Women's Track World Records

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There are always records to be broken. In the case of women's track, the majority of the world records have been around for quite some time.

Here are the numbers to beat, as recorded by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF):


World Record Holder: Florence Griffith-Joyner, United States

Set: 1988, U.S. Olympic Trials, Indianapolis

Mark: 10.49

How it Happened: "Flo-Jo" made it clear she was in a different league than the rest of the competition at the trials. She followed up her record-setting showing with a gold medal in the event at the 1988 Olympics. Nearly 25 years later, her astonishingly quick time still stands.


World Record Holder: Florence Griffith-Joyner, United States

Set: 1988, Olympic Games, Seoul

Mark: 21.34

How it Happened: In one of the most dominant Olympic performances ever by a sprinter, "Flo-Jo" claimed three gold medals in Seoul. The highlight was her world record in the 200 meters. She added victories in the 100m and 4x100m relay, and tacked on a silver medal in the 4x400. For those keeping score, that's more medals than Usain Bolt won in Beijing.


World Record Holder: Marita Koch, East Germany

Set: 1985, IAAF World Cup, Canberra, Australia

Mark: 47.60

How it Happened: The incredible lap Koch ran in Australia has withstood the test of time, remaining untouchable to this point. Her speed in shorter sprints helped her improve in the 400.


World Record Holder: Jarmila Kratochvilova, Czechoslovakia

Set: 1983, Grand Prix, Munich

Mark: 1:53.28

How it Happened: A former world record holder at 400m, the Czechoslovakian was not thought of as an 800m runner. That changed quickly following her surprising run in Munich.


World Record Holder: Qu Yunxia, China

Set: 1993, China National Games, Beijing

Mark: 3:50.46

How it Happened: At 21 years old, Qu sliced over two seconds off the previous record, which had been the standard since 1980. As with several of the long-standing women's track records, Qu's mark has raised suspicions of doping, but those have never been proven.

One Mile

World Record Holder: Svetlana Masterkova, Russia

Set: 1996, Weltklasse Grand Prix, Zurich, Switzerland

Mark: 4:12.56

How it Happened: It was the first official mile race she ran, and Masterkova ran it faster than any woman before her. She set a blistering early pace and never let up.


World Record Holder: Wang Junxia, China

Set: 1993, Chinese National Games, Beijing

Mark: 8:06.11

How it Happened: Not satisfied with one record, Wang amazingly set the 3,000 world record on consecutive days. The first time--8:12.29--was in the preliminaries, followed by an even more spectacular effort in the final the next day.

3,000m Steeplechase

World Record Holder: Gulnara Galkina, Russia

Set: 2008, Olympic Games, Beijing

Mark: 8:58.81

How it Happened: Galkina jumped out to the lead right from the start and never looked back. She delivered an excellent display of endurance and confidence on sport's greatest stage.


World Record Holder: Tirunesh Dibaba, Ethiopia

Set: 2008, Exxon Mobil Bislett Games, Oslo, Norway

Mark: 14:11.15

How it Happened: On this day, more than five seconds were removed from the 5,000m world record. Afterward, Dibaba said her time could have been even quicker.


World Record Holder: Wang Junxia, China

Set: 1993, Chinese National Games, Beijing

Mark: 29:31.78

How it Happened: Remember her? The owner of the top all-time 3,000m mark cut nearly 42 seconds off the previous 10,000m record, just days before her pair of world records in the 3,000.

100m Hurdles

World Record Holder: Yordanka Donkova, Bulgaria

Set: 1988, Stara Zagora, Bulgaria

Mark: 12.21

How it Happened: Donkova was quite a force in the event, winning gold at the Seoul Olympics. Her 100m hurdle world record came earlier that year at an otherwise low-key meet.

400m Hurdles

World Record Holder: Yuliya Pechenkina, Russia

Set: 2003, Russian National Championships, Tula, Russia

Mark: 52.34

How it Happened: A heart condition eventually slowed down the Russian's career, but not before she set the standard in the 400 hurdles. Before Pechenkina claimed the record, American Kim Batten had it for eight years.

4x100m Relay

World Record Holder: East Germany

Set: 1985, IAAF World Cup, Canberra, Australia

Mark: 41.37

How it Happened: At the same meet where East German star Marita Koch broke the 400m record, the country's women's 4x100 squad put together a record performance of their own, lowering their previous mark of 41.53.

4x400m Relay

World Record Holder: USSR

Set: 1988, Olympic Games, Seoul

Mark: 3:15.17

How it Happened: The group from the USSR not only prevented Team USA anchor Florence Griffith-Joyner from winning her fourth gold medal of the Games, they also set a world record in the process. Olympic 400m champion Olga Bryzgina closed it out for the Soviets.

Aaron Griggs is amazed by the times athletes have produced on the track, and sometimes wonders how much faster runners can possibly get.

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