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Top 10 Greatest Sprinters of all time11 min read

greatest male sprinters of all time- usain bolt in yellow jamaican jersey

Sprinting is the most difficult track and field event in the Olympics. We have seen some great runners in the history of the game. Here we will talk about the greatest male sprinters of all time.

These athletes run could make you awestruck. They have made their name into the history books with their insane sprinting and become the legends of the sport. 

Let’s check this ultimate guide to reveal the top 10 greatest male sprinters of all time in terms of medals, timing, and all-time world records.

10 Justin Gatlin

Justin Gatlin is one of the best American sprinters of all time. He’s one of the path-breaking achievements is when he clocked 9.85-second in the 2004 Olympic game to win the 100 m event. He also won silver in the relay and bronze in 200m in the same Olympics.

However, just after 2 years, Gatlin’s career got stuck with a four-year ban in 2006. Gatlin tested positive for a banned substance. Gatlin began competing again in August 2010. In May 2015 at the IAAF Doha Diamond League, Gatlin broke his own 100m record becoming the only athlete age more than 30 to clock 9.74 seconds. He became the fastest athlete in his thirties for a 100 m event. Gatlin got silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics to become the oldest man to achieve an Olympic medal in a non-relay sprint event. Justin Gatlin can reach an insane speed of 28 mph. He is number 10 on our list of greatest sprinters of all time.

  • Olympic gold and 3 World Championship golds
  • 60m: 6.45-currently 5th all time   (Boston 2005)
  • 100m: 9.74-currently 5th all time   (London 2012)
  • 200m: 19.57   (Starkville 2002)

9 Donovan Bailey

He is known as the greatest Canadian sprinter of all-time. His moment of life came when he clocked a time of 9.84 seconds to claim the gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games. He was the first Canadian sprinter to be recorded under 10-second  in the 100 m. He is the most popular athlete well known for his top speed. This record stood strong for almost 12 years and then came Usain Bolt in the 2008 Beijing Games and broke the record.

The interesting fact about this athlete he even overcame the best sprinter of all time Michael Johnson in a 150m race in 1997. Donovan Bailey was so strong, he injured Michael Johnson’s motivation. For his great contribution to the sport, Bailey has been inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.

8 Yohan Blake

Yohan Blake is the second fastest man ever in both 100 m and 200 m after Usain Bolt. He became the youngest athlete to be a world champion in the 100m event at the 2011 World Championships. Blake also got his hand on a silver medal in the 2012 Olympic Games in London in the 100 m and 200 m races.

Yohan Blake has said to be the next Usain Bolt. His personal best for the 200 m (19.26 seconds) is the second-fastest time ever after the great sprinter Usain Bolt (19.19 seconds). It has to be noticed that his reaction time on that particular race was relatively slow (0.269 s), with an average start. If he could have done it better he would have set a new world record Four years later in Rio. So If Bolt never existed Blake would be the fastest man of all time. Blake is number 8 on our list of greatest sprinters of all time.

  • 1 Olympic gold (2 silvers) and 2 World Championship golds
  • 60 m: 6.75   (New York 2008)
  • 100 m: 9.69- currently 2nd all time   (Kingston 2012)
  • 200 m: 19.26- currently 2nd all time   (Brussels 2011)
  • 4 x 100 m relay: 36.84-current world record (London 2012)

7 Asafa Powell

Asafa Powell is one of the breakthrough performers and the athlete who is well known to set the foundation of Jamaican in the greatest stage of the world. He set the world record twice in 100 meters between June 2005 and May 2008 with speed recorded of 9.77 and 9.74 seconds respectively. His personal best timing in 100m in 9.72 seconds. Powell also holds an interesting record of consistently broken the 10-second barrier in the history of the sport(97 times).

His first medal in 4 x 100 meters relay in Beijing Games had to be surrendered due to his partner Nesta carter failed in a drug test. Later At the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, he won a gold medal in the same event i.e 4 x 100 meters relay.

  •  1 Olympic gold and 2 World Championship golds
  • 100 m: 9.72-currently 3rd all time   (Lausanne 2008)
  • 200 m: 19.90   (Kingston 2006)
  • 400 m: 45.94   (Sydney 2009)

6 Maurice Greene

Maurice Greene is an American former track and field sprinter who broke the 100m world record in 1999. He became the first athlete in the world to clock timing of fewer than 9.8 seconds. Maurice is a former 100 m world record holder with a time of 9.79 seconds which is completely unbreakable at that time.

Maurice was also crowned as the world champion thrice in his career in 1997, 1999, and 2001 in the 100m event. Greene was equally thriving indoors – he was the 1999 Indoor World Champion, holding the world record in 60m dashes for nearly 20 years. He also remains the joint-fastest sprinter in 50 meters event. After getting an injury in 2005 he unable to make a comeback and officially retired in 2008. He changed the sprinting style. He is number 6 in our list of greatest sprinters of all time.

  • 2 Olympic golds and 5 World Championship golds
  • 60 m: 6.39-current world record   (Madrid 1998 and Atlanta 2001)
  • 100 m: 9.79   (Athens 1999)
  • 200 m: 19.86   (Stockholm 1997)

5 Tyson gay

Tyson Gay is widely referred to as one of the best sprinters of his time. His 100 m personal best of 9.69 is the second fastest along with Yohan Blake and just behind Usain Bolt world record of 9.58.

