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Athletics Records to be Broken in Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games

Athletics Records to be Broken in Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games

Posted by Miguel Ernesto on July 27, 2016

Athletics is going to be one of the most followed sports in the Rio de Janeiro edition of the Olympic Games. This specialty will put on the table the highest number of medals in the Games (47) and it’ll also engulf most of athletes (over 2,000 from some 200 countries). Most of enthusiasts think that the presence of big stars, from Usain Bolt to Allison Felix, combined with a “very fast” track as described by the organizers and the president of the IAAF, Sebastian Coe, will bring about the fall of several Olympic and world records.

What records could be broken in this Games? PanamericanWorld proposes an approach to some of the possible records we’ll see in Rio de Janeiro.

All eyes will be focused on the Jamaican wonder, Usain Bolt, who holds the world and Olympic record in both 100 - 200 m dash and 4 x 100 m relay. Bolt seems to be unlikely to go beyond his spectacular records in Olympic Games (9.63 secs in 100 m, in London 2012, and 19.3 secs in 200 m dash, Beijing 2008); but if he does hold the crown in these two specialties, he would’ve established an absolutely impressive record. Moreover, he has the possibility to win another three gold medals, thus totaling 9, and he’d be standing right behind US Ray Ewry, as the top winners of titles in athletics.

As for women, most of the attention will be paid to US Allyson Felix. The outstanding runner wants to compete in four events (200 - 400 m dash, as well as the two relay races). If she conquers the highest position in these four disciplines —a perfectly doable task—, she’ll match great Fanny Blankers-Koen, the “flying Dutch”, as the only women with four titles in the same edition of the Olympic Games.

The list of the top medal winners in Olympic athletics is headed by amazing Marlene Ottey, who was still running after turning 40 years old and won nine medals. This figure could be equaled—or beaten— by either Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown, with 7, or Felix, who holds six.

Spanish Jesus Angel Garcia will go to Rio to write his name in the book of Olympic records, not because the athlete could be on the podium in 50 km walk, but also because this is going to be his seventh consecutive participation in Olympic Games, thus matching Ottey, but establishing a new record for men.

Four women are ready to make history in Rio by fighting for an unprecedented achievement in women’s athletics: obtaining a third title in a row, in the same specialty. The candidates are: Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba in 10 thousand meters, New Zealander Valerie Adams in shot put, Czech Barbora Spotakova in javelin throwing, and Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, in 100 m dash. Which one seems to have more chances? Little Fraser-Pryce is undoubtedly the one, since she prevailed in this distance back in Beijing 2015.

As for middle-distance, there is great expectation with Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba, who holds the world record in 1,500 – 5,000 meters. Could she surpass her own records in Rio? Perhaps, although the 25-year-old runner is likely to break the Olympic records in both distances. For example, in 5,000 meters the best record in Olympic Games belongs to Rumanian Gabriela Szabo, with 14:40.79; while Dibaba’s world record, established in Paris, back in 2015, is 14:15.41. So, even if she doesn’t push herself to the top, the African athlete’s time will be better than Szabo’s.

In terms of jumps, the highest record options are related to men’s triple, especially after the results seen in Beijing, where US Christian Taylor was close to one of the records that seemed to be untouchable: British Jonathan Edwards’ 18.29 m. At the Chinese capital, Taylor finished with 18.21 m. The longest triple jump in Olympic Games was delivered by US Kenny Harrison, with 18,09 m, in Atlanta 1996. If Taylor or Cuban Pedro Pablo Pichardo jump in Rio, Harrison’s record could fall… even Edwards’.


We can identify the records that could be left behind, due to the quality and recent results obtained by the main athletes in that specialty. In the same breath, there are other records that can be hardly beaten in Rio 2016.

The most impressive of all, because it’s the oldest one, is US Bob Beamon’s 8.90 m long jump witnessed at the Mexico City edition of the Games, back in 1968. It was a world record until it was surpassed by Carl Lewis and Mike Powell in Tokyo, in 1991; but it remains an Olympic record. If we analyze that, in Beijing 2008, Panamanian Irvin Saladino was the winner with 8.34 m and, four years later, British Greg Rutherford got the title with 8.31 m, then it’s not difficult to foresee that Beamon’s jump won’t be surpassed in Rio.

Other Olympic records that will prevail after Rio were established by North American Florence Griffith Joyner. Her fabulous results were always accompanied by the doping suspicion; but, since nobody could prove it, this runner officially holds the Olympic and world record in 100 and 200 m dash. In the Seoul edition of the Games, in 1988, Griffith Joyner clocked 10.62 secs in 100 m (in London, 2012, Fraser-Pryce won with 10.75 secs and the same athlete finished with 10.76 in Beijing 2015); while in 200 m, the US runner did 21.34 secs, also in Seoul.

Czech Jarmila Kratochvilova’s record in 800 m dash is also unlikely to be broken—she was surrounded by doping suspicion but, like Griffith Joyner, there was no prove against her—. In Munich, 1983, this runner clocked 1:53.28! The Olympic record in this specialty seems to be unbeatable too: 1:53.43, reached by Soviet Nadezhda Olizarenko, in Moscow Olympic Games, 1980. Upon checking the statistics, we find that the third fastest time in history, in 800 m, was performed by Kenyan Pamela Jelimo (1:54.01, in 2008), so we could say that both Kratochvilova and Olizarenko will stay in the book of records.

How many athletics-related records will be broken in Rio Games? Athletes, organizers, executives from the International Olympic Committee and fans expect several outcomes. The track, Coe said, is fast and the main stars will be competing at the South American city, so let’s just wait and see…

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