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Ever wondered who blazes past the finish line fastest?

From lung-busting sprints to high-stamina marathons, these 15 athletes set the track on fire with speed and grit.

Strap in as we race through the stories of the swiftest titans of the track.

Best Runners:

  1. Usain Bolt
  2. Carl Lewis
  3. Paavo Nurmi
  4. Emil ZΓ‘topek
  5. Jesse Owens
  6. Mo Farah
  7. Kenenisa Bekele
  8. Haile Gebrselassie
  9. Florence Griffith Joyner
  10. Michael Johnson
  11. Jackie Joyner-Kersee
  12. Fanny Blankers-Koen
  13. Edwin Moses
  14. Sergey Bubka
  15. Allyson Felix

#1 Usain Bolt

  • 🌍 Nationality: Jamaican
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: August 21, 1986
  • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Sprinter
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 8x Olympic gold medalist, 11x World Champion, World records holder in 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay

Usain Bolt, widely known as “Lightning Bolt,” is celebrated for his breathtaking speed and ability to dominate the track with unparalleled acceleration and top-end speed. His tall frame defied conventional wisdom about the ideal sprinter’s build, redefining what was possible in the sport.

Bolt captured the world’s imagination with his charisma and showmanship, frequently engaging with fans and bringing a sense of entertainment to athletics. His impact extends beyond his records: inspiring a generation of athletes, contributing to charitable causes, and serving as a global ambassador for sport. Concerning controversies, Bolt has managed to maintain a relatively clean slate throughout his career.

#2 Carl Lewis

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: July 1, 1961
  • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Sprinter and Long Jumper
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 9x Olympic gold medalist, 8x World Champion, set world records in 100m, 4x100m relay, and 4x200m relay

Carl Lewis, also known as “King Carl,” is one of the most decorated athletes with supreme skills in both sprinting and long jump. His technical proficiency and consistency brought him decades of success, establishing him as a dominant force in the 1980s and early ’90s.

Lewis faced criticisms regarding his outspoken personality and faced doping allegations, which he overcame by maintaining his performance levels. His legacy includes advocacy for veganism and involvement in charity work, making his mark as a sports icon whose influence stretches into social and wellness spheres.

#3 Paavo Nurmi

  • 🌍 Nationality: Finnish
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: June 13, 1897
  • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Middle-distance and Long-distance Runner
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 9x Olympic gold medalist, 22 world records, International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Hall of Fame inductee

Known as the “Flying Finn,” Paavo Nurmi was a running legend of the early 20th century who brought rigorous self-discipline and precise pacing to long-distance events. His innovative training methods and the use of a stopwatch helped revolutionize distance running.

Nurmi faced a significant challenge when he was suspended for breaching amateurism rules, which ended his Olympic career prematurely. Despite this setback, his impact on distance running remains, and his approach to training continues to influence athletes worldwide. Nurmi’s commitment to sport and his lasting influence earned him a place as a national hero in Finland.

#4 Emil ZΓ‘topek

  • 🌍 Nationality: Czechoslovak
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: September 19, 1922
  • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Long-distance Runner
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 4x Olympic gold medalist, 1x Olympic silver medalist, 18 world records, the only athlete to win the 5000m, 10000m, and marathon in the same Olympic Games

Emil ZΓ‘topek, also known as “The Czech Locomotive,” was celebrated for his relentless running style and extraordinary endurance. His grueling training sessions and humble demeanor endeared him to fans and fellow competitors alike.

ZΓ‘topek’s career saw hardships when he faced political persecution during the Prague Spring for his support of the reform movement. Post-athletics, he became a symbol of determination, integrity, and sporting excellence, leaving a legacy that transcends his athletic achievements, including his generous act of gifting one of his Olympic gold medals to Australian runner Ron Clarke.

#5 Jesse Owens

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: September 12, 1913
  • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Sprinter and Long Jumper
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 4x Olympic gold medalist (1936), set three world records in less than an hour at the 1935 Big Ten track meet

Jesse Owens, known as the “Buckeye Bullet,” dazzled the world with his extraordinary sprinting and long jump performances, particularly at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where he defied Nazi racial ideology. His superb athleticism and grace under pressure made him a sports and civil rights icon.

