New World and Olympic records in Track and Field at Tokyo 2020 | Sunday Observer

New World and Olympic records in Track and Field at Tokyo 2020

22 August, 2021
Olympic record for Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway in 1500m
Olympic record for Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway in 1500m

The ‘Track and Field’ or ‘Athletics’ considered to be the ‘Mother of all Sports’ was the largest single sport with 48 events at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games. A record 83 countries reached finals, climaxing the global reach of the sport. The tally of 43 countries on the medal table, with 23 winning gold is the biggest in the millennium, underlining the diversity and depth of talent in the sport.

The athletics competition produced 3 world, 12 Olympic, 28 area and 151 national records and the author highlights the most notable records by the Olympians. Fourteen athletes under the age of 23 won medals, six of them gold, to underline the exceptional talent coming through the sport. At Tokyo 2020 athletes made the most of the opportunity under challenging circumstances and the World Athletics President Sebastian Coe hailed Japan and the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee for providing the best possible platform for the sport’s stars to shine.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games was also the highest quality major sporting extravaganza in history, as per the rankings. Surely, the Tokyo 2020 allowed the dreams of the world’s athletes to come to life. Athletics was held during the last ten days, from July 30 to August 8, 2021. The mixed 4x400m relay was added as a new event into the program. The strength in women’s events was apparent with 55 per cent of the national records being set.

For 12 countries of the IOC – Bahamas, Bahrain, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Grenada, Jamaica, Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, Puerto Rico and Uganda – athletics was their pathway to the Olympic podium. Meanwhile, one of the most heart-warming moments came in the men’s high jump when Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi, friends and rivals who battled the same career-threatening injury to make it to Tokyo, decided to share the gold.

For the first time, World Athletics also provided a second screen experience - Inside Track Tokyo 2020 - which enabled fans to join celebrities, experts and families online as they shared their reactions live while following the excitement of the Games. All of these moments helped to engage and inspire fans around the globe.

The Supremacy of the United States

The American athletes have won a total of 828 medals (342 of them gold) at the Summer Olympic Games, making the US the most prolific medal-winning nation in the history of the Olympics, despite being the only team in the world to receive no government funding. The US team topped the medals table at Tokyo 2020 with 26 medals – 7 gold, 12 silver and 7 bronze.

Allyson Felix, 35, of the US became the most decorated female track and field athlete in Olympic history with 11 medals, after winning gold in the 4x400m relay and bronze in the individual 400m. Felix, who has attended five consecutive Olympic Games, has seven gold medals to her name. The triple jump ace Hugues Fabrice Zango, claimed bronze and made Burkina Faso the 100th nation to join the Olympic athletics all-time medal list.

While the platform was set for many record-breaking performances, the Tokyo 2020 Games will also be remembered for its surprise results, close contests, next generation breakthroughs and moments of fair play. Among the new stars who shone on the global stage were two teenagers, Athing Mu of the United States and Keely Hodgkinson of Great Britain, who claimed gold and silver in the women’s 800m at the age of just 19.

World Record in Women’s Triple Jump

Yulimar Rojas, 25, made history in the women’s triple jump, sailing out to a world record of 15.67m on August 1, 2021 to secure Venezuela’s first ever Olympic gold medal in athletics. Rojas, jumping second in the starting order, bounded out to 15.41m with her opening leap to add two centimeters to the Olympic record. She struggled with her next two attempts, clearing 14.53m in round two and producing a foul in round three. Later, Rojas closed out the round with a leap of 15.25m.

By the time Rojas lined up for her final effort, and having recorded another foul in round five, her victory was guaranteed. With the pressure off and nothing to lose, Rojas nailed her final effort and broke the sand at 15.67m, adding 17 centimeters to the previous world record set in 1995 by Ukraine’s Inessa Kravets.

“I am lost for words; I can’t describe this feeling and this moment,” said Rojas, whose phases on her record-breaking jump were 5.86m, 3.82m and 5.99m. “Gold medal winner, with an Olympic record, and a world record ... Wow. It is a fantastic night.”

