJ 18.09 Kenny Harrison USA 1996 Atlanta
7 28 SP 22.47 Ulf Timmermann GDR 1988 Seoul
3 12 DT 68.28 Mac Wilkins USA 1976 Montreal
3 12 DT 69.89 Virgilijus Alekna LTU 2004 Athens
2 12 DT 45.21 Armas Taipale FIN 1912 Stockholm
1 12 DT 50.48 Ken Carpenter USA 1936 Berlin
7 28 HT 84.80 Sergey Litvinov URS 1988 Seoul
3 20 JT 72.71 Matti Järvinen FIN 1932 Los Angeles
3 12 JT 85.71 Egil Danielsen NOR 1956 Melbourne
3 12 JT 94.58 Miklós Németh HUN 1976 Montreal
5 20 Deca 8847 Daley Thompson GBR 1984 Los Angeles

Women

OlyBT YrBT Event Mark Athlete(s) NOC Year City
7 28 100 10.62 Florence Griffith Joyner USA 1988 Seoul
7 28 200 21.34 Florence Griffith Joyner USA 1988 Seoul
5 20 400 48.25 Marie-José Pérec FRA 1996 Atlanta
9 36 800 1:53.43 Nadezhda Olizarenko URS 1980 Moscow
7 28 1500 3:54.0 Paula Ivan ROU 1988 Seoul
4 16 5K 14:40.79 Gabriela Szabo ROU 2000 Sydney
2 8 10K 31:05.21 Olga Bondarenko URS 1988 Seoul
2 8 10K 30:17.49 Derartu Tulu ETH 2000 Sydney
2 8 10K 29:54.66 Tirunesh Dibaba ETH 2008 Beijing
4 16 Marathon 2-24:52 Joan Benoit USA 1984 Los Angeles
4 16 100HH 12.38 Yordanka Donkova BUL 1988 Seoul
2 8 400IH 53.17 Debbie Flintoff-King AUS 1988 Seoul
2 8 400IH 52.82 Deon Hemmings JAM 1996 Atlanta
2 8 400IH 52.64 Melaine Walker JAM 2008 Beijing
2 8 Steeplechase 8:58.81 Gulnara Galkina-Samytova RUS 2008 Beijing
2 8 20KM Wk 1-29:05 Wang Liping CHN 2000 Sydney
8 32 4×100 41.60 Müller/Eckert-Wöckel/Auerswald-Lange/Oelsner-Göhr GDR 1980 Moscow
7 28 4×400 3:15.18 Ledovskaya/Nazarova/Pinigina/Bryzgina URS 1988 Seoul
3 12 HJ 2.06 Yelena Slesarenko RUS 2004 Athens
2 16 HJ 1.67 Jean Shiley USA 1932 Los Angeles
2 8 PV 5.05 Yelena Isinbayeva RUS 2008 Beijing
7 28 LJ 7.40 Jackie Joyner-Kersee USA 1988 Seoul
3 12 TJ 15.33 Inessa Kravets UKR 1996 Atlanta
9 36 SP 22.41 Ilona Schoknecht-Slupianek GDR 1980 Moscow
7 28 DT 72.30 Martina Hellmann GDR 1988 Seoul
1 4 HT 71.16 Kamila Skolimowska POL 2000 Sydney
1 4 HT 75.02 Olga Kuzenkova RUS 2004 Athens
1 4 HT 76.34 Aksana Miankova BLR 2008 Beijing
1 4 HT 78.18 Tatyana Lysenko RUS 2012 London
3 12 JT 74.68 Petra Felke-Meier GDR 1988 Seoul
3 12 JT 71.53 Osleidys Menéndez CUB 2004 Athens
2 8 Pent 5246 Irina Press URS 1964 Tokyo
2 8 Pent 4801 Mary Peters GBR 1972 Munich
7 28 Hept 7291 Jackie Joyner-Kersee USA 1988 Seoul

We’ll look at a similar analysis for the swimming Olympic records in a few weeks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *