From Jesse Owens to Usain Bolt… a history of the Olympics 100m finals
09:15 GMT, 13 July 2012
The men’s 100 metres final has been the blue riband event at every Olympic Games, generating the greatest hype and excitement.
It is an event done and dusted in 10 seconds or less, but it carries a great history and dozens of stories.
Times have tumbled over the decades, with Jim Hines the first athlete to run under ten seconds in an Olympic final in 1968.
History men: Jesse Owens (left) was the golden boy in 1936, while Usain Bolt ruled in 2008
But the advance from cinder to rubberized artificial tracks, the advent of hi-tech running spikes and kits, and the fact that Olympic sprinters now devote their entire year to training help to ever lower records.
We will have to wait and see if the current world record of 9.58 seconds, held by Usain Bolt, will be bettered in London.
But in the meantime, enjoy these video clips of every Olympic 100m final from Berlin in 1936 to the last Olympics in Beijing.
2008 Beijing – Usain Bolt (Jamaica) 9.69
The uncatchable Bolt smashes the world and Olympic records and is so far ahead with 30 metres to go, he cruises over the finish line before celebrating in trademark fashion.
2004 Athens – Justin Gatlin (USA) 9.85
The American Gatlin runs a great race but is almost caught on the line by Portugal’s Francis Obikwelu and his compatriot Maurice Greene. His celebration must also be one of the most reserved in Olympic 100m history.
2000 Sydney – Maurice Greene (USA) 9.87
Following a false start, Greene bursts through the centre to win by a clear margin, an achievement that obviously overwhelms him.
1996 Atlanta – Donovan Bailey (CAN) 9.84
High drama in Atlanta as Britain’s Linford Christie, the defending champion, is disqualified for two false starts. After 10 minutes, the race finally gets underway with Bailey storming from behind to win.
1992 Barcelona – Linford Christie (GBR) 9.96
A great moment for British athletics as Christie, at 32, became the oldest Olympic 100m champion, just edging out Frankie Fredericks of Namibia.
1988 Seoul – Ben Johnson (CAN) 9.79 (*later disqualified)
Johnson wins by some distance – and sets a new world record – but is stripped of the title two days later after the post-race drug test indicated steroid use. Carl Lewis, who came in second, was awarded the gold medal.
1984 Los Angeles – Carl Lewis (USA) 9.99
The long limbs of Lewis carry him away from his rivals to win the first of four gold medals at the Los Angeles Games.
1980 Moscow – Alan Wells (GBR) 10.25
The tightest of 100m wins as Wells and Cuba’s Silvio Leonard cross the line in a photo finish, locked on the same time of 10.25.
1976 Montreal – Hasely Crawford (TRI) 10.06
Crawford, in the inside lane, just holds off the challenge of Jamaican Don Quarrie to win the gold and make amends for the 1972 final, when he pulled up and didn’t finish.
1972 Munich – Valeriy Borzov (SOV) 10.14
Borzov, from the Soviet Union, claims a fairly comfortable victory and, with Robert Taylor of the United States second, a small Cold War success.
1968 Mexico City – Jim Hines (USA) 9.95
Hines dominates this race in Mexico City, setting a sub-10 second time which was equal to the world record at the time. This was the first Olympics held on an artificial ‘Tartan’ track.
1964 Tokyo – Bob Hayes (USA) 10.0
Running on a churned-up cinder track in spikes he had to borrow after his were lost, Hayes ran ten seconds flat to equal the then world record.
1960 Rome – Armin Hary (GER) 10.2
Only six in the final in Rome, as the German Hary, running in the outside lane, took gold on the line from Dave Sime of the United States. Britain’s Peter Radford was third.
1956 Melbourne – Bobby Morrow (USA) 10.62
Morrow achieved great fame in the States after winning a hat-trick of gold medals in Melbourne, of which the 100m was the first.
1952 Helsinki – Lindy Remigino (USA) 10.79
In a thrilling final, Remigino appears to lunge forward over the line, thinking he had won. But Jamaica’s Herb McKenley was right behind him and almost took glory. The officials took some time deciding, but handed it to Remigino. All six runners were separated by just a tenth of a second.
1948 London – Harrison Dillard (USA) 10.3
It’s hard to tell from the video, but this final was a dead heat between Dillard, who was actually a hurdles specialist, and another American Barney Ewell. The photograph on the line showed a win for Dillard by the narrowest of margins.
1936 Berlin – Jesse Owens (USA) 10.3
In these incredible video clips, we see the great Jessie Owens winning his four gold medals in Berlin as an unimpressed Adolf Hitler looks on.