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What is the oldest Olympic record still standing?


Sky Brown, 13, wins bronze in skateboarding, becoming Team GB’s youngest-ever medallist

For most athletes, breaking a record on the global stage of the Olympics is something to dream about.

And luckily for some, their dreams have come true, as several sportspeople have set incredible new standards during the Tokyo Games.

Team GB’s very own Sky Brown made history as the country’s youngest-ever competitor – and at age 13 years and 28 days, she became Britain’s youngest-ever medallist as she picked up a bronze medal for skateboarding.

Meanwhile, Karsten Warholm of Norway became one of the latest to set a new Olympic and world record on Tuesday with a time of 45.94 seconds in the men’s 400 metres hurdles, while USA’s Sydney McLaughlin also set a new Olympic and world record with a time of 51.46 seconds in the women’s 400 metres hurdles overnight.

But what exactly is the difference between a world record and an Olympic record – and what is the longest Olympic record still standing?

What is a world record?

A world record is given to the best performance in a sporting event, ratified by World Athletics.

This can be set at any world championships event within any season – not just at the Olympics, which only takes place every four years.

Norway’s Karsten Warholm celebrates winning the 400m hurdles with a new world record (Picture: Anthony Dibon/Icon Sport via Getty Images)

What is the difference between a world record and an Olympic record?

While a world record measures the most impressive achievement in any official competitive environment, an Olympic record is the bar set purely at one of the Summer or Winter Games.

Though arguably, it would be ideal for every athlete to clinch both at the same time, it’s not often the case.

What is the oldest Olympic record still standing?

The record for the longest-held Olympic best is held by Bob Beamon (USA) – he achieved 8.90m in the men’s long jump at the 1968 Mexico City games.

It was also a world record for just under 23 years, before it was broken by his fellow countryman Mike Powell at the 1991 World Athletics Championships in Tokyo.

Powell jumped an incredible 8.95m, smashing Beamon’s world record by 5cm. The world record still stands.

What is the oldest world record still standing?

The oldest world record still standing belongs to Jarmila Kratochvílová of Czech Republic. In 1983, she recorded the fastest time for the women’s 800 metres with a time of 1:53.28 – to this day, only one athlete has come within one second of this time (Kenya’s Pamela Jelimo in 2008).

In this year’s Olympic Games, the gold medal was won by 19-year-old Athing Mu of USA with a time of 1:55.21 – nearly two seconds shy of the world record.

Who has broken Olympic records so far this year? 

Elaine Thompson-Herah, of Jamaica, celebrates after winning the women’s 100 metres final (Picture: AP)

Though Tokyo 2020 has been quite different to the Games in more recent years – namely, with little to no crowd support – several athletes haven’t let that hold them back from setting new Olympic records.

So far, the record-setters have been:

  • Elaine Thompson-Herah, Jamaica (Women’s 100m – 10.61 seconds)
  • Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, Puerto Rico (Women’s 100m hurdles – 12.26 seconds)
  • Yulimar Rojas, Venezuela (Women’s triple jump – 15.67m)
  • Karsten Warlholm, Norway (Men’s 400m hurdles – 45.94 seconds)
  • Sydney McLaughlin, USA (Women’s 400m – 51.46 seconds)


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