Tokyo Olympics Rewrote By-Lane World Records

Karsten Warholm now holds the bests for 3 lanes, this 46.87 in ’20 setting a mark for the fastest time ever out of lane 8; his 2 WRs this year —  46.70 & 45.94 — gave him lanes 7 & 6. (JIRI MOCHIZUKI/IMAGE OF SPORT)

THIS COMPILATION lists the best performance known to have been achieved in each lane of the track in each of the curve-affected events (200, 400, 400H, 4×1), for men and women.

In contrast to the usual research technique common in our discipline—a search for superlatives of one sort or another—this project involved more a process of elimination. It is not too difficult to find a world-ranking performance achieved in each lane. The trick is to be sure that it is the best.

My method was, on the basis of preliminary research, tentatively to determine a “record” for each lane in each event and then to seek to find out the lane of every performance in that event which surpassed the tentative record. Only when the lane of every mark that could be a record for a lane has been determined, can one have 100% confidence in the results.

Though 100% certainty has not yet been achieved for all of the listed marks, I have a high degree of confidence that virtually all of them are, in fact, the records. This confidence stems in part from the knowledge that marquee athletes are most unlikely to have been asked to run in lanes 1 or 8 (or 9) in invitational meetings, and—except for Michael Johnson’s preference for lane 2 in the 400 in the early ’90s—are generally placed in a middle lane. 400H star Karsten Warholm, who by request has the records from lanes 7 & 8 is another notable exception.

Note also that since ’88, Olympic and World Championships runners who have performed best in the prior round have been given lanes 3–6. Previous to that everybody was in a random draw.

For these reasons, for example, any number of performances that better 20.04 for the men’s 200 (the record for lane 1) can be judged most unlikely to have been run in that lane, even if one does not know the exact lane in which they were achieved.

MEN’S 200
1* Coby Miller USA 20.04 1 Athletissima Lausanne 01-Jul-03
2 Jason Young JAM 19.86 1 Spitzen Lucerne 17-Jul-12
3 Michael Johnson USA 19.32 1 Olympic Games Atlanta 01-Aug-96
4 Yohan Blake JAM 19.44 2 Olympic Games London 09-Aug-12
5 Usain Bolt JAM 19.19 1 World Champs Berlin 20-Aug-09
6 Walter Dix USA 19.53 2 Van Damme Brussels 16-Sep-11
7 Yohan Blake JAM 19.26 1 Van Damme Brussels 16-Sep-11
8 Xavier Carter USA 19.63 1 Athletissima Lausanne 11-Jul-06
9 Andre De Grasse CAN 19.73 1s3 Olympic Games Tokyo 03-Aug-21
* Usain Bolt ran from lane 1 in the ’05 World Championships final (Helsinki, 01 August). At 150 meters he was in medal position and gaining on eventual winner Justin Gatlin (20.04) but slowed to a jog due to injury.

 