Gay has won various medals in global major international competitions. He had won a gold medal in 100 m, 200 m, and 4 × 100 m relay at the 2007 Osaka World Championships. Gay equaled the feat of Maurice Greene, becoming the second man to win all three events at the same World Championships.

Another unprecedented record that Gay holds is that he is the only sprinter to record timing of 100 meters in under 10 seconds, the 200 meters in under 20 seconds, and the 400 meters in under 45 seconds. He is also the only man to ever beat bolt in a final.

  • 1 Olympic silver and 3 World Championship golds
  • 100 m: 9.69-currently 2nd all time  (Shanghai 2009)
  • 200 m: 19.58- currently 5th all time (New York 2009)
  • 400 m: 44.89   (Gainesville 2010)

4 Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson needs no introduction. He is one of the most consistent and admirable track and field athletes of all time. Johnson formerly held the world record in 200 m which was later broken by Usain Bolt. He also the former record holder in 400 m which was broken after 17 years in Rio Olympics 2016 by Van Niekerk.

Johnson is the only male athlete to won both the 200m and 400m at the same Olympic Games held in Atlanta. He is first sprinter to defend his 400m title in the 2000 summer Olympics in Sydney. Johnson Still holds 12/20 best times ever in the 400m event.

Johnson was just way ahead of anyone else, his shocking leaning back style still amazes a lot of fans around the world. Bolt clearly has a huge physical stature but Johnson’s secret was and still remains amazingly a total mystery. Johnson is on number 4 in our list of greatest sprinters of all time.

  • 4 Olympic golds and 8 World Championship golds
  • 100 m: 10.09   (Knoxville 1994)
  • 200 m: 19.32-currently 3rd all time   (Atlanta 1996)
  • 400 m: 43.18-currently 2nd all time   (Sevilla 1999)

3 Jesse Owens

greatest sprinters of all time

Jesse Owens without a doubt one of the greatest athletes of all time. He was the most talked-about athlete of all time. He won four gold medals in the 1936 Olympic Games. Despite having odd tracks, no proper training facilities, and lack of equipment, Owens ran the 100m in 10.3 seconds and the 200m in 20.7 seconds which is completely astonishing.

What he achieved at a time with very limited track technology and training is exceptional. If he had an advanced training and dieting program, he could probably be a contender in the world’s first heat. If Jesse Owens competed today with the modern athletes, He would be the star in this era as well.

Owen’s achievement in the 1936 Olympics is the single most inclusive event in Olympic History.

  • 3 Olympic golds
  • 100 m: 10.2   (Berlin 1936)
  • 200 m: 21.1   (Berlin 1936)

2 Carl Lewis

greatest sprinters of all time

Carl Lewis is known as the best track and field athlete of all time. He won nine Olympic gold medals, and one Olympic silver medal. Carl Lewis not only held world records in 100 metres, 200 metres and 4×100 metres relay but he also a world record holder in the long jump. He is one of only three Olympic athletes in the world who won a gold medal in the same individual event in four consecutive Olympic Games.

He held the world records in the major events including 100 m, 4 × 100 m, and 4 × 200 m relays. The interesting fact is that he also had a world record in the indoor long jump which was still unbroken since 1984. He had completely outperformed everyone in the long jump. He had won 65 consecutive long jump events over a span of 10 years. This is one of the sport’s greatest and undefeated streaks of all time. He was named as ‘World Athlete of the Century’, ‘Sportsman of the Century’ by various sports organizations.

Carl Lewis will be remembered as one of the most dominant athlete in track & field in Olympic history.

  • 6 Olympic golds and 6 World Championship golds
  • 100 m: 9.86   (Tokyo 1991)
  • 200 m: 19.75   (TAC/Mobile Championships 1983)
  • 4 x 100 m relay: 37.40   (Barcelona 1992)

1 Usain Bolt

greatest sprinters of all time

Usain Bolt is a Jamaican former sprinter, widely considered to be the greatest sprinter of all time. He currently holds the world record in the 100 metres, 200 metres and 4 × 100 metres relay. Bolt is the only sprinter in the world to win 100 m and 200 m titles in three editions of Olympics (2008, 2012 and 2016). He also claimed two gold medals in 4 × 100 relays.

Bolt can be said the greatest of all time in the history of the sport. Bolt is the most impressive athlete winning four World Championship titles in the 200 m and is one of the most impactful sprinters in the 100 m with three titles.

Bolt’s broken the 100m world record twice and the world record now stands at 9.58s. He has also broken the 200 m world record which was previously named after Michael Johnson that now stands to 19.19s to Bolt. His accomplishments as a sprinter have acquired him the nickname “Lightning Bolt”

  • 8 Olympic golds and 11 World Championship golds
  • 100 m: 9.58-current world record    (Berlin 2009)
  • 200 m: 19.19-current world record   (Berlin 2009)
  • 400 m: 45.28    (Kingston 2007)
  • 4 x 100 m relay: 36.84-current world record (London 2012)
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