The 21st century


Usain Bolt


2000  The IAAF Council decides to move the IAAF World Indoor Championships and the IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships (then called the IAAF Race Walking World Cup) from odd to even years, from 2004 and 2002 respectively.

2000  The women’s 3000m steeplechase becomes an official IAAF world record event.

2000  Unprecedented crowds totalling 1,597,104 at the Olympic Games in Sydney see home star Cathy Freeman (AUS) – who also lit the Olympic Flame – win a historic gold in the women’s 400m on a day which also saw wins by famous figures of the sport including Michael Johnson (USA), Jonathan Edwards (GBR), Maria Mutola (MOZ), Gabriela Szabo (ROU), Stacy Dragila (USA) and Haile Gebrselassie (ETH).

2000  Prize money increased to include not just medallists, but the first eight at the IAAF World Championships.

2001  Owing to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease, the World Cross Country Championships are moved from Dublin (IRL) to Ostend (BEL) with just three weeks’ notice. Timing chip devices – later known as transponders – are used for the first time to give instant and detailed placings on every lap.

2001  Lamine Diack (SEN) is officially elected as IAAF President.

2001  On the eve of the IAAF World Championships in Edmonton, the IAAF is renamed as the International Association of Athletics Federations.

2001  The IAAF Congress agrees to automatic disqualification for whoever commits a second false start in sprint races, to be introduced from January 2003.

2002  The IAAF establish a schools and youth programme incorporating IAAF Kid’s Athletics.

2002  The 15-year-old Usain Bolt (JAM) becomes the youngest ever male world junior champion when he wins the 200m in front of his home crowd at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Kingston.

2002  The IAAF becomes the first sports federation to test for EPO (Erythropoietin, the hormone which controls blood cell production) out of competition, and without warning.

2003  Kenya’s senior men win the team title at the World Cross Country Championships for the 18th year in succession.

2003  A World Anti-Doping Code is accepted by the IAAF Congress as the basis for the fight against doping in athletics, and decisions of disputed doping cases are passed from the IAAF Arbitration Panel to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

2003  A stunning world marathon best of 2:15:25 in London by Paula Radcliffe (GBR) means the gap between the men’s and women’s records dips below 10 minutes for the first time.

2003  The IAAF World Championships in Paris are highlighted by world bests in both men’s walking events with Jefferson Perez (ECU) and Robert Korzeniowski (POL) setting times of 1: 3:36.03 in the 20km and 50km race walk respectively.

2003  The first IAAF Race Walking Challenge is staged across six fixtures including the IAAF World Championships.

2003  The IAAF Congress approves a World Athletics Plan which is intended to “ensure that Athletics continues to seek out, nurture and develop new talent and, working together with our partners, continues to provide immense enjoyment for millions of people around the world.”

2003  Maria Mutola (MOZ) wins the 800m at the Oslo, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Zurich and Brussels meetings and so is unbeaten in the IAAF Golden League. She becomes the first solo winner of the entire Golden League jackpot prize of $1 million.

2004  The IAAF recognise official world records for all the most popular road running and walking distances.

2004  At the Olympic Games in Athens, Liu Xiang (CHN) equals the 110m hurdles world record of 12.91 and becomes the first man from China to win an athletics gold medal while Yelena Isinbaeva (RUS) sets a pole vault world record of 4.91m.

2005  At the Helsinki world championships Yelena Isinbayeva (RUS) clears a pole vault world record of 5.01m with daylight to spare and took the title by the massive margin of 41cm. Osleidys Menendez (CUB) regains the world title she had won in 2001 and did so with a world record of 71.70m in the first round.

2006  At the World Cross Country Championships in Fukuoka, Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) wins his ninth and tenth individual titles to become the most successful cross country runner ever.

2006  Foundation of World Marathon Majors, a series consisting five of the world’s great races: Boston, London, Berlin and Chicago plus the World Championships and/or Olympic Games.

2007  The IAAF World Athletics Championships are held in exceptionally hot and humid conditions. The United States top the medal table with 14 golds, including the three titles each won by sprinters Tyson Gay and Allyson Felix (both USA).

2008  For the first time, athletes from 200 countries compete in athletics at the Olympics Games. Usain Bolt wins the 100m in a world record 9.69 despite slowing down to celebrate, then adds another gold and world record when winning the 200m in 19.30.

2008  The 1:53.28 800m world record by Jarmila Kratochvílová (CZE) from 1983 surpasses Jesse Owens’s 8.13m long jump in 1935 as the longest-standing world record, and it remains in the history books to this day.

2009  The IAAF Congress votes to stage the World Cross Country Championships only in odd years from 2011.

2009  The IAAF Congress votes to introduce instant disqualification of athletes committing a single false start, except in combined events.

2009  In Berlin, a blue track is used for the first time at the IAAF World Championships. Usain Bolt (JAM) breaks his own world records at both 100m and 200m with times of 9.58 and 19.19.

2009  The Introduction of Athlete Biological Passports (ABPs) enables the detection of any anomalous blood profiles in the future.

2010  The IAAF Golden League is replaced with the expanded and more global IAAF Diamond League with a prize money of $6.63 million and a $50,000 bonus awarded for any world records. In each of 32 disciplines there is a ‘Diamond Race’ in which winners will take home a Diamond Trophy as well as a cash award. Due to stadium restrictions and safety concerns, a separate IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge is also introduced.

