OLYMPIC TRACK & FIELD ATHLETICS
by Bill Mallon, MD
At the bottom of this page you will find 5 links that lead you to an exhaustive list of various records that have been set at the Olympic Games in track & field athletics.
The lists do include the 1906 Olympics, which the IOC does not recognize—but most Olympic historians do—but all marks set including the 1906 Olympics are marked in red. In cases where the athletes would still be included in the lists even without their 1906 Olympic medals, those athletes are listed twice – in red including their 1906 marks, and in black without them (the Ray Ewry-Martin Sheridan rule).
The length of the lists is variable. Given the ease of running queries on databases, they could be much longer, in all cases. As a basic guideline, I have cut off the lists at about 50 occurrences, and have also not listed medal records in any list for only 1 medal won.
The 1912 decathlon and pentathlon results are listed as they actually occurred, with Jim Thorpe winning gold in both events, and the second and third places listed as they occurred, and crediting those athletes with silver and bronze medals (see below under Medals by Nations).
There is still controversy concerning the results of the men’s and women’s relays for the 2000 and 2004 Olympics because of drug disqualifications. Work on this has been done with Mark Butler, who assists the IAAF, but the IOC does not appear to have ruled definitively in terms of how the medals should be re-allocated, if in fact they are to be at all.
Age competitor records are given for the athletes, and the date of the event, is the date of the first day of any event. For competitor age marks, I have not tried to determine cases in which the athlete competed on a later date, that database query gets quite complex. The age medalist and gold medalist records, however, are taken to the final day of the event, on which the athlete actually won the medal. Thus there can be minor differences for ages – witness Bob Mathias in 1948, who competed at age 17-261, but won his medal at age 17-262.
All age marks are given as “years-days”, which is more accurate than listing months, which can have a variable number of days.
For the rare cases in which we do not know a full date of birth for the athlete, usually only knowing the year, I have used a worst-case scenario, i.e., for youngest records, the athlete are assumed to be born on 1 January of the year of birth, and for oldest records, they are assumed to be born on 31 December of the year of birth.
For the Olympic record progressions, please note that the IOC does not recognize marks for Olympic records set in preliminary rounds, and recognizes only one mark in any event from any Olympic Games as a record. This policy is, obviously, not shared by the ATFS or athletics statisticians.
The data herein comes from our Olympic database of complete results of all sports, all events, all years, and all events. This is a group effort, with our group being called the OlyMADMen, for somewhat obvious reasons. We now have about 12 people assisting us on this project, with the original founders being myself, Jeroen Heijmans (NED), and Arild Gjerde (NOR).
This can be found at our public site at www.sports-reference.com/olympics, or at our private site, www.olympedia.org. If you would like access to our private site for reference, you may contact me. Please also contact me for any errors or omissions found, please keeping in mind the above caveats about the 1906 Olympics, the 1912 multi-events, and the relay problems in 2000-04.
To keep document size manageable (there being a total of 216pp of data here), we have broken the presentation into 5 parts:
• Medal Records
(most medals, most golds, most silvers, etc)
• Age, Appearance & Special Records
(youngest & oldest competitors, medalists, etc.)
• Medals By Nation & Records by Olympics
(total, and broken out by year)
• Medals By Event
(broken out by nation and individually)
• Olympic Record Progressions
(starting with heat 1 from Athens 1896)