The athletics world joined forces to pay tribute to Jim Hines, who passed away in June 2023 at the age of 76.
Hines, for the uninitiated, is one of the most legendary sprinters of all time – in 1968, he became the first person to break the 10-second mark for the 100 metres.
In fact, he did it twice – the first time at the US Championships in June 1968 as a hand-timed 9.99, and again at the Olympic Games in Mexico City four months later with an electronically-recorded 9.95.
It’s a record that would go unbroken for the best part of 15 years, securing Hines’ – who also won a relay gold medal in Mexico before playing for the Miami Dolphins in the NFL – legacy in the athletics hall of fame.
So how has the 100m world record evolved since Hines’ landmark run?
Calvin Smith (USA)
|9.93 seconds||3rd July 1983||Colorado Springs, USA|
After 15 years, Hines’ world record was broken by Calvin Smith – an American track star who, unbelievably, never won a major gold medal in the 100m.
He broke the record at the 1983 U.S. Olympic Festival – a sort of celebration of athletics in non-Games years – with a time of 9.93.
Winning Olympic gold in the 4x100m relay was as good as it got for Smith over the shorter distance, although he was a much-vaunted 200m sprinter who would win back-to-back golds at the World Championships in 1983 and 1987.
Carl Lewis (USA)
|9.92 seconds||24th September 1988||Seoul, S. Korea (Olympics)|
|9.86 seconds||25th August 1991||Tokyo, Japan (World Championships)|
The incomparable Carl Lewis, who won nine Olympic gold medals across four disciplines (100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and long jump), equalled the world record in both 1987 and 1988.
He ran 9.93 twice, but with lower wind assistance than Smith’s mark, and so was handed the WR on a technicality.
But the legendary American finally stood on his own in September 1988, scorching to 9.92 at the Seoul Olympics.
Ironically, Lewis didn’t even win gold – Ben Johnson won the 100m final in a time of 9.79, although of course that run was later rescinded when the Canadian tested positive for steroids.
Leroy Burrell (USA)
|9.90 seconds||14th June 1991||New York, USA|
|9.85 seconds||6th July 1994||Lausanne, Switzerland|
Like Smith, Leroy Burrell never won a gold medal in the 100m – despite twice setting the world record.
He powered to 9.90 at a meeting in June 1991, before the evergreen Lewis returned to beat that mark with a 9.86 run at the World Championships in Tokyo just three months later.
However, Burrell would have the last laugh by recording 9.85 in Switzerland in 1994 – a record that would stand for the next two years.
Donovan Bailey (Canada)
|9.84 seconds||27th July 1996||Atlanta, USA (Olympics)|
At the Atlanta Olympics of 1996, Donovan Bailey had the Games that any athlete dreams of.
He won two gold medals in the 100m and 4x100m while representing Canada – in the former posting a new world record of 9.84.
Incredibly, Bailey ran at a top speed of 27.1mph in the 100m final – at the time, the fastest speed that any human being had ever been recorded at!
Maurice Green (USA)
|9.79 seconds||16th June 1999||Athens, Greece|
Bailey’s record stood for three years until it was torched by Maurice Green in 1999.
Unsurprisingly, he won the World Championships that year and followed it up with Olympic gold in Sydney a year later.
Asafa Powell (Jamaica)
|9.77 seconds||14th June 2005||Athens, Greece|
|9.77 seconds||11th June 2006||Gateshead, UK|
|9.77 seconds||18th August 2006||Zurich, Switzerland|
|9.74 seconds||9th September 2007||Rieti, Italy|
In the early 2000s, the 100m was broken twice by Tim Montgomery and Justin Gatlin – but both times were struck from the record after the pair failed doping tests.
So the next official breaking of the 100m world record was delivered by Asafa Powell at a meeting in Athens back in 2005.
The Jamaican would run 9.77 twice more, with the subsequent runs at a lower wind assistance, and therefore he broke his own world record twice.
And then, in 2007 at an IAAF Grand Prix event in Italy, Powell ran 9.74 to shatter his own mark once more.
But then a compatriot came along and stole Powell’s thunder….
Usain Bolt (Jaimica)
|9.72 seconds||31st May 2008||New York, USA|
|9.69 seconds||16th August 2008||Beijing, China (Olympics)|
|9.58 seconds||16th August 2009||Berlin, Germany (World Championships)|
When you consider that Usain Bolt not only broke the world record but would ultimately torch some 0.14 seconds off it, the Jamaican has to go down as the greatest sprinter of all time.
Bolt lived up to his name by twice breaking the world record in 2008, first at 9.72 and then a remarkable 9.69 run at the Beijing Olympics with zero tailwind.
But the best was yet to come, with Bolt recording 9.58 at the World Championships in Berlin in 2009.
It’s a world record that is yet to be matched….and may never be.