Top 10 sprint races!



Top 10 greatest sprint races in history

22 October 2006

By Alex Ray,

  1. Atlanta 1996. Men’s 100-meter Olympic final.

It was the most exciting 10 seconds in sports history. The fastest sprinter of that time Donovan Bailey was the last one who left the blocks at the track of overcrowded stadium in Atlanta. And nobody in the world had time to understand that he could simply lose the main race of his life, because during the next ten seconds everybody’s eyes were chained to the Olympic track, where the fastest man ever was showing a magnificent blend of explosive power and awesome athleticism.

Donovan Bailey crossed the finish line first to win 100-metre final in 9.84 seconds. It was not just the new world record, this record was set in Olympic final by the man who had the worst start among all finalists. Step by step he passed other sprinters and by finish line he leaved them all behind. If you have never seen this race, than just go to video section at and do it now.

  1. Atlanta 1996. Men’s 200-meter Olympic final.

Michael Johnson not just broke the 200-meter world record, he shattered it, leaving other competitors many steps behind by finish line. Even today his time of 19.32 seconds seems fantastic. But it’s not only about the time, it is also about the look on Michael’s face when he saw it was 19.32. And every time people see the photo of that moment they can feel his passion.

  1. Seoul 1988. Men’s 100-meter Olympic final.

Canadian Ben Johnson recorded a new world best of 9.79 secs and he stormed away from his arch-rival Carl Lewis. However, three days later it was revealed that Johnson had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and was disqualified.

  1. Seville 1999. Men’s 400-meter world record.

In retaining the world title in a time of 43.18 seconds Michael Johnson redefined the parameters of the one-lap event.

With the staggered start, it took a while for his performance to become apparent. But, running in his trademark hand-made golden spikes, he sailed off the top bend, leaving his rivals metres adrift.

For once, he pushed himself all the way to the line, roared on by a capacity crowd of 50,000 who gasped in astonishment when the time came up on the electronic scoreboard.

  1. Indianapolis 1988. Women’s 100-meter world record.

Florence Griffith-Joyner stunned the world when - known as a 200 m runner - she ran a new 100 m World Record of 10.49 in the quarter-finals of the US Olympic Trials. This record stands unchallenged to this day, and it will surprise no one if it remains in the books for another 20 years.

  1. Seoul 1988. Women’s 200-meter Olympic final.

Florence Griffith-Joyner set world record for 200 meters. Nobody could beat her time of 21.34 since then.

  1. Athens 1999. Maurice Greene breaks the world record in 100 meters.

In 1999 Maurice Greene set new 100-meter world record of 9.79 seconds, beating Donovan Bailey’s standing world record of 9.84, and lowering it by the largest margin since the advent of electronic timing. Also he proved that man could run 100-meter dash under 9.80 seconds without taking drugs.

  1. Canberra 1985. Women’s 400-meter world record.

During her career Marita Koch collected a remarkable 16 world records in outdoor sprints, as well as 14 world records in indoor events. On Otober 6, 1985 she set the current 400-meter world record of 47.60 seconds. 20 years ago from now nobody among the best female athletes could even think about such result.

  1. Athens 2005. Men’s 100-meter world record.

Asafa Powell set a world record in the men’s 100 meters, clocking 9.77 seconds at the Tsiklitiria Super Grand Prix meeting. So far it was the fastest time ever.

  1. Barcelona 1992. Men’s 4x100m relay world record.

Mike Marsh, Leroy Burrell, Dennis Mitchell, Carl Lewis. Exactly in this order the fastest American athletes were running their laps at Olympic stadium in Barcelona. The American team completed the race in 37.40. This record still stands today.

i would vote for
seoul 88 then MJ’s 200 followed by Flo Jo in 88 as my top 3…

you can ask any non track and field person in any pub or club around the world what sprint race(s) they remember most and its the mens and womens 100m finals at Seoul…

I think Tokio 91 can have a spot here…

I agree, how many guys under 10.00 in that race, 6 I think. :slight_smile:

How can the Athens 2004 final not be in the top 10!!? For me that was one of the most exciting Olympic Finals…sub 9.9’s being dropped like it was hot!!

At the 1991 men’s 100 metres final at the Tokyo World Championships six men finished in under 10 seconds and the UK’s Linford Christie smashed his European record with a time of 9.92 secs - a time which would have equalled the world record only weeks earlier - and yet he still failed to gain a medal. The USA managed a clean sweep: Lewis taking the gold, Leroy Burrell the silver and Dennis Mitchell the bronze.