“I was looking for it, I knew I had that distance in my legs today,” she added. “I was failing a bit in the technical aspect, but the last jump was one to give everything, and it was like that. “I was focused on giving my best, enjoying myself, and it came out. It makes me happy. I have to enjoy it now, and live the experience.”

World records in men’s 400m Hurdles

It was 24 hours that shook up the athletics world. For decades, they’ll talk of Olympic 400m hurdles finals men and women as events that changed everything we thought we knew about the limits of human performance.

First there was the men’s race and that magnificent, mind-altering moment when Karsten Warholm, 25, crossed the finish line and the digits on the clock, read 45.95 on August 3, 2021. His time was 0.76 seconds faster than anyone had ever run, and 0.84 faster than anyone not named Warholm. Not so much one small step for man as one giant leap towards a new era in the event they call the man-killer.

With his pair of world records this summer, Warholm has hacked 0.88 from the record held by Kevin Young since 1992, a reduction of 1.79%. Warholm was asked shortly after his race whether he’d just been part of the greatest race in history. “Your words, not mine,” he said. “But I think it’s up there. I hope it will be. Listening over the past couple of days, it was clear we are living through the definitive golden era of the 400m hurdles.”

World record in women’s 400m Hurdles

The adrenaline had barely stopped flowing for athletics fans when Sydney McLaughlin, 21, led them home in 51.46 in 400m hurdles on August 4, 2021, 0.44 quicker than the world record, and 0.70 quicker than anyone not named McLaughlin had ever run.

McLaughlin explained to journalists what it meant to have helped her event progress with such a quantum leap. “It’s not one of the hot events people would usually watch,” she said. “But it’s definitely been made something interesting. Every time we step on the track, there’s some record being broken and it’s exciting to be a part of that and push the boundaries.”

McLaughlin, world record-holder since the US Olympic Trials in June where she smashed through the 52-second barrier for women in this event (51.90), was forced to run almost half a second faster to defeat Muhammad, the world champion and defending Olympic champion. Muhammad was still recovering after contracting Covid-19 earlier in the year and was not at her best. But she has made remarkable progress in the past six weeks to rise to a new standard.

In the final, McLaughlin made her move coming off the seventh hurdle but slightly mistimed her stride pattern to the eighth hurdle, which curtailed her momentum temporarily. However, she put herself back on course over the ninth and then attacked at the 10th, coming over the barrier full of running to take the gold medal.

Olympic record in women’s 100m

The build-up to the women’s 100m final had an epic Shakespearean quality about it as the 2016 Olympic gold medalist Elaine Thompson-Herah, 29, and the 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, 34, prepared to duel for the title. Between them, the two Jamaicans have dominated the women’s sprints for more than a decade.

When it came to the final Thompson-Herah unleashed the best race of her life. For a moment mid-race, the two Jamaicans were locked together but then Thompson-Herah began to ease away from her rival, establishing a metre lead with 10m to run, at which point she raised her arm and pointed to the clock. That too was worth watching. She stopped it in 10.61, establishing an Olympic record on July 31, 2021.

“I am really excited to come back and retain my title. My chest hurts, I am so happy,” Thompson-Herah said. “I could have gone faster if I wasn’t pointing and celebrating early. But that shows there is more in store so hopefully one day I can unleash that time.”

Olympic record in women’s 100m Hurdles

Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, 24, cruised to victory in the 100m hurdles in Tokyo 2020, stopping the clock at 12.37 to secure Puerto Rico’s first Olympic gold medal in athletics. Camacho-Quinn had impressed in the earlier rounds, winning her heat in 12.41 and her semifinal in 12.26, breaking the Olympic record. Aside from one DQ for Camacho-Quinn earlier in the season, she arrived in Tokyo undefeated this year, setting the scene for a mouth-watering showdown.

In the finals, Camacho-Quinn soon got into her rhythm and started to edge others. She was away and clear, but clipped the ninth barrier and for the briefest of moments it appeared as though history may repeat itself. It would take more than that to quell Camacho-Quinn’s determination, though. She safely negotiated the final hurdle before crossing the line recording the second-fastest title-winning time in Olympic history.

