Olympic Records that are also World Records

Ahead of the Tokyo 2020, here's a look at the Olympic records that are also the world records in their respective disciplines.

Published : Jul 16, 2021 02:10 IST

The record books have been shuffled endlessly throughout the 29 Olympic Games in history, however, a few performances remain as the benchmark for others to surpass.
The record books have been shuffled endlessly throughout the 29 Olympic Games in history, however, a few performances remain as the benchmark for others to surpass.

The record books have been shuffled endlessly throughout the 29 Olympic Games in history, however, a few performances remain as the benchmark for others to surpass.

The Olympic Games has witnessed a few athletes unleash their absolute best under overwhelming environments of the premier stage. 

The record books have been shuffled endlessly throughout the 29 Olympic editions in history, however, a few performances have stood the test of time to remain benchmarks for others to surpass.

Ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Games, here's a look at the Olympic records that are also the world records in their respective disciplines:


400 metres - Wayde van Niekerk (South Africa)

World and Olympic record:  43.03  on August 14, 2016 - Rio Olympics

South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk broke a 20-year-old record in the 400-metres final at the 2016 Rio Games. Van Niekerk went past USA sprint legend Michael Johnson’s Olympic record time of 43.18s set at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Incidentally, the South African’s time of 43.08s also bettered the existing world record of 43.18s set by Johnson in 1999.

The 2016 season also witnessed Wayde van Niekerk become the first sprinter in history to clock 100 metres under 10 seconds, 200 metres under 20 seconds, and 400 metres under 44 seconds.

800 metres - David Rudisha (Kenya)

World and Olympic record: 1:40.91 on August 9, 2012 - London Olympics

Kenya’s David Rudisha entered the 2012 London Olympics as the world record holder in the 800-metres, having clocked 1:41.01 in 2010. Rudisha’s stunning performance in the 800m final saw him eclipse the 1:41:00 barrier in the event with a time of  1:40.91  to strike gold and remain as the only person ever to achieve the mark in history. 

400 metres hurdles - Kevin Young (USA)

World and Olympic record: 46.78 on August 6, 1992 - Barcelona Olympics

In the 400m hurdles final in the ‘92 Barcelona Games, Kevin Young stormed into the record books by a considerable margin. Young’s final mark of  46.78  broke the existing World (47.02 by Edwin Moses - USA in 1983) and Olympic (47.19 by Andre Phillips - USA in 1988) records and continues to stand as the benchmark in the 21st century.

Kevin Young of United States (left) crosses the hurdle on his way to win the men's 400 metres hurdles gold with a new World Record in the Barcelona Olympics on August 6, 1992. He is followed by Winthrop Graham of Jamaica to win the silver medal in the event.

4*100 m relay - Jamaican Relay team

World and Olympic record:  36.84  on August 11, 2012 - London Olympics

The Jamaican quartet of  Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, Yohan Blake and Usain Bolt  breathed fire at the 4*100m relay final in the 2012 London Games. The team set the Olympic record for the event with a time of  36.84 , going past a 20-year-old record set by the USA relay team in the 1992 Olympics. The Jamaicans also went past their own world record (37.04) set by the same team in 2011.


200 metres - Florence Griffith Joyner (USA)

World and Olympic record:  21.34  on September 29, 1988 - Seoul Olympics

Hailed as the fastest woman ever, Griffith-Joyner set the records ablaze at the 1988 Seoul Olympics where she won three gold medals. Her performance in the 200 m sprint saw her rewrite the Olympics records thrice in two days from the quarterfinal to the final, raising the bar 0.42s on her way to the gold. Her mark of 21.34   broke the World (21.79 by Marita Koch - GDR in 1979) and Olympic (21.81 by Valerie Brisco-Hooks - USA in 1984) by a considerable margin.

Florence Griffith Joyner set the Olympic records for both, the 100m and 200m sprints at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

10,000 metres - Almaz Ayana (Ethiopia)

World and Olympic record: 29:17.45 on August 12, 2016 - Rio Olympics

Ethiopia’s Ayana broke a long-standing world record (29:31.78 by Wang Junxia - China in 1993) in the event with a scorching run at the 2016 Rio Games. Ayana’s final mark of  29:17.45  which led her to gold broke the Olympic record set by fellow Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba (29:54.66) in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. 

4*100 m relay - USA Relay team

World and Olympic record: 40.82 on August 10, 2012 - London Olympics

USA’s relay team comprising Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight and Carmelita Jeter , broke the Olympic 4*100m relay record in the 2012 London Olympics. Their mark of 40.82s - the only sub-41s time in history - broke the existing Olympic (41.60 by East Germany in 1980) and World (41.37 by East Germany in 1985) records by a fair margin.

4*400 m relay - Soviet Union Relay team 

World and Olympic record: 3:15.17 on October 1, 1988 - Seoul Olympics

The Soviet relay team of  Tatyana Ledovskaya, Olga Nazarova, Mariya Pinigina, and Olga Bryzgina  continues to stand atop the record books - 33 years after a record performance in the 1988 Seoul Games. The star quartet broke the Olympic (3:18.29 by East Germany in 1984) and World (3:15.92 by East Germany in 1984) records.

