With the absence of the Fastest Man Alive in this year’s men’s 100m sprint final, it was a chance to make history for a lucky contender in what was the most open 100m race in years. That lucky man was Italy’s Lamont Marcell Jacobs, a 30-1 underdog that stunned the masses at this year’s Olympics. Meanwhile, it was 3 of the best for Jamaica, as Elaine Thompson-Herah claimed back to back golds ahead of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson (who came in 2nd and 3rd respectively).
Over the years, we have witnessed some remarkable races, so here is a little trip down memory lane to remind you of 5 unmissable 100m races in Olympic history. Run along with us and check out Olympics 100m: Top 5 Sprints You Must See!
Jesse Owens Embarrasses the Nazi’s in their Own Back Yard (Berlin, 1936)
The year is 1936, the early beginnings of Adolf Hitler’s reign as the chancellor of Germany and the head of the Nazi party. This was the first televised broadcast of the Olympics and so the German chancellor thought this was the perfect opportunity to showcase his regime and his prized Aryan athletes.
However, the African-American track sensation Jesse Owens had other ideas. The United States almost boycotted the 1936 games, aware of the discriminatory policy against Jews. Although, Owens found this stance hypocritical in nature considering the racism he and many other black people had faced across America and therefore wished to compete.
What followed was complete domination from Owens in not only the 100m, but also the 200m, long jump and the 4 x 100m relay, a performance that I could only imagine left Hitler aghast.
Owens cemented himself in history as the first American to win 4 gold medals in track and field in a single Olympics, paving the way for future African-American athletes to shine such as Jackie Robinson and Arthur Ashe.
Evelyn Ashford Makes Olympic History (Los Angeles, 1984)
After a US boycott of the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, the best women’s sprinter in the world, Evelyn Ashford, came back with a vengeance in the 1984 Olympic games in Los Angeles.
Ashford had already smashed the Women’s 100m world record, breaching the 11 second barrier with a time of 10.79 seconds and she aimed to do it again on the biggest stage of all. The Louisiana-born, California-raised sprinter would go on to claim gold on home soil with a time of 10.97 seconds, a new Olympic record and the first woman to run 100m in under 11 seconds at the Olympics.
Closest Final Ever? (Barcelona, 1992)
The Women’s 100m final in 1992 will live long in the memories of those who have seen it, dubbed the “closest-ever 100m final in history”. The previous winner of this event, Florence Griffith-Joyner, the World’s Fastest Woman (whose record still remains to this day) had retired from the Olympics. This meant that the door was wide open for a new champion to be crowned.
There were several lucky punters but, in the end, there was only one winner and that was Gail Devers of the USA. It was the definition of a photo finish, with 5 runners all within 0.06 seconds of each other. An incredible sight, and definitely a race to remember – one that you definitely must see!
Usain Bolt Announces Himself to The World (Beijing, 2008)
You can’t have a top 5 list of 100m races without featuring the legend himself, so where better place to start than where it all began, in Beijing, in The Bird’s Nest, in 2008.
At the time, the young Jamaican strutted onto the scene with a charm and swagger of someone who’d done this hundreds of times before, but this was Usain Bolt’s first 100m final at the Olympic games. The chicken nugget-fuelled 6’5 superstar exploded down the track in such a way that former gold medallist, Michael Johnson, claimed “we’ve never seen anything like that before”.
Not only did Bolt break the world record at 9.69 seconds, he also did it in style. With 20 metres to go he already knew he’d won, breaking his running form and pounding his chest. The rest were nowhere to be seen (from a sprinter’s perspective anyway) and just like that, Bolt captivated millions as the newest global superstar and etched his name into the history books as the fastest man in recorded history.
Bolt Beats ‘The Beast’ (London, 2012)
The 100m finals in London was set to be one of the most exciting races in recent years, consisting of the fastest group of sprinters to ever take the line in a 100m Olympic final.
However, one challenger in particular that Bolt had to be aware of was his Jamaican teammate, Yohan ‘The Beast’ Blake. In the Olympic trials, Blake stunned many by beating Bolt in both the 100m and 200m running races. So, when it came to the 100m finals, all eyes were focused on the two Jamaicans.
After a slow start out of the blocks, Bolt quickly got into his stride and sensationally powered his way to victory, retaining his status as the World’s Fastest Man. In a time of 9.63 seconds it was a new Olympic record, the champion of 2008 became a legend.
This year’s Olympics in Tokyo was a strange one without the fans and without some of the big names that have grabbed headlines in previous competitions. With that being said, their absence has enabled the birth of new stars, new memories and in new events, making it an Olympics to remember.
Fan of Olympic track and field events? What were some of your favourite performances from Tokyo 2020? Let us know in the comments below, and join in the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram!