Top 5 Athletics World Records

Records are made to be broken, and while we see a new record being set as time passes with better and stronger athletes competing in various sports, some of the records set years ago are so good, there is seemingly no one that can break them. In this article, we will look at the 5 most impressive athletic world records that pushed the limits of athletes’ bodies and raised the question; Will we ever see anyone breaking them?

Jonathan Edwards of Great Britain
Jonathan Edwards of Great Britain (foreground) surrounded by photographers after setting a world record whilst winning the triple jump event at the World Athletics Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden on 7th August 1995. (Photo by Leo Mason/Popperfoto/Getty Images)
  1. Triple Jump; Jonathan Edwards 1995 (18.29m/60ft)

“The British Kangaroo” is an appropriate nickname for the British triple jumper, who even after 23 years still holds the World record in the triple jump. The margin to beat the World record does not need to be large and if there is someone who is well aware of that, it would be Edwards. He set his 1st World record back on July 18, 1995, when he beat the previous World record of 17.97m (58.95 ft) held by Willie Banks by a single centimeter. Edwards then managed to break his own World record twice in the upcoming weeks. In the World Championship 1995, which was held in Gothenburg, Sweden, Edwards became the first athlete to jump over 18 meters (59ft) with his 18.16m (59.6ft) jump on his 1st attempt. In his 2nd attempt, he jumped even further, setting the record of 18.29m (60ft), which is still set in stone and waits for someone to break it for long 23 years. That jump saw him finishing an astonishing 67cm (2.2ft) in front of his competition in the championship. Up to this date, Christian Taylor who jumped 18.21cm (59.7ft) was the closest anyone has been to breaking the record.

  1. Pole vault; Renaud Lavillenie 2014 (6.16m/20.21ft)

It was the year 2014 and at that time the record set 20 years ago still stood firm. 6.14m (20.14ft) was the record to beat, set by the well-known Sergey Bubka, who was holding the world record since 1984 when he set a record of 5.94m (19.48ft). That was also the last time anyone managed to challenge Bubka. The so-called challenger was no other than Thierry Vigneron, who set a new record of 5.91m (19.38ft), beating Bubka’s previous record of 5.90m (19.36ft). But the French record did not hold for long, as Bubka managed to beat it by 3 cm (0.1ft) in the next jump. Since then, Bubka pushed to reach the new heights, eventually settling at 6.14m (20.14ft) which he reached in 1994. 20 years later another Frenchman came and challenged Bubka’s record, only this time France won. Renaud Lavillenie, Olympic medallist and 3-time World Champion set the bar 2 cm (0.06ft) higher with a new world record of 6.16m (20.21ft). Since then, there was no other jumper who came close to breaking or even reaching the record.

  1. Long Jump; Mike Powell 1991

The running long jump or just long jump, in short, is among the most popular track and field events. For this record, we are traveling back to 1991 to Tokyo, where we saw the previous record from 1968 being broken two times. The World Championship in Tokyo saw a great competition between Mike Powell and Carl Lewis, both extremely good athletes at that time. In the 4th attempt of Lewis, he jumped 8.91m (29.23ft), which broke the Bob Beamon’s record of 8.90m (29.2ft), which was set in Mexico City (1968). In the 5th attempt, Mike Powell jumped an impressive 8.95m (29.36ft), which set a new world record. Up until now, there were some athletes who tried to break it, but no one came close. Since 1991, the closest jump was from Dwight Phillips in 2009, when he jumped 8.74m (28.67ft), which is still 21cm short.

  1. 4x100m relay; Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight, Carmelita Jeter 2012 (40.82s)

This record is impressive for many reasons. First of all, the previous record set by East Germany held the top spot since 1985, which translates to 27 years. The new record also marked the first time since 1976 that any other country than Eastern Germany managed to hold the World record, and while the record was not beaten by a huge margin, it is still a new World record. The US Team finished the race with the overall time of 40.82s, breaking the old record of 41.37s. This may not seem like a record worth mentioning, but keep in mind that the previous record set by Germany was under a lot of suspicions mostly due to the systematic state-sponsored doping tests in Easter Germany, which gave a lot of room for “cheating”. With a high possibility that Eastern Germany used prohibited drugs, the record set by the US team surely deserves to be at our no.2 spot.

  1. Heptathlon; Jackie Joyner-Kersee 1988 (7291 points)

Heptathlon is a track and field combination of 7 events. The name itself derives from the Greek “hepta” (seven) and athlon (feat). But enough about the sport itself, and let’s rather focus on our no.1 pick for the most impressive athletic record.

In Heptathlon, the athletes compete in the 7 events, which award them points based on measurements and times. Out of all the athletes or “heptathletes”, there is one who stands out; Jackie Joyner-Kersee. She set the current world record in 1986, and not only does the record still stand, but there was also no one who came even close to breaking it in the span of 31 years. She was the first woman to surpass the 7000-point mark in 1986 when she scored 7148. She then set a new record 2 times before setting the current record of 7291 in 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul.  Jackie Joyner-Kersee was so good she holds the top 6 scores in the heptathlon, and while we could write an article about her and her achievements, putting her impressive record at our no.1 spot should do her justice.

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