Heptathlon - Jackie Joyner-Kersee (USA)   

World and Olympic record: 7291 points  on September 24, 1988 - Seoul Olympics

A 26-year-old Jackie Joyner-Kersee smashed her own world record set in June 1988 at the year’s Seoul Olympics in the heptathlon. Joyner-Kersee’s spell-binding display strode her to  7291 points  - better than her world record of 7215 and miles ahead of the-then Olympic record of 6390 points set by Australia’s Glynis Nunn in 1984.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee's Heptathlon point tally of 7291 continues as the world benchmark since the 1988 Olympics.


1500 m freestyle - Sun Yang (China)

World and Olympic record: 14:31.02  on August 4, 2012 - London Olympics

With a sizzling swim in the 1500m freestyle, China’s Sun Yang rose to gold by breaking his own world record. Sun Yang eclipsed his previous mark with a time of  14:31.02  which also went past the Olympic record time of 14:38.92 by Australia’s Grant Hackett in the 2008 Games.

100m backstroke - Ryan Murphy (USA)

World and Olympic record: 51.85  on August 13, 2016 - Rio Olympics

In the 4*100m medley relay where Michael Phelps led the USA to gold in his final Olympic event, Ryan Murphy broke the world record in the backstroke lead-off leg. Murphy’s mark of  51.85  broke the World (51.94 in 2009) and Olympic (52.54 in 2008) records set by USA’s Aaron Peirsol while his team comprising  Michael Phelps, Cody Miller and Nathan Adrian  won the gold in 3:27.95 - an Olympic record.

Michael Phelps won a total of eight Olympic golds in the 2008 Olympics - an unprecedented feat.

400 m individual medley - Michael Phelps (USA)

World and Olympic record: 4:03.84  on August 10, 2008 - Beijing Olympics

Michael Phelps’ record-breaking spree at the Beijing Olympics also created a record time in the 400m individual medley that remains unbroken to date. The  4:03.84  mark in the event helped Phelps retain gold from the 2004 Athens - breaking his twin Olympic and World record times in the process.

4×100 m freestyle relay - USA team 

World and Olympic record: 3:08.24  on August 11, 2008 - Beijing Olympics

The American freestyle relay team comprising  Michael Phelps (47.51), Garrett Weber-Gale (47.02), Cullen Jones (47.65) and Jason Lezak (46.06)  stormed to the Olympic gold in Beijing, twice breaking the World and Olympic record in two days. Their stunning time of  3:08.24  in the final broke the Olympic (3:13.17 by South Africa in 2004) and World (3:12.46 by USA in 2006) records in a breeze.


400 m freestyle - Katie Ledecky (USA)

World and Olympic record: 3:56.46  on August 7, 2016- Rio Olympics

USA’s Katie Ledecky cruised to gold in the 400m freestyle at the Rio Olympics in a vibrant display that smashed multiple records. Ledecky’s  3:56.46  mark broke her own World record (3:58.37 in 2014) while replacing the Olympic record time of 4:01.45 set by Camille Muffat in 2012.

800 m freestyle - Katie Ledecky (USA)

World and Olympic record: 8:04.79  on August 12, 2016- Rio Olympics

Five days after a record-breaking performance in the 400m freestyle, Ledecky doubled up with a splendid display in the 800m to retain her Olympic gold. Ledecky sailed past her own World record (8:06.68 in January 2016) while also dashing the existing Olympic record (8:14.10 by Rebecca Adlington in 2008) by a fair margin.

USA's Katie Ledecky is currently the only person to hold two Olympic and World records at the same time.

100 m butterfly - Sarah Sjostrom (Sweden)

World and Olympic record: 55.48  on August 7, 2016- Rio Olympics

Sarah Sjostrom waltzed past her 100m butterfly record set in 2015 to record Sweden’s first Olympic gold in swimming at the 2016 Rio Games. Sjostrom’s riveting performance with a time of 55.48, went past the Olympic record (55.98) set by USA’s Dana Vollmer in 2008.

400 m individual medley - Katinka Hosszu (Hungary)

World and Olympic record: 4:26.36  on August 6, 2016- Rio Olympics

"Iron Lady" Hosszu’s first Olympics gold came in the 2016 Rio Games 400m individual medley with an unprecedented mark. The Hungarian’s time of 4.26.36 went past the Olympic and World record time (4:28.43) set by China’s Ye Shiwen in the 2012 London Olympics where Hosszu narrowly slipped off the podium.


Men’s team - 216 point ranking event - South Korea

World and Olympic record: 2087  on 27 July 2012 - London Olympics

South Korean trio  Im Dong-Hyun, Kim Bub-min, Oh Jin-hyek  continue to hold the only co-existing Olympic and World record in Archery. The team set a record of  2087  points in the 216 arrow ranking event at the 2012 London Games going past their own previous World record of 2069 set in May 2012. They also broke the Olympic world record set by another South Korean pair - 2031 by Jang Yong-Ho, Kim Bo-Ram, Oh Kyo-Moon in 1996. 

72 arrow ranking round - Kim Woo-jin (South Korea)

World and Olympic record: 700  on 5 August 2016 - Rio Olympics

South Korea’s Kim Woo-jin broke his fellow countryman  Im Dong-Hyun's World and Olympic record (699) set in the 2012 London Games. Woo-jin finished strong with a total of 700 points in the 72 arrow ranking event at the Rio Games in 2016.


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide to our community guidelines for posting your comment