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Ever sprinted so fast you left time behind?

From shattering records to defying limits, these titans ignite the track and field echelons.

Are you ready to race through history with the speed of legends?

Best Track and Field Athletes:

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

#1 Usain Bolt

  • 🌍 Nationality: Jamaican
  • πŸŽ‚Β Date of Birth: August 21, 1986
  • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Sprinter
  • πŸ†Β Career Highlights: 8Γ— Olympic Gold Medalist, 11Γ— World Champion, World Records in 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay

Known as “Lightning Bolt,” Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world. His exceptional speed and larger-than-life personality have made him the face of track and field. Bolt’s trademark running technique defies conventional wisdom, showing that height can complement speed with his long stride and explosive acceleration.

Off the track, Bolt’s impact extends through his philanthropy, particularly with the Usain Bolt Foundation, which supports educational and cultural opportunities for children in Jamaica. His charismatic demeanor has translated into a global brand, with endorsements and appearances that transcend sports. Bolt’s easy-going personality and dedication to his community make him a beloved figure worldwide.

#2 Carl Lewis

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • πŸŽ‚Β Date of Birth: July 1, 1961
  • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Sprinter and Long Jumper
  • πŸ†Β Career Highlights: 9Γ— Olympic Gold Medalist, 1Γ— Olympic Silver Medalist, 8Γ— World Champion

Carl Lewis, also known as “King Carl,” is celebrated for his dominance in sprinting and long jump throughout the 1980s and early ’90s. His technical prowess and consistency made him a force to be reckoned with, while his longevity is a testament to his discipline and evolving training strategies.

Lewis encountered controversy related to eligibility and advertising, but his competitive spirit never wavered. After retiring from athletics, he has been involved in acting and various charitable activities. As an advocate for veganism and fitness, Carl Lewis continues to influence health and wellness beyond his storied athletic career.

#3 Jesse Owens

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • πŸŽ‚Β Date of Birth: September 12, 1913
  • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Sprinter and Long Jumper
  • πŸ†Β Career Highlights: 4Γ— Olympic Gold Medalist (1936)

Jesse Owens, known as “The Buckeye Bullet,” made history at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, challenging Nazi ideologies by triumphing in the face of segregation and racial discrimination. His extraordinary athleticism and grace under pressure remain inspirational to athletes across the globe.

Owens’s Olympic feats symbolized the broader struggle for civil rights, and he became a role model for millions. Despite the challenges he faced upon returning home, his legacy as a champion, both on and off the track, has endured. His outreach, particularly in youth athletics, has immortalized his name as an ambassador of sportsmanship and equality.

#4 Michael Johnson

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

Michael Johnson, distinguished by his gold shoes and unique upright running style, revolutionized sprinting, particularly in the 200m and 400m events. His intense training methods and focus on form brought him unprecedented success and longevity in a demanding sport.

Aside from his sporting success, Johnson has worked as a sports commentator and has launched various initiatives, including the Michael Johnson Performance center, aimed at athlete development. His endeavors off the track continue to influence the next generation of sports professionals, and his active role in promoting sport and health epitomizes a champion’s continued legacy.

#5 Jackie Joyner-Kersee

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • πŸŽ‚Β Date of Birth: March 3, 1962
  • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Heptathlete and Long Jumper
  • πŸ†Β Career Highlights: 3Γ— Olympic Gold Medalist, 1Γ— Silver, 2Γ— Bronze, 4Γ— World Champion

Jackie Joyner-Kersee is hailed as one of the greatest female athletes of all time, dominating in the heptathlon and long jump with her versatile skill set and fierce competitive spirit. She earned her place in the sport’s pantheon by breaking world records and redefining the limits for female athletes.

Overcoming health challenges including asthma and severe injuries, Joyner-Kersee’s resilience is as notable as her Olympic success. Off the track, her dedication to philanthropy through the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation shows her commitment to empowering young people. Her work promoting health, fitness, and education solidifies her status as an influential advocate.

#6 Sergey Bubka

  • 🌍 Nationality: Ukrainian
  • πŸŽ‚Β Date of Birth: December 4, 1963
  • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Pole Vaulter
  • πŸ†Β Career Highlights: 1Γ— Olympic Gold Medalist, 6Γ— World Champion, Broke the World Record for Men’s Pole Vault 35 times

Sergey Bubka, known for shattering the pole vault world record multiple times, introduced innovative techniques that transformed the event. His exceptional athleticism and pioneering approach to training and technique raised the bar in the field of pole vaulting.

