Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now

The Greatest Olympic 100m Champions

Posted on July 28, 2011 by Rod Crowley

With the countdown on to the 2012 London Olympics (yesterday was one year til the opening ceremony), I’ll be starting a new series of posts looking at some of the greatest Olympians. To start off here’s a view on the best ever 100m runners.

Who was or is the best ever Olympic Mens 100m Champion is not necessarily the easiest question to answer but having seen Usain Bolt take the Gold Medal in a new World Record time in the 2008 Olympic Final at the Beijing Olympic games, it is difficult to challenge that the reigning champion is the best ever, but who else must be considered?

Bolt of course also took the Gold Medal in the 200m in Beijing and has since gone on and broken that world record several times. His current record of 9.58 recorded in Berlin in 2009 will be hard for even him to beat and it is why he is the favorite in the 100m Odds to win a second Olympic Gold medal next year at London 2012.

The Olympic champion from the 2000 Games in Sydney, Maurice Greene was an outstanding champion in his own right. He was a world record holder during his heyday and also won two 100m world championships in Athens and Seville.

Greene, who is an American is also a former world indoor champion as well as the world record holder for the 60m and is the joint fastest man of all time over the 50m dash.

Donovan Bailey winner of the Olympic 100m title at the 1996 Atlanta Game’s, can also be mentioned as a potential all time great due mainly to the fact that he has the fastest ever time recorded during a race. His 27.07 mph has never been bettered and who knows that with the better training facilities and improved sports science 15 years on, he may have been able to maintain that pace for longer.

Bailey also won the unofficial battle of the world’s fastest man between him and 200m World and Olympic champion, Michael Johnson after the two agreed to race it out over 150m. In the event, Johnson when someway adrift pulled out with an injury leaving bailey to claim the money and of course the title.

There would be many that would select that great American champion, Carl Lewis as the greatest ever 100m Olympic champion after he won the Gold Medal back to back in 1984 Los Angeles and 1988 in Seoul. He remains the only athlete to have achieved that feat.

Lewis in fact won an incredible nine Olympic Gold Medals, four Long Jump titles, a 200m title also in 1984 and two 100m relay Gold’s. Add to his incredibly career tally, Lewis also won three 100m World Championship crowns and two long jump titles, which clearly puts him way ahead of Bolt in all round athletic ability.

However, based on Bolt’s unbelievable speed and his ability to win a race by halfway, he probably is the greatest sprinter the world has ever seen, however, due to his greater range Lewis has to be regarded as the better athlete.

1.      Usain Bolt – Jamaica

2.      Carl Lewis – USA

3.      Maurice Greene – USA

4.      Donovan Bailey – Canada

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