Sports Zone

Perspective – Historical notes on the 100- and 200-meter sprints:

Are we faster than Jesse Owens was in 1936? Many track experts say improved track surfaces, better training and wind-resistant uniforms have resulted in faster times. File photo

• The 100- and 200-meter men’s races have been featured in the modern Olympics since the inaugural 1896 games. The women’s races were added in 1928.
John Carlos, 1968 Olympic 200-meter bronze medalist, told me that humans have not really run any faster than did Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.
In 1896 the winning men’s time at the Olympics was 11.8 seconds. The first sub-10-second 100 meters was 9.95 seconds, run by American Jim Hines in 1968. In the 50 years since, the mark has been lowered in small increments and today Usain Bolt’s 9.59 seconds, set in 2009, is best. No one, including Bolt, has come close to bettering that mark.
• Seven women won the 100- and 200-meter races in the same Games. They are: Fanny Blankers-Koen, Marjorie Jackson, Betty Cuthbert, Wilma Rudolph, Renate Stecher, Florence Griffith-Joyner and Elaine Thompson.
Nine men have won both in the same Olympics. They are: Usain Bolt, Carl Lewis, Valery Borzov, Bobby Morrow, Jesse Owens, Eddie Tolan, Percy Williams, Ralph Craig and Archie Hahn.



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