MEN’S 400
1 Karabo Sibanda BOT 44.25 5 Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro 14-Aug-16
2 Larry James USA 43.97(A) 2 Olympic Games Mexico City 18-Oct-68
   (low altitude) Michael Johnson USA 44.17 1r1 Athletissima Lausanne 10-Jul-91
3 Jeremy Wariner USA 43.62 1r1 Golden Gala Rome 14-Jul-06
4 Butch Reynolds USA 43.29 1 Weltklasse Zürich 17-Aug-88
5 Michael Johnson USA 43.18 1 World Champs Seville 26-Aug-99
6 Jeremy Wariner USA 43.45 1 World Champs Osaka 31-Aug-07
7 Fred Kerley USA 43.64 1 USATF Champs Des Moines 27-Jul-19
8 Wayde van Niekerk RSA 43.03 1 Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro 14-Aug-16
9 Isaac Makwala BOT 44.11 1s2 World Champs Beijing 24-Aug-15
MEN’S 400 HURDLES
1 Angelo Taylor USA 47.50 1 Olympic Games Sydney 27-Sep-00
2 Edwin Moses USA 47.45 1 AAU Champs Westwood 11-Jun-77
3* Bershawn Jackson USA 47.32 1 USATF Champs Des Moines 26-Jun-10
4 Kevin Young USA 46.78 1 Olympic Games Barcelona 06-Aug-92
5 Rai Benjamin USA 46.17 2 Olympic Games Tokyo 03-Aug-21
6 Karsten Warholm NOR 45.94 1 Olympic Games Tokyo 03-Aug-21
7 Karsten Warholm NOR 46.70 1 Bislett Games Oslo 01-Jul-21
8 Karsten Warholm NOR 46.87 1 Bauhaus Galan Stockholm 23-Aug-20
9 Edwin Moses USA 47.37 1 World Cup Rome 04-Sep-81
* Bryan Bronson ran 47.03 from lane 3 at the ’98 USATF final (New Orleans, June 11), but shortly thereafter had a major doping positive and T&FN doesn’t recognize any of his marks from that calendar year. 
MEN’S 4 x 100
1 Great Britain GBR 37.98 5 Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro 19-Aug-16
(Kilty, Aikines-Aryeety, Ellington, Gemili)
2 Canada CAN 37.89 3h1 Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro 18-Aug-16
(Haynes, Brown, Rodney, Ajomale)
3 USA USA 37.48 1 World Champs Stuttgart 22-Aug-93
(Drummond, Cason, Mitchell, Burrell)
4 Jamaica JAM 37.27 1 Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro 19-Aug-16
(Powell, Blake, Ashmeade, Bolt)
5 Jamaica JAM 37.36 1 World Champs Moscow 18-Aug-13
(Carter, Frater, Bolt, Powell)
6 Jamaica JAM 36.84 1 Olympic Games London 11-Aug-12
(Carter, Frater, Blake, Bolt)
7 Jamaica JAM 37.31 1 World Champs Berlin 22-Aug-09
(Mullings, Frater, Bolt, Powell)
8 USA USA 37.10 1 World Champs Doha 05-Oct-19
(Coleman, Gatlin, Rodgers, Lyles)
9 China CHN 37.79 3h2 World Champs Doha 04-Oct-19
(Su, Xu, Wu, Xie) 

 

WOMEN’S 200
1 Marita Koch GDR 21.90 1 World Cup Canberra 04-Oct-85
2 Marita Koch GDR 21.71 1 v Canada Karl-Marx-Stadt 10-Jun-79
3 Heike Drechsler GDR 21.71 1 GDR Ch Jena 29-Jun-86
4 Merlene Ottey JAM 21.64 1 Van Damme Brussels 13-Sep-91
5 Florence Griffith-Joyner USA 21.34 1 Olympic Games Seoul 29-Sep-88
6 Gabby Thomas USA 21.61 1 Olympic Trials Eugene 27-Jun-21
7 Elaine Thompson-Herah JAM 21.53 1 Olympic Games Tokyo 03-Aug-21
8 Evelyn Ashford USA 21.83 1 World Cup Montreal 24-Aug-79
9 Marion Jones USA 21.62(A) 1 World Cup Johannesburg 11-Sep-98
   (low-altitude) Elaine Thompson-Herah JAM 21.66 1s2 Olympic Games Tokyo 02-Aug-21
WOMEN’S 400
1 Olga Vladykina UKR 48.27 2 World Cup Canberra 06-Oct-85
2 Marita Koch GDR 47.60 1 World Cup Canberra 06-Oct-85
3 Jarmila Kratochvílová CZE 47.99 1 World Champs Helsinki 10-Aug-83
4 Cathy Freeman AUS 48.63 2 Olympic Games Atlanta 29-Jul-96
5 Salwa Eid Naser BHR 48.14 1 World Champs Doha 03-Oct-19
6 Jarmila Kratochvílová CZE 48.61 1 World Cup Rome 06-Sep-81
7 Shaunae Miller-Uibo BAH 48.36 1 Olympic Games Tokyo 06-Aug-21
8 Marita Koch GDR 48.60 1 Euro Cup Turin 04-Aug-79
9 Alyson Felix USA 49.46 3 Olympic Games Tokyo 06-Aug-21
WOMEN’S 400 HURDLES
1 Yulia Pechonkina RUS 53.38 1 Euro Cup Annecy 22-Jun-02
2 Anna Ryzhykova UKR 53.48 5 Olympic Games Tokyo 04-Aug-21
3 Lashinda Demus USA 52.47 1 World Champs Daegu 01-Sep-11
4 Sydney McLaughlin USA 51.46 1 Olympic Games Tokyo 04-Aug-21
5 Femke Bol NED 52.03 3 Olympic Games Tokyo 04-Aug-21
6 Sydney McLaughlin USA 51.90 1 Olympic Trials Eugene 27-Jun-21
7 Dalilah Muhammad USA 51.58 2 Olympic Games Tokyo 04-Aug-21
8 Melaine Walker JAM 52.73 2 World Champs Daegu 01-Sep-11
9 Kori Carter USA 53.07 1 World Champs London 10-Aug-17
WOMEN’S 4 x 100
1 USA USA 41.01 1 Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro 19-Aug-16
(Bartoletta, Felix, Gardner, Bowie)
2 USA USA 41.64 1h1 Olympic Games London 09-Aug-12
(Bartoletta, Tarmoh, Knight, Williams)
3 USA USA 41.49 2 World Champs Stuttgart 22-Aug-93
(Burrell, Torrence, Vereen, Devers)
4 Jamaica JAM 41.44 1 World Champs Doha 05-Oct-19
(Whyte, Fraser-Pryce, Smith, Jackson)
5 East Germany GDR 41.37 1 World Cup Canberra 06-Oct-85
(Möller, Günther, Auerswald, Göhr)
6 Jamaica JAM 41.29 1 World Champs Moscow 18-Aug-13
(Russell, Stewart, Calvert, Fraser-Pryce)
7 USA USA 40.82 1 Olympic Games London 10-Aug-12
(Bartoletta, Felix, Knight, Jeter)
8 Jamaica JAM 41.02 1 Olympic Games Tokyo 06-Aug-21
(Williams, Thompson-Herah, Fraser-Pryce, Jackson)
9 Switzerland SUI 42.18 4 World Champs Doha 05-Oct-19
(del Ponte, Atcho, Kambundji, Kora) 

