We use cookies to give you the best possible experience of our website. If you continue, we'll assume you're happy for your web browser to receive all cookies from our website. See our cookie policy for more information on cookies and how to manage them.

Close

The longest and shortest held Olympic records

Records are made to be broken, and in a competition as elitist and intense as the summer Olympics, it seems natural that everyone would be aiming for the top. For some, success can last a lifetime, and can secure them as icons in the athletic world. But, others come to understand that success is fleeting, and records can only stand for so long. This list looks at some of the longest and shortest Olympic records ever held.

 Bob Beamon

Instantly, the infamous long jump by Bob Beamon in the 1968 Mexico City games comes to mind. Beamon set not only the Olympic record with his jump of 8.9 meters, but also cleared the world record of 27 feet 4 inches. 

He was the first of his time to not only clear the 28 foot mark, but also leap further than the 29 foot mark (his jump equated to 29 feet 2 inches). Although his world record was beaten in 1991 by Mike Powell, his Olympic record still stands to this day.

Jesse Owens

In a tense head to head battle against German athlete Luz Long, who he later became life long friends with despite the racist ideology of 1936 Germany, Jesse Owens managed to secure the long jump Olympic record. With a leap of 26 feet, 5 ½ inches, Owens secured a record that would hold for 24 years.

Marjorie Gestring and Inge Sorensen

13 year old springboard diver Marjorie Gestring represented the USA at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. Gestring has set the record as the youngest gold-medal winner in Olympic history, which has not been broken to date. 

The same games set the Olympic record for the youngest Olympic medallist in history, with Inge Sorensen representing Denmark in the 200 meter breaststroke, and taking a bronze medal aged just 12 years 24 days old.

 Jarmila Kratochvilova

Czech sprinter Jarmila Kratochvilova holds the longest surviving record in women’s track and field, by running 800 meters in 1 minute and 53 seconds at the 1983 Olympics. There has been wide speculation of Kratochvilova’s use of performance-enhancing drugs, but these have never been proven.

Naim Süleymanoğlu

A tough weightlifting battle at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics between Turkish Süleymanoğlu and Greek Valerios Leonidis saw a stream of world records set and immediately broken. 

After the pair traded 3 world record lifts, Süleymanoğlu lifted 413.37, followed by Leonidis failing in his 418.88 pounds attempt, and subsequently bursting into tears. Leonidis was a world record holder for merely minutes, before his final failure.

Thierry Vigneron

French Vigneron set the world record for pole volting in the Rome 1984 Olympics, at 5.91 meters. However, this victory was extremely short lived, as fellow competitor Sergey Bubka took his turn straight after Vigneron, and broke his record with a 5.94m victory.

Guiseppe Gentile and Nelson Prudencio

As if it wasn’t hard enough for one person to have a world record snatched from their grasp – it gets even worse when two people have it taken… in the same competition. Italy’s Giuseppe Gentile first broke the record with a 17.10 metre jump in the men’s triple jump, and then smashed his own record the next day with a 17.22 metre jump. 

Viktor Saneyev later broke this record with a 17.23 metre jump, but was soon beaten by Brazillian Nelson Prudencio with a 17.27 m jump. Not one to be outdone, Saneyev completed the day by leaping an outstanding 17.39m, and securing his world record. 

Disclaimer

Any views or opinions expressed in this briefing are for guidance only and are not intended as a substitute for appropriate professional guidance. We have taken all reasonable steps to ensure the information contained herein is accurate at the time of writing but it should not be regarded as a complete or authoritative statement of law.