Despite the racial prejudice he faced, both at home in the United States and abroad, Owens’ achievements spoke volumes for equality and human rights. After his sports career, he dedicated his life to youth development and humanitarian work, engaging in initiatives that fostered the values he represented.

#6 Mo Farah

  • 🌍 Nationality: British
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: March 23, 1983
  • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Long-distance Runner
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 4x Olympic gold medalist, 6x World Champion, European athletics records in 1500m, 10,000m, half marathon, and two miles

Sir Mo Farah captured the hearts of many with his signature “Mobot” celebration and tactical brilliance on the track. His kick in the final laps of races and his endurance have made him one of the most successful British track athletes in history.

Farah has been involved in controversy, with his coach Alberto Salazar being banned for doping violations. However, Farah himself has never failed a drug test. Aside from athletics, he is a philanthropist, involved in various initiatives, especially focusing on helping East Africa’s most vulnerable populations.

#7 Kenenisa Bekele

  • 🌍 Nationality: Ethiopian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: June 13, 1982
  • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Long-distance Runner
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 3x Olympic gold medalist, 5x World Champion, former 5000m and 10000m world record holder

Kenenisa Bekele is revered in the world of distance running, known for his incredible speed and versatility. His smooth stride and formidable finishing kick have led him to numerous victories and records.

Bekele’s career has involved battling injuries which he overcame through resilience and commitment to rigorous training. He is not only a sports icon but is also actively involved in hotel and fitness ventures in Ethiopia, contributing to his country’s economy and inspiring young athletes.

#8 Haile Gebrselassie

  • 🌍 Nationality: Ethiopian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: April 18, 1973
  • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Long-distance Runner
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 2x Olympic gold medalist, 8x World Champion, former world record holder in the marathon

Haile Gebrselassie, famed for his radiant smile and diminutive stature, has an extensive reign as one of the greatest distance runners. His fluid running style and powerful sprints at the end of races have made him a standout athlete.

Nicknamed the “Emperor,” Gebrselassie transcended the world of athletics, becoming an influential businessman and advocate for social issues in Ethiopia. His commitment to education, health, and the environment, along with his contributions to sports, make him a beloved national figure and an inspiration across the globe.

#9 Florence Griffith Joyner

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: December 21, 1959
  • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Sprinter
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 3Γ— Olympic Gold Medalist (1988), 2Γ— Olympic Silver Medalist (1984, 1988), World Record Holder for 100m and 200m

Florence Griffith Joyner, also known as “Flo-Jo,” dazzled the world with her blistering speed and flamboyant style. She is best remembered for her record-breaking performances in the late 1980s, which have withstood the test of time. Joyner’s speed was matched only by her fashion on the track, known for her one-legged racing suits and elaborate nails.

Her untimely death at the age of 38 shocked the world, but her legacy endures in athletics. Outside of her sprinting career, Flo-Jo was also a passionate advocate for children’s health and fitness, encouraging the next generation to live active, healthy lifestyles. Her records and commitment to sport set a high bar for future sprinters.

#10 Michael Johnson

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: September 13, 1967
  • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Sprinter
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 4Γ— Olympic Gold Medalist, 8Γ— World Champion, Former World Record Holder for 200m and 400m

Michael Johnson, known for his unique, upright running style and gold track shoes, dominated the 200m and 400m sprints in the 1990s. His combination of speed and endurance was unparalleled, earning him the nickname “Superman” after his outstanding performance at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Post-retirement, Johnson remains involved in athletics as a commentator and trainer. He founded Michael Johnson Performance to help train aspiring athletes. His contributions to the sport and his dedication to mentoring the next generation of track and field stars has cemented his place as one of the all-time greats.

#11 Jackie Joyner-Kersee

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: March 3, 1962
  • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Heptathlete / Long jumper
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 3Γ— Olympic Gold Medalist, 4Γ— World Champion, Former World Record Holder for Heptathlon

Jackie Joyner-Kersee is often hailed as the greatest female athlete of all time for her dominance in the heptathlon and long jump. Her intense training and fierce competitive spirit led to numerous accolades and a long-standing heptathlon world record. Her accolades and inspiring career have secured her status as a legend in track and field.