Apart from his athletic conquests, Bubka has had a significant impact on sports administration, serving in various roles within the International Olympic Committee and advocating for sports development. His contributions to the sport and his dedication to nurturing future talents are a testament to his enduring influence in the realm of athletics.

#7 Florence Griffith Joyner

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

Florence Griffith Joyner, or “Flo-Jo,” remains the fastest woman of all time, with her world records in the 100m and 200m still unbroken. Her striking sense of style and her record-breaking speed made her an icon both on and off the track. Griffith Joyner’s fluid running technique and blistering acceleration captivated audiences and left a lasting impact on sprinting.

Her sudden retirement from the sport and untimely death at the age of 38 left the track world mourning a sensational athlete. Her legacy, however, lives on through her records and the continued inspiration she provides for athletes striving for excellence while embracing individuality.

#8 Edwin Moses

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • πŸŽ‚Β Date of Birth: August 31, 1955
  • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: 400m Hurdler
  • πŸ†Β Career Highlights: 2Γ— Olympic Gold Medalist, 2Γ— World Champion, Held record for 400m hurdles for nearly a decade

Edwin Moses is synonymous with the 400m hurdles, a highly technical event that he continuously excelled in, amassing a winning streak of 122 consecutive races over nearly a decade. His unparalleled dominance is attributed to his innovative 13-step technique between the hurdles and intense focus on conditioning.

Moses played a vital role in reforming Olympic eligibility and drug testing protocols, making significant contributions to the integrity of sports. After retiring, his commitment to humanitarian efforts, such as the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, emphasizes his belief in the transformative power of sport. Moses’ legacy transcends his athletic achievements, underscoring his stature as an advocate for fairness and progress in sports.

#9 Paavo Nurmi

  • 🌍 Nationality: Finnish
  • πŸŽ‚Β Date of Birth: June 13, 1897
  • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Long-distance runner
  • πŸ†Β Career Highlights: 9 Olympic Gold medals, 3 Olympic Silver medals, Set 22 official world records in distances ranging from 1500 meters to 20 kilometers

Often referred to as the “Flying Finn,” Paavo Nurmi dominated distance running in the early 20th century. His unyielding pace strategy and methodical training regime became a blueprint for future generations. Nurmi faced accusations of professionalism, which was a violation of the amateurism rules of his time, leading to his suspension and barring him from competing in the 1932 Olympics.

Despite this controversy, Nurmi’s impact on track and field endures. His tactical approach to racing influenced countless runners, and his success was a source of national pride for Finland during its early independence. Post-retirement, Nurmi focused on coaching and entrepreneurship, while his legacy continued to inspire athletes worldwide.

#10 Allyson Felix

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • πŸŽ‚Β Date of Birth: November 18, 1985
  • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Sprinter
  • πŸ†Β Career Highlights: 7 Olympic Gold medals, 3 Olympic Silver medals, 2 Olympic Bronze medals, Numerous World Championships

Nicknamed “Chicken Legs” for her lanky physiqu, Allyson Felix is admired for her smooth and efficient running technique, which has led her to become one of the most decorated female track and field athletes. She faced challenges in her career, including a difficult pregnancy and a public battle with a sponsor over maternity protections for athletes.

Felix’s contributions extend beyond the track. As an advocate for women’s rights and racial justice, she’s used her platform to push for change in sports and society. Her activism and business ventures show a commitment to empowering the next generation of female athletes. Felix’s grace and resiliency, both as an athlete and as a person, redefine what success looks like in track and field.

#11 Daley Thompson

  • 🌍 Nationality: British
  • πŸŽ‚Β Date of Birth: July 30, 1958
  • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Decathlete
  • πŸ†Β Career Highlights: 2 Olympic Gold medals, 3 Commonwealth Gold medals, 2 World Championships Gold medals, Former world record holder

Daley Thompson, known for his fierce competitiveness and charismatic personality, is one of the greatest decathletes of all time. His rigorous training and versatile skill set allowed him to excel across ten events. While his sometimes brash behavior polarized opinions, his dedication to excellence was never in question.

Thompson’s legacy goes beyond his athletic deeds. Following retirement, he’s been involved in promoting physical fitness and mentoring young athletes. His efforts in advancing athletics and his contribution to sports culture in the UK have sealed his status as a national sporting icon.