2010  The first Youth Olympic Games and IAAF Continental Cups are staged in Singapore and Split, Croatia respectively.

2011  The IAAF adopt regulations governing the eligibility of females with hyperandrogenism (the excessive production of androgenic hormones).

2011  The defining moment of the world championships in Daegu is the disqualification of Usain Bolt (JAM) for a false start in the 100m, though he returns to take gold in the 200m & 4x100m. Sally Pearson (AUS) sets a 100m hurdles championship record of 12.28, the fastest time in the world since 1992.

2011  Every competing athlete at the world championships in Daegu is blood tested for their Athlete’s Biological Passports, creating a huge information bank with the haematological and hormone profiles of elite athletes.

2012  Up to 80,000 spectators fill the stadium for every session of the Olympic Games in London, where David Rudisha (KEN) runs a gun-to-tape 800m world record in 1:40.91. Two million ticket applications are made for the session which included the men’s 100m final, where Usain Bolt (JAM) wins the first of three more gold medals.

2012  The 100th Anniversary of IAAF is marked in Barcelona with a Gala and a Centenary Historic Exhibition featuring the greatest collection of athletics memorabilia ever assembled, including Items from the Panhellenic Games held in ancient Greece through to memorabilia and medals from the London 2012 Olympic Games.

2013  Among the decisions made by the IAAF Congress are four-year bans for serious doping offences and the introduction of two categories of world records for women in road races: for mixed gender and single gender races.

2013  A record 203 countries compete at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow where Usain Bolt (JAM) wins another three gold medals and Mo Farah (GBR) repeats his double from the London 2012 Olympic Games and takes the 5000m and 10,000m titles.

2013  At the New York Marathon there are record numbers of starters and finishers for a marathon: 50,740 and 50,304.

2014  The first IAAF World Relays in Nassau are staged in front of capacity crowds with world records in three events.

2015  At the IAAF Congress preceding the world championships in Beijing, Sebastian Coe (GBR) becomes the sixth IAAF President.

2015  At the world championships in Beijing, Ashton Eaton (USA) adds eight points to his own decathlon world record with 9045 while fellow American Christian Taylor scares Jonathan Edwards’ long-standing triple jump world record when he leaps 18.21m. Usain Bolt takes his tally of IAAF World Championships titles to 11, winning the 100m and 200m in 9.79 and 19.55 before helping Jamaica triumph in the 4x100m again. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce defended her 100m title and then ran the anchor leg in Jamaica’s 4x100m team which won in a championship record 41.07, the second fastest time ever.

2016  Almaz Ayana (ETH) takes more than 14 seconds off the 10,000m world record at the Olympic Games in Rio to win gold in 29:17.45. Wayde van Niekerk (RSA) speeds away from previous 400m Olympic champions Kirani James and LaShawn Merritt to clock a world record 43.03. Anita Wlodarcyzk (POL) retains her Olympic hammer title with a world record 82.29m and Usain Bolt (JAM) continues to add to his gold medal collection by retaining his 100m and 200m titles and anchoring Jamaica to 4x100m victory.

2017  Mo Farah (GBR) takes his third consecutive 10,000m world title with a world-leading time of 26:49.51 in London. Almaz Ayana (ETH) defended her 10,000m crown in 30:16.32, finishing more than 46 seconds clear of her compatriot Tirunesh Dibaba. Yohann Diniz (FRA) wins the 50km race walk in a championship record of 3:33:12, the second fastest time ever, while the inaugural women’s 50km event saw Ines Henriques (POR) set a world record of 4:05:56.

2017  The Athletics Integrity Unit is formed to combat integrity breaches in athletics, such as doping, betting, bribery and corruption, age manipulation, manipulation of competition results, and harassment, including sexual harassment.. It functions fully independently of World Athletics.

2018  The IAAF Heritage Department is created to use athletics’ history, its heroes and heroines, artefacts and the documents, video and photographs that portray them to engage with the stars and fans of the present and future.

2018  Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) runs a marathon world record of 2:01.39 in Berlin, taking no less than 1:18 off the previous mark as he becomes the first man to run under 2:02:00.

2019  Armand ‘Mondo’ Duplantis, just 19, sets pole vault world records of 6.17m and 6.18m at the Torun and Glasgow indoor meetings.

2019  The most notable superlative was the women's 400m hurdles world record of 52.16 by Dalilah Muhammad (USA). Mutaz Essa Barshim (QAT) got the biggest cheers of the championships when he retained his high jump crown. Sifan Hassan (NED) wins an unprecedented 10,000m and 1500m double while the mixed 4x400m made its debut at the World Athletics Championships, with USA winning in a world record 3:09.34.

2019  On 15 November, the IAAF officially changes its name to World Athletics.

2020  Joshua Cheptegei (UGA) sets 5000m and 10,000m world records of 12:35.36 and 26:11.00 during an outdoor season which sees many events cancelled or postponed – including the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and Paris 2020 European Athletics Championships – due to the coronavirus pandemic. Letsenbet Gidey (ETH) improves the women’s 5000m world record to 14:06.62.

2021  During the indoor season, Grant Holloway (USA) clocks a 60m hurdles world record of 7.29 in Madrid, improving a mark that had been set almost 27 years before, while Gudaf Tsegay (ETH) runs a 1500m world indoor record of 3:53.09 in Lievin, France.