Beyond her athletics career, Joyner-Kersee has been a powerful advocate for children’s education, health, and sports development through the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation. Her work off the field has made as much impact as her world-record performances, shining as a role model for athletes and activists alike.

#12 Fanny Blankers-Koen

  • 🌍 Nationality: Dutch
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: April 26, 1918
  • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Sprinter / Hurdler
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 4Γ— Olympic Gold Medalist (1948), 5Γ— European Champion

Fanny Blankers-Koen, known as “The Flying Housewife,” shattered stereotypes when she won four gold medals at the 1948 London Olympics, all while being a mother of two. Her triumphs challenged misconceptions about age and gender in athletics, and she remained an iconic figure in women’s sports.

Blankers-Koen faced considerable challenges due to competing during the period of World War II, but her determination and resolve led to her groundbreaking success. Her impact on women’s athletics has been lasting, and she’s often cited as a trailblazer who cleared the way for future generations of female athletes.

#13 Edwin Moses

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: August 31, 1955
  • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: 400m hurdler
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 2Γ— Olympic Gold Medalist (1976, 1984), 2Γ— World Champion (1983, 1987), Winner of 122 consecutive races

Edwin Moses redefined the 400m hurdles with his innovative 13-step technique between barriers, which contributed to his incredible 122-race unbeaten streak over a decade. His dominance in the event earned him the reputation of an unbeatable force in the sport.

After his retirement, Moses has played an important role in anti-doping efforts and reform in sports through his work with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). As a physicist by education and an athlete by vocation, he continues to influence the world of athletics both scientifically and ethically.

#14 Sergey Bubka

  • 🌍 Nationality: Ukrainian
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: December 4, 1963
  • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Pole vaulter
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 6Γ— World Champion, Olympic Gold Medalist (1988), Broke the World Record for Men’s Pole Vault 35 times

Sergey Bubka, a pole vaulting legend, consistently pushed the boundaries of his sport, breaking the world record 35 times and becoming the first vaulter to clear 6.00 meters. His dedication to technique and training set new standards in pole vaulting.

Bubka’s impact transcends his athletic achievements; he has made significant contributions to the development of sports worldwide. After retiring, he has served in various administrative roles, including as a member of the IOC, promoting sports and the principles of Olympism across the globe.

#15 Allyson Felix

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • πŸŽ‚ Date of Birth: November 18, 1985
  • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Sprinter
  • πŸ† Career Highlights: 7Γ— Olympic Gold Medalist, 13Γ— World Champion, Most decorated female track and field athlete in Olympic history

Allyson Felix is celebrated for her longevity and success across multiple Olympic cycles, garnering the title of most decorated female track and field athlete in Olympic history. Her ability to perform at the highest level in the 100m, 200m, and 400m showcases her extraordinary range and talent.

Beyond her athletic achievements, Felix has become an advocate for female athletes and maternity rights, speaking out against the inequalities they face. Her personal journey as a mother and an athlete has inspired many, while her involvement in charitable endeavors highlights her commitment to positive social impact.

FAQ

Who is the best Running player of all time?

Usain Bolt is the best Running player of all time. Here’s a link to our article on why we think Usain Bolt is the best track and field athlete of all time. His unmatchable speed and charisma have left an indelible mark on the sport.

Who are the top 10 greatest Running players of all time?

Usain Bolt, Carl Lewis, Paavo Nurmi, Emil ZΓ‘topek, Jesse Owens, Mo Farah, Kenenisa Bekele, Haile Gebrselassie, Florence Griffith Joyner, and Michael Johnson are the top 10 greatest Running players of all time. Each athlete has made significant contributions to track and field with their extraordinary performances and record-breaking achievements.

Who is the most famous female Running player?

Florence Griffith Joyner is the most famous female Running player. Her iconic presence in track and field is highlighted by her world records and flashy personal style, making her a legend of the sport.

Tanya is a running enthusiast who loves to run 5Ks and 10Ks. She self-trained and has completed marathons, competing in Illinois, Michigan, California, and Wisconsin. She advocates for staying healthy and strong in body, mind, and spirit. When she's not running or writing on her travel blog travelsandtreasures.com, you can usually find her managing IT projects at a global financial services company or discovering new places for family vacations.

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