#12 Fanny Blankers-Koen

  • 🌍 Nationality: Dutch
  • πŸŽ‚Β Date of Birth: April 26, 1918
  • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Sprinter, hurdler, and long jumper
  • πŸ†Β Career Highlights: 4 Olympic Gold medals, 5 European Championships Gold medals

Dubbed “The Flying Housewife,” Fanny Blankers-Koen shattered stereotypes by excelling in athletics as a mother, a rarity at the time. Her explosive speed and versatility made her a phenomenon, especially during the 1948 Olympics where she won four gold medals. Facing criticism for not conforming to traditional gender roles, she nevertheless became an emblem for female athletes.

Her impact on the sport was monumental, pioneering the way for future generations of women in athletics. After retirement, Blankers-Koen remained involved in sports, contributing to the development of track and field in the Netherlands and inspiring women to embrace competitive sport.

#13 Haile Gebrselassie

  • 🌍 Nationality: Ethiopian
  • πŸŽ‚Β Date of Birth: April 18, 1973
  • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Long-distance runner
  • πŸ†Β Career Highlights: 2 Olympic Gold medals, 8 World Championships Gold medals, Set 27 world records

Haile Gebrselassie, known for his enduring smile and small stature, revolutionized long-distance running with his remarkable endurance and tempo. He famously battled with Paul Tergat in epic races, notably in the 2000 Sydney Olympics 10,000m final, demonstrating his indomitable spirit and tactical genius.

Outside of running, Gebrselassie actively engaged in humanitarian and developmental efforts, particularly in Ethiopia. His ventures in real estate and other industries aimed at improving the economy and living standards in his home country. Gebrselassie’s unmatched career and philanthropic work make him an iconic figure in the world of athletics and a national hero.

#14 Mo Farah

  • 🌍 Nationality: British
  • πŸŽ‚Β Date of Birth: March 23, 1983
  • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Long-distance runner
  • πŸ†Β Career Highlights: 4 Olympic Gold medals, 6 World Championships Gold medals

Sir Mo Farah, with his famous “Mobot” celebration, has become the face of British long-distance running. His strategic racing, characterized by a strong finish kick, has led to numerous victories on the global stage. Farah faced controversies around missed drug tests and his association with a coach with a doping scandal, although he has never failed a test himself.

Farah’s contributions to athletics and his charitable initiatives have earned him widespread respect. His personal story of arriving in the UK as a Somalian refugee and rising to athletic prominence serves as an inspirational tale of determination and resilience. Off the track, Farah’s philanthropic work and his standing as a family man further solidify his status as a role model.

#15 Emil ZΓ‘topek

  • 🌍 Nationality: Czechoslovakian (Czech Republic)
  • πŸŽ‚Β Date of Birth: September 19, 1922
  • πŸƒβ€β™‚οΈ Position/Role: Long-distance runner
  • πŸ†Β Career Highlights: 4 Olympic Gold medals, 1 Olympic Silver medal, Set 18 world records

Emil ZΓ‘topek, the “Czech Locomotive,” was celebrated for his distinctive and relentless running style. His intense and unusual training methods, which included running in heavy work boots, contributed to his endurance and toughness. Post-retirement, ZΓ‘topek faced political persecution following his support for the Prague Spring, leading to a period of menial work despite his athletic achievements.

Considered one of the greatest long-distance runners, ZΓ‘topek was admired for his sportsmanship and humility. His contributions to running technique and training are still relevant. Beyond athletics, ZΓ‘topek’s story is one of athletic glory, personal hardship, and ultimate redemption. His legacy is a testament to the enduring spirit of competition and the human connection that sports can foster.

Track and Field

FAQ

Who is the best Track and Field athlete of all time?

Usain Bolt is the best Track and Field athlete of all time. Here’s a link to our article on why we think Usain Bolt is the best Track and Field player of all time. His record-breaking speed and charismatic personality have made him a global icon.

Who are the top 10 greatest Track and Field athletes of all time?

Usain Bolt, Carl Lewis, Jesse Owens, Michael Johnson, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Sergey Bubka, Florence Griffith-Joyner, Edwin Moses, Paavo Nurmi, and Allyson Felix are the top 10 greatest Track and Field athletes of all time. This illustrious group has set new standards and broken numerous world records in their respective events.

Who is the most famous female Track and Field athlete?

Jackie Joyner-Kersee is the most famous female Track and Field athlete. Her achievements in the heptathlon and long jump have earned her three Olympic gold medals and a reputation as one of the greatest athletes in Track and Field history.

Meet Rev, one of our dedicated team members who embodies the essence of sports passion. When he’s not immersed in the world of sports content creation, Rev is busy honing his skills in esports and exploring the great outdoors through activities like hiking and basketball.

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