Through the years there have been many great Olympic sprinters, Olympic sprinting is one of the most exciting events in the Olympics because it is so explosive and fast! I’m going to touch on some Olympic sprinters, dating from the 1930s through the 1990s. I will be focused on male and female sprinters through Olympic history.
1936: Jesse Owens is a four-time gold winner in Berlin.
Nazi Germany’s claims of Aryan racial superiority were quashed by the performances of several athletes, including Jesse Owens, who was African-American. First, Owens tied an Olympic record by scorching the 100 meters in 10.3 seconds. After winning the long jump gold—and setting another Olympic record—Owens set an Olympic mark of 21.1 in his first 200-meter heat, then broke his record again with a time of 20.7 in the final race. Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe were then added to the U.S. 4x100 relay team, who took the place of Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller (the only Jews on the U.S. track team and the only team members who didn’t compete in Berlin). Owens, Metcalfe, Foy Draper, and Frank Wykoff won the race in a world record time of 39.8. I don’t know if I would have wanted to be one of Hitler's officials after that Olympics. In 1948 Blankers-Koen takes four medals at 30!
Fanny Blankers-Koen was 30, old for a sprinter in any era. Regardless, that’s how old she was when the Olympics began. But that didn’t prevent the Netherlands native from winning four gold medals that year. Beginning with the 100 meters, which she won in 11.9 seconds. After winning the 80-meter hurdles in an Olympic record time of 11.2, Blankers-Koen had an apparent anxiety attack and almost dropped out, prior to the 200-meter race. Her husband and coach, Jan Blankers, calmed her down and Blankers-Koen went on to win the event in 24.4 seconds racing on a muddy track. She completed her gold medal sweep in the 4x100 relay. Running the anchor leg, she took the baton in fourth place, burning through the field and edging out Australia’s Joyce King by 0.1 second. Netherlands winning time was 47.5. It was an amazing Olympic comeback! 1984, Carl Lewis matches Jesse Owens in Olympic perfection.
American Carl Lewis won four times in the 1984 Olympics, duplicating Jesse Owens’ performance in the 1936 Olympics. Lewis’ attempt to match Owens almost ended in the 100 meters, as American Sam Graddy and Canadian Ben Johnson got away from the blocks faster. Lewis was in second place with 20 meters remaining, with an incredible burst of speed he then pulled away to win by about eight feet, in a time of 9.99 seconds. Carl Lewis started quickly in the 200 meters, holding off fellow American Kirk Baptiste. Running against the wind, Carl Lewis set an Olympic record of 19.80. Having already won the long jump—the first of four consecutive golds in that event—Lewis topped off his performance by running an 8.94-second anchor leg as the U.S. captured the 4x100 relay gold in a world record time of 37.83. In later competitions, Canadian Ben Johnson was discovered to have used steroids, to help with his performance. He was stripped of his medals.
1988: The beautiful Flo Jo sets two marks for Olympic gold.
Florence Griffith-Joyner ran an Olympic record time of 10.88 seconds in her first 100-meter heat, That is incredibly fast, lowering the mark to 10.62 in another heat, then won her first gold medal in a wind-aided time of 10.54. Yes, even faster! In the 200, Griffith-Joyner set an Olympic record of 21.76, broke the world record with a 21.56-second semifinal heat, then topped that mark with a victorious 21.34 run in the final. It’s amazing how much faster she gets in the second and third heats. The U.S. then overcame an almost disastrous handoff between Griffith-Joyner and anchor Evelyn Ashford in the 4x100 relay. Griffith-Joyner entered the passing area in first, but Ashford left the box in third before coming from behind to win in 41.98. Griffith-Joyner had a chance for a fourth gold medal, which is a huge achievement in the Olympics, but her bid for a fourth gold fell short, as the U.S. took second in the 4x400 relay. You could always notice Flo Jo, she was the one with the crazy long fingernails.
1992: Americans set relay records with the help of Carl Lewis.
I added this one because all the members on the team were very fast and each one went down in history as some of the Olympics best. In Barcelona, two pairs of U.S. teams set relay records that still remain Olympic marks today. The 4x100 team included Michael Marsh, Leroy Burrell, Dennis Mitchell plus a late addition (Carl Lewis), who replaced an injured Mark Witherspoon and ran the anchor leg. The U.S. teams time of 37.40 was also a world record, which was equaled by another U.S. squad the following year in 1993. The American 4x400 team broke the world mark set four years earlier by another U.S. gold medal-winning squad. The 1992 team included Andrew Valmon, Quincy Watts, Michael Johnson, who was known for wearing outrageous track shoes and Steve Lewis, the only returner from the 1988 Olympic squad. The U.S., led by Quincy Watts’ 43.1 legs, crushing the field, winning by an almost unheard of four seconds with a time of 2:55.74
These Olympic sprinters really stand out in my mind, for the records they have broke and everything they have achieved in our Olympic history.
Joseline Burns is a teacher and coursework writer at educational centre. She has been writing and editing content for a research paper help service, she led her own blogs for five years. She is a big fan of Marvel movies, sport and psychology. Her main goal is to help people with self-development, to teach them to look at the situation from different sides. She is fond of running and soccer.