The 100m sprint world records

The 100m sprint

Some may disagree but the 100m sprint is often regarded as the Main Event of every track and field competition. The extra cool factor is that the record holder also bears the unofficial title of – “the fastest man in the world”. The 100m sprint or dash is believed to originate from the ancient Greek Olympics event called the Stadion. The Stadion was the main event of the ancient Greek Olympics. Actually from 776 to 724 BC it was the ONLY event. So the winner would actually win the entire Olympic games! Later on Stadion was a part of the Pentathlon. Pentathlon included: discus throw, javelin throw, wrestling, long jump and of course the Stadion.

Stadion was very different than the modern 100m sprint. Runners would start from a standing position and the track length was actually 180 meters. Since Stadion was such a great event we even know the first winner and the first man to bear the title of “the fastest man in the world”. It was Coroebus of Elis and the year was 776 BC.

The modern Olympics got the 100m sprint in 1896. at the very first modern Olympic games. The winner was Thomas Burke USA. His time was 12.2 seconds.

Of course, 100m sprint is not only an event on Olympic games but also on various track and field competitions. In fact the current world record ran by Jamaican Usain Bolt is set at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics in Berlin.

To cut strait to the chase we present you the 100m sprint world record progression:

Men’s 100 m sprint progression table:


Before IAAF


10.8Luther Cary, USAParis, France, July 4, 1891
10.6Knut Lindberg, SWEGothenburg, Sweden, August 26, 1906
10.5Emil Ketterer, GERKarlsruhe, Germany, July 9, 1911

IAAF 1912-1976


10.6Donald Lippincott, USAStockholm, Sweden, July 6, 1912
10.4Charlie Paddock, USARedlands, USA, April 23, 1921
10.3Percy Williams, CANToronto, Canada, August 9, 1930
10.2Jesse Owens, USAChicago, USA,  June 20, 1936
10.1Willie Williams, USABerlin, Germany, August 3, 1956
10.0Armin Hary, W GERZürich, Switzerland, June 21, 1960
9.9Jim Hines, USASacramento, USA, June 20, 1968

IAAF 1977 – introducing fully automatic timing


9.93Calvin Smith, USAColorado Springs, USA, July 3, 1983
9.83Ben Johnson, CANRome, Italy, August 30, 1987* rescinded
9.92Carl Lewis, USASeoul, South Korea, September 24, 1988
9.90Leroy Burrell, USANew York, USA, June 14, 1991
9.86Carl Lewis, USATokyo, Japan, August 25, 1991
9.85Leroy Burrell, USALausanne, Switzerland, July 6, 1994
9.84Donovan Bailey, CANAtlanta, USA, July 27, 1996
9.79Maurice Greene, USAAthens, Greece, June 16, 1999
9.78Tim Montgomery, USAParis, France, September 14, 2002* rescinded
9.77Asafa Powell, JAMAthens, Greece, June 14, 2005
9.74Asafa Powell, JAMRieti, Italy, September 9, 2007
9.72Usain Bolt, JAMNew York, USA, May 31, 2008
9.62Usain Bolt, JAMBeijing, China, August 16, 2008*Olympic Record
9.58Usain Bolt, JAMBerlin, Germany, August 16, 2009* current WR

* – several other athletes ran the same time as athletes in this table. However we included only the ones that ran the time first.

If we look at the progressions we can see that it took more than a hundred years to reduce the time by one single second. (Luther Cary ran 10.8 sec in 1891 – Carl Lewis ran 9.86 sec in 1991). The current record holder Usain Bolt already cut that down by 0.3 seconds. So the current World Record 100m sprint time is now at an amazing 9.58 seconds.

On the next page – Women’s 100m sprint records and history