News25 Aug 2011

After 51 years, Owens' longevity record finally falls


Jesse Owens (R) and Luz Long (L) chat together in the Berlin stadium 1 August 1936 during the Olympic Games (© AFP / Getty Images)

25 August 2011It took more than 51 years but there is now a new standard of longevity for a men's World Record in a regularly contested championship event.

On 25 May, 1935, Jesse Owens set a Long Jump world record of 8.13m. It was not officially surpassed until Ralph Boston reached 8.21m on 12 August, 1960, 25 years and 79 days later. (There was an 8.14m long jump by Manfred Steinbach on 24 July, 1960, with no wind-reading; some circumstantial testimony estimate the wind was less than 2.0 mps.)

The new king of longevity is now Jürgen Schult, the East German who threw the discus 74.08m on 6 June 1986. As of 25 August it celebrated its 25th year and 80th day of continual existence.

It should still be noted that two older IAAF men's World records were surpassed just a few months earlier. On 3 June at Eugene, Oregon, Kenyan Moses Mosop circled the track there 75 times in 1:26:47.4 to beat the previous 30,000m World record and en route passed 25,000m in 1:12:25.4. The standing World records had been set more than 30 years earlier on 22 March, 1981, by Toshihiko Seko of Japan.

However, the long distance track events beyond 10,000m are rarely staged and seem to be held only when there is a high probability at least one participant can break a record. This was the case in Eugene since Mosop had just a few months earlier run 2:03:06 (aided) at the Boston Marathon.

Ironically the indoor version of the World record men's long jump of 8.79m by Carl Lewis on 27 January, 1984, more than two years prior to Schult, still continues to thrive as the absolute longest World record.

Throughout history, the men's Long Jump record has been a magnet for longevity. Bob Beamon's legendary 8.90m at Mexico City on 18 October, 1968 lasted 22 years 316 days. Its successor, Mike Powell's 8.95m at the Tokyo World Championships on August 30, 1991, will reach its 20th anniverary in five days.

Three women's World records pre-date Schult's. Jarmila Kratochvilova set the 800m record on 26 July, 1983. Marita Koch set the 400m record on 6 October, 1985 and 80 minutes later she was part of the fastest 4 x 100m Relay team in history.

And again turning indoors, the "grandmother" of all World records goes back much further. Helen Fibingerova threw the shot 22.50m on 19 February, 1977, still the World indoor record after more than 34 years.

Marty Post for the IAAF



06 Jun 85 – DT, 74.08m, Jürgen Schult, GDR

30 Aug 86 – HT, 86.74m, Yuriy Sedykh, USSR

20 May 90 – SP, 23.12m, Randy Barnes, USA


26 Jul 83 – 800m, 1:53.28, Jarmila Kratochvilova, CZE

06 Oct 85 – 400m, 47.60, Marita Koch, GDR

06 Oct 85 – 4x100m, 41.37, East Germany

Indoor MEN -

27 Jan 84 – LJ, 8.79m, Carl Lewis, USA

30 Jan 89 – SP, 22.66m, Randy Barnes, USA

04 Mar 89 – HJ, 2.43m, Javier Sotomayor, CUB

Indoor WOMEN -

19 Feb 77 – SP, 22.50m, Helen Fibingerova, CZE

07 Mar 82 – 400m, 49.59, Jarmila Kratochvilova, CZE

13 Feb 88 – LJ, 7.37m, Heike Dreschsler, GDR

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