The 5 Track and Field World Records Which Have Stood for the Longest Time

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A look at the five world records that have stood the test of time in the world of athletics.

Jarmila Kratochvilova holds a long-standing world record.

With increased competition and more advanced technology, world records continue to be broken in track and field athletics – however, some have certainly stood the test of time.

Jarmila Kratochvilova – Women’s 800m – 26/07/83

The longest-standing record in world record belongs to Kratochvilova, whose time of 1:53.28 set in Munich has still yet to be beaten in over 38 years.

It is remarkable when you consider how few athletes have got close to breaking her record – only Pamela Jelimo of Kenya and South Africa’s Caster Semenya have set a time within one second.

Kratochvilova was a high achiever in athletics across multiple disciplines – she won gold in the 400m and 800m in the 1983 World Championship in Helsinki and was also an Olympic silver medalist in the 400m three years earlier.

Marita Koch – Women’s 400m – 06/10/85

In the 400m, Kratochvilova is second in the all-time list behind Koch, who set her world record of 47.60 in the Canberra World Cup of 1985.

What made her run all the more remarkable is that she was drawn in lane two – usually higher performance athletes prefer running in the middle lanes.

Yet she stormed out of the blocks and by the time the race was drawing to a conclusion, all but one of the field were so far behind, they were not caught on the original camera shots.

East German Koch won a total of 11 golds across her career, including in the 1980 Olympics.

Jurgen Schult – Men’s Discus – 06/06/86

The longest-held men’s record belongs to East German Jurgen Schult who set a record of 74.08m in his homeland.

His attempt smashed the previous record of 71.86 set by Soviet Union competitor Yuriy Dumchev.

He subsequently won the gold in the Seoul Olympics of 1988 and continued competing up until Sydney 2000 when he finished eighth aged 40.

Yuriy Sedykh – Men’s Hammer – 30/08/86

Set at the European Championships in Stuttgart in 1986, Sedykh beat a world record that had only been in place just over a month when he threw the hammer 86.74m.

His career was one of great longevity – he won gold medals in the Olympics of 1976 and 1980 and also took gold in the 1991 World Athletics Championships.

Only two hammer throw attempts have come within two metres of Sedykh’s world record since.

Natalya Lysovskaya – Women’s Shot Put – 07/06/87

Lysovskaya set her world record of 22.63m in the Brothers Znamensky Memorial in Moscow.

Standing at 6 ft 2 and weighing in excess of 105kg, the then-24-year-old was perfectly built for the shot put and she broke the world record twice on the same day, with the third farthest throw also recorded by her.

She won gold in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul and was also world champion in Rome in 1987.

*All odds correct at time of writing.

A sports journalist for over 15 years, Aidan has been part of written and audio coverage on a wide-ranging number of events. Having played and coached at amateur level, he offers in-depth insight and opinion into the world of football in particular.

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