“Everything happens for a reason and I came through with the gold,” said an emotional Camacho-Quinn. “My first gold medal! “Puerto Rico is such a small country but this will give little kids hope, and I’m glad I’m the person who does that. “This year had its ups and downs. My coach came all the way from Ireland to coach me, so I really do appreciate that. It’s been a rollercoaster since I became professional. “

Olympic record in men’s Shot Put

Defending champion Ryan Crouser, 28, launched his shot out to 22.05m in the qualifying round of the shot put, recording the best qualifying round throw ever at an Olympic Games. In 2016, Ryan Crouser burst on to the international stage in Rio, clinching gold with an Olympic record of 22.52m.

Crouser headed to Tokyo 2020 as the world record-holder, having broken the long-standing mark with his 23.37m effort at the US Olympic Trials. Track events are neatly compartmentalized: warm-up, check-in, start the race. There exists little time during an event to ponder, to analyze, with eyes directed down the track. In field events, however, there are hours for athletes to contemplate their fate, each round representing an opportunity for a competitor to respond.

Crouser successfully defended his Olympic title in Tokyo 2020 with 23.30m, joining USA’s Parry O’Brien (1952 and 1956) and Poland’s Tomasz Majewski (2008 and 2012) as the only men to win back-to-back gold medals in the event.

Olympic record in women’s 1500m

Faith Kipyegon, 27, ran the fastest women’s 1500m ever seen in the Olympic arena to retain the title she first won in Rio 2016. She is the first athlete to win back-to-back Olympic 1500m titles since Sebastian Coe in 1980-84. Kipyegon, the Olympic champion in 2016 and world champion in 2017, had her daughter Alyn in 2018.

She returned to training just eight months before the World Championships in Doha in 2019. Kipyegon had clearly found an extra gear leading into the Olympic Games. The Kenyan, who trains in coach Patrick Sang’s camp sprinted away to claim victory in an Olympic record of 3:53.11 on August 6, 2021.

She said she was more motivated by thoughts of her daughter than of making history. “Once I crossed the finish line, it was a very emotional moment for me,” she said. “I thought about my daughter who I left behind at home. She wanted me to bring home a gold medal, and I am so happy and excited I did that.”

Olympic record in men’s 1500m

Jakob Ingebrigtsen, 20, capped his stunning rise from precocious talent to global middle-distance superstar with a powerful victory in the 1500m. Yet again, the Norwegian illustrated poise, speed and confidence beyond his years with a virtuoso performance in the highest quality 1500m championship race in history that culminated in a 3:28.32 Olympic record on August 7, 2021.

Ingebrigtsen took command just 200m into the race to bring the field through the first lap in 56.4. He was never farther than a metre back, simply waiting for his time to pounce. That came just beyond the midway point of the final turn, when Ingebrigtsen shifted into a gear never witnessed on the final lap of a race. Ingebrigsten glanced to his side briefly as he powered down the homestretch. With victory secure, he raised his arms into the air just before he reached the line.

“This is what you want as a professional runner,” Ingebrigtsen said. “I’ve been able to do it on my first try and I feel like I am just getting started. But at the same time, I have been dreaming of this for my whole life.”

Ingebrigtsen’s star began to rise half a decade ago when his assault on age group records in the 1500m and mile began. The 2018 European Championships, where he raced to 1500m and 5000m gold, served as his coming out party. Tokyo may serve as the starting point of a new 1500m era.

Olympic record in 4x400m Mixed Relay

The Polish quartet of Karol Zalewski, Natalia Kaczmarek, Justyna Swiety-Ersetic and Duszynski clocked a European and now an Olympic record of 3:09.87 on July 31, 2021 to claim the title and earn a special place in the Olympic history books. While teams can choose any order they want for the relay, all teams in Tokyo 2020 opted for the conventional order of man-woman-woman-man.

“We all believed we could manage to win the medal,” Zalewski said. “We were not sure if it was going to be gold or something else, but we knew that we could win something. We all left our hearts on the track.” Duszynski, who ran the final leg in 44.38, held his arms outstretched wide as he crossed the line.

(The author is the winner of Presidential Awards for Sports and recipient of multiple National Accolades for Academic pursuits. He possesses a PhD, MPhil and double MSc. He can be reached at [email protected])