The first two guys broke the world record for god’s sakes!

How could this race not be in anyone’s all-time top-10? - for just about any running event!


i’ll try and find some data on that meet…

1968–The Night of Speed. In a span of 2-1/2 hours, the world record of 10 seconds for the 100 meters is broken by three men and tied by seven others at the AAU Track and Field Championships in Sacramento, Calif. Jim Hines wins the first semifinal in a tight finish with Ronny Ray Smith, becoming the first man to break the 10-second barrier. Both runners are credited with a time of 9.9 seconds. Charlie Greene wins the second semifinal and then ties Hines’ 9.9 record in the final.

… At the 1968 Championships in Sacramento, Greene, fellow Hall of Famer Jim Hines, and Ronnie Ray Smith all made track history by dipping under 10 seconds with times of 9.9 seconds in their semi-finals. Dubbed “the Night of Speed” for its brilliant performances, the competition was capped by Greene’s victory in the finals. At the 1968 Olympic Games, Greene was again bothered by injuries and finished third in the 100. Despite the injury, he led off the U.S. 4x100m relay team that won the gold medal and set a world record of 38.2 seconds.

Now that’s a thin slice of 100 history! :cool:

64 tokyo 4 x 1 BOB HAYES! that has to be one of the greatest races ever.

Yep, he made up some ground in that relay.

I thought the women’s 400 final in Moscow was pretty good too - Marita Koch v Irina Szewinska (nee Kirzenstein). The big Polish girl won.

I think Gerard Mach was coaching Irina at that time before he moved to Canada where he had a strong influence on someone named Charlie Francis I believe.

That was 1976 when she won- pertty sure Koch won Moscow and Kratochvilova was second.

I was thinking the same thing. It’d be #1 in my mind. Who knows when we’ll see such a close major final like that one again.

The Koch vs Szewinska occured at the inaugural World Cup in 1977, Szewinska just won but it was the end of her reign. During the '70s, Szewinska was coached by her husband.

10 best races in no special order :
Tokyo’91 men 100,
Seoul’88 men 100,
Seoul’88 women 4x400,
Seoul’88 women 200,
Canberra’85 women 100,
Atlanta’96 men 200,
Sacramento’68 men 100,
Mexico’68 men 200,
Tokyo’64 men 4x100,
Zürich’84 women 100
I stop at 10 but others are coming…

Come to think of it- Koch was injured in the 76 heats which S won and they met in 77WC

you guys must be So Old to remember those details :stuck_out_tongue:

400 Metres
First Second Third
2002 Irena Szewinska EUR(POL)
Marita Koch GDR
Jarmila Kratochvílová EUR(TCH)
Marita Koch GDR
Ana Fidelia Quirot AME(CUB)
Jearl Miles USA
Irina Privalova EUR(RUS)
Falilat Ogunkoya AFR(NGR)
Ana Guevara AME(MEX) 49.52
49.56 Marita Koch GDR
Mariya Pinigina URS
Marita Koch GDR
Olga Vladykina URS
Grit Breuer GDR
Charmaine Crooks AME(CAN)
Fatima Yusuf AFR(NGR)
Grit Breuer GER
Jearl Miles Clark USA 49.76
50.27 Marina Sidorova URS
Irena Szewinska EUR(POL)
Jackie Pusey AME(JAM)
Lillie Leatherwood USA
Falilat Ogunkoya AFR(NGR)
Lyudmila Dzhigalova EUN
Jearl Miles USA
Sandie Richards AME(JAM)
Olesya Zykina RUS 51.29

No, that’s just i’m old-minded to study female sprinters in the '70s :stuck_out_tongue:

Does that make you a dirty old man? :eek:

Or just a connoisseur of greater talent

I was a dirty YOUNG man at the time.

I am really surprised that Carl Lewis’s 1991 World Championship race is not on there. He ran a 9.86 WR, and did not pass Leroy Burrell until the last 5-10 meters. An incredibly exciting race.

I also might have put Bob Hayes’s 1964 4x100 relay anchor leg.

Anyone read “Inside Track” by Carl Lewis. Might be under a different name. Good read. I sent Carl an email once and he responded. He also sent a couple private messages to me. He seems down to earth. I know him and Ben aren’t the best of friends. The 9.86 was a great race. A few of Carls races could have been on the list. I love his reactions after he wins. Don’t get me wrong I like Ben too!