Acknowledgements

A compilation of this sort would not be possible without a great deal of help from around the world. Richard Hymans provided a great deal of early assistance and encouragement and Andreas Brügger, the director emeritus of the Weltklasse in Zürich took time out of a very busy schedule to fill in the many holes that only a meeting of the Weltklasse’s consistent quality could create.

Jonas Lindström of Sweden provided excellent assistance for periods from 1999 to 2003. Bob Hersh encouraged the most recent updates and provided many useful research suggestions. Yoshi Oikawa of Japan provided valuable additions and amendments with respect to marks from lane 9 and the last two Olympics..

Thank you also to YouTube!

Bert Nelson, my long-departed friend, provided the inspiration for this work.

I acknowledge, with thanks, the help of the following:

Federations and Institutions: International Amateur Athletic Federation; USA Track and Field; Czech Athletic Federation; Amateur Athletic Federation of India; Athletics South Africa; Real Federation Espanolo Athletico; National Collegiate Athletic Association; Pacific 10 Athletic Conference; University of California Los Angeles; University of Houston; University of Indiana; Rice University; Mt. San Antonio College.

Athletics Meetings: Athletissima; BNP; Ciudad de Barcelona; Mt. SAC Relays; New York Games; Nikaia; Sestriere; Seville; Weltklasse in Zürich.

Individuals: Francesco Ascorbe; Albert Baronet; Hal Bateman; Naomi Beinart; Bill Bennett; Robert Bertojo; Lalit Bhanot; Jose Luis de Carlos; Scott Davis; Jacky Delapierre; Joe DeLoach; Dean Diltz; Joe Douglas; Tony Dupont; Jerry Fuqua; Sandro Giovanelli; Ed Gordon; Marshall Goss; Danny Harris; Roberto Hernandez; Garry Hill; Ian Hodge; Art Hoffman; Paul Houde, Dave Johnson; Michael Johnson; Tom Jordan; Carl Lewis; Gert le Roux; Harley Lewis; Francesco Liello; Mike Marsh; Walter Murphy; Flavio Musso; Petri Niininen; Merlene Ottey; Shawn Price; Don Quarrie; R.L. Quercetani; Felix Sanchez, Mark Sanders; Dan Shrum; Peter Siegel; John Smith; Matt Spiller; Allan Steinfeld; Mike Takaha; Libor Varhanik.

Copyright (c) 1984-2021 Jed W. Brickner

Amendments should be sent to jedbrickner@gmail.com.