Field events are a great way to see the extent in which women can push themselves in terms of jumping or throwing ability. While we may have seen strength and leaping in other women's events, such as beach volleyball or weightlifting, track is where these abilities are truly measured and maximized by these athletes.
Let's take a look at the best of the best -- the top women in history in these Olympic events.
Record Holder:Galina Chistyakova, Soviet Union
Height: 7.52 metersSet: June 11th, 1988 in Leningrad, USSR
How: Bursting onto the long jump scene with a 1985 European Indoor Championships gold medal, Chistyakova would go on to improve over the years and eventually set the world record in the tune-up for the 1988 Olympics. Unfortunately, she failed to reproduce her form in the Olympics and won bronze.
Record Holder:Inessa Kravets, Ukraine
Height: 15.50 metersSet: August 10th, 1995
How: Kravets set the world record after famously studying the form of Jonathan Edwards, and it proved to be no fluke as Kravets went on to win gold in the 1996 Olympics. However, Kravets' career and legacy is tarnished somewhat by the multiple convictions of steroid use.
Record Holder:Stefka Kostadinova, Bulgaria
Set:August 30th, 1987 in Rome, Italy
How:Kostadinova is no stranger to setting world records, having set them seven times in her career. She set this high mark during her tuneup for the 1988 Olympics, and although she won silver, she would later win gold in the 1996 Olympics.
Record Holder: Natalya Lisosvskaya, Soviet Union
Distance: 22.63 metersSet: June 7th, 1987 in Moscow, USSR
How: A late bloomer in the shot put event, Lisosvskaya enjoyed a brief spell of dominance from 1985 to 1988, which ended with a gold in the Seoul Olympics. During this time, she set the high mark for shot put, and the record still stands today.
Record Holder:Gabriele Reinsch, Germany (East)
Distance: 76.80 metersSet: July 9th, 1988 in Neubrandenburg, East Germany
How: The 6-foot-inch 200-pound German discus thrower was always something special, but could never quite perform at the highest level. Despite setting the world record for discus throwing -- modern women find it difficult to even break 70 meters -- Reinsch was unable to win any major title, and finished 7th in her only Olympic appearence in 1988.
Record Holder:Bette Heidler, Germany
Set:May 21st, 2011 in Halle, Germany
How:While most womens records were set in the late 1980s, Heidler perhaps stands out even more today because of how recent in which her record was set. Heidler will be looking to restore German dominance in field events -- at least the hammer throw -- when she goes for gold this summer.
Record Holder:Barbora Spotakova, Czech Republic
Set:September 13th, 2008 at Stuttgart, Germany
How:Spotakova enjoyed a peak from late 2006 to 2008, winning five consecutive gold medals, including the 2008 Beijing gold. Her fine form continued as she set the world record en route to winning the World Athletics title in Germany, but has since experienced a dip in form.
Record Holder:Yelena Isinbayeva, Russia
Set:August 28th, 2009 in Zurich, Switzerland
How:Isinbayeva is widely considered to be the greatest pole vaulter in history, and for good reason;
she first won her first gold in 1999 and has been on a tear since, picking up dozens of other medals and is looking to become a back-to-back-to-back gold medalist in the Olympic games. Ten days after setting the world and Olympic record in 2008, she topped her own record again. If history shows us anything, it's that Isinbayeva is not satisfied and will be looking to break more (of her own) records.
Brian has been a lifelong fan of the Summer Olympics and enjoys a wide variety of events. Follow him on Twitter: @TweetBrianNoah.
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