100 Years, 100 Meters


Parker Morse recently wrote about the 100th anniversary of honoring “the world’s fastest man.” Initially that title was bestowed on an Ivy Leaguer — Penn’s Donald Lippincott — who set the world record in the 100m dash in the qualifying rounds at the Olympic Games in Stockholm. While he wouldn’t win gold, he held the record for nine years.

In fact, in the first 93 years of “world’s fastest man” status, the United States held the title for 76 of the years. But Jamaica’s Asafa Powell took the crown in 2005 and has since passed it only to countryman Usain Bolt.

The all-time 100m world record holders:
Only record breakers are listed, not those who matched
10.6 — Donald Lippincott (U.S.) — July 6, 1912
10.4 — Charles Paddock (U.S.) — April 23, 1921
10.3 — Percy Williams (Canada) — August 9, 1930
10.2 — Jesse Owens (U.S.) — June 20, 1936
10.1 — Willie Williams (U.S.) — August 3, 1956
10.0 — Armin Hary (West Germany) — June 21, 1960
9.99 — Jim Hines (U.S.) — June 20, 1968
9.95 — Jim Hines (U.S.) — October 14, 1968
9.93 — Calvin Smith (U.S.) — July 3, 1983
9.92 — † Carl Lewis (U.S.) — September 24, 1988
9.90 — Leroy Burrell (U.S.) — June 14, 1991
9.86 — Carl Lewis (U.S.) — August 25, 1991
9.85 — Leroy Burrell (U.S.) — July 6, 1994
9.84 — Donovan Bailey (Canada) — July 27, 1996
9.79 — Maurice Greene (U.S.) — June 16, 1999
9.78 — **Tim Montgomery (U.S.) — September 14, 2002
9.77 — Asafa Powell (Jamaica) — June 14, 2005
9.74 — Asafa Powell (Jamaica) — September 9, 2007
9.72 — Usain Bolt (Jamaica) — May 31, 2008
9.69 — Usain Bolt (Jamaica) — August 16, 2008
9.58 — Usain Bolt (Jamaica) — August 16, 2009

† Ben Johnson (Canada) ran a drug-enhanced 9.79 that day (as well as a dopey 9.83 in 1987), but quickly became the saddest joke in Olympic history. We pay him no never-mind anymore.
** Montgomery was later determined to be doped to the gills.

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