Series14 Sep 2019

Fab five: world records set at the World Championships


Fab five: world record-breakers at the World Championships (© Getty Images)

In the latest of our fab five series, we focus on a clutch of world champions who garnished their considerable achievement with the elation of posting a world record.


Stefka Kostadinova

2.09m high jump, 1987

The Bulgarian high jump ace lit up the 1987 IAAF World Championships in Rome with a stunning 2.09m clearance to add two centimetres to the world record mark.

Staring defeat in the face after two failures at 2.04m, she successfully dodged the bullet with a successful third-time clearance. At the second time of asking, Kostadinova then soared over 2.06m and, with the gold medal already in her pocket, the 22-year-old then achieved her historic clearance.

The leaping legend claimed a second world title eight years later. Some 32 years on, her world record mark remains unsurpassed.


Mike Powell

8.95m long jump, 1991

Carl Lewis may have produced the greatest six-round long jump series in history at the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo, but that counted for little as his US teammate Mike Powell captured the gold medal with a career-defining world record leap.

Universally regarded as the greatest long jump competition in history, Lewis, the defending champion and pre-event favourite, took control from the opening round. A monster wind-aided 8.91m effort (one centimetre farther than Bob Beamon’s long-standing world record, although beyond the 2.0m/s tailwind for record purposes) in round four further solidified his dominant position.

However, a sensational 8.95m from the long-limbed Powell in round five spectacularly denied Lewis.


Jonathan Edwards

18.29m triple jump, 1995

Like a pebble skimming across the water, the unassuming Brit lit up the 1995 World Championships in Gothenburg by setting not one but two triple jump world records.

Having added one centimetre to the world record just three weeks earlier with a 17.98m effort in Salamanca, Edwards came into the competition in white-hot form. A giant first effort of 18.16m tacked a further 18 centimetres on to his world record before he pierced the sand with a mighty 18.29m in round two, a mark which still sits at the top of the world all-time list.


Usain Bolt

9.58 100m and 19.19 200m, 2009

The most glittering athletics career of the modern age reached its apogee at the 2009 World Championships when the Jamaican icon advanced both his world 100m and 200m records to a mind-boggling new standard.

Bolt swaggered to a 9.58 100m clocking to wipe a gargantuan 0.11 from his world record time set at the previous summer’s Beijing Olympics. He then obliterated his 200m world record by precisely the same margin, to record a scarcely believable 19.19 – just one day before his 23rd birthday.

Ten years on, both world records remain firmly intact.


Ashton Eaton

9045 decathlon, 2015

At the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, the combined events maestro knitted together the finest two days of his decathlon career to add six points to his three-year-old world record with a brilliant 9045 total.

The charismatic and affable US athlete set the foundation for his world record with a World Championships 100m decathlon best of 10.23 and then a world decathlon 400m record of 45.00 (a mark which would have been good enough to place seventh in the individual 400m final in Beijing) on a stunning first day of competition.

Requiring a 4:18.25 1500m to lower his existing world record, he dipped 0.73 under that time to ensure his historic gold medal winning total. It was also the first decathlon world record to be set a major championships for 31 years.

Steve Landells for the IAAF