Well, after ranking the women’s WR’s it’s only logical we do the same for the men’s WR’s. The ranking is done the same way, from the record most susceptible to being broken to the most resilient record, the unlikeliest to be broken.
I must admit that it was really interesting to make these ranking. You see, it’s not something I have in my mind when I watch track & field competitions. I usually only have this overall impression of the WR’s that there’s no fucking way we’ll see them getting broken and on the other hand WR’s that I won’t be surprised to see some athlete break them. And obviously there’s a chance that everything that I wrote here is complete bollocks (I reckon this word is in the “top 5 most British words evar”) and sometime soon, perhaps even at the Olympics, someone will suddenly amaze us with breaking one of the WRs that I deemed as the most unlikely to be broken. I mean – what is sport without surprises, right?
Anyway, take these two ranking posts, save them for the right moment and then shove them in my face and laugh about how clueless I am :-).
Without Freddy Adu…
22) Decathlon – 9,045 points (Ashton Eaton, 28-29.8.15) – In my opinion, this is the most breakable men’s WR, if only for the fact that 28-year-old Eaton, who set it less than a year ago – is still at the peak of his career. It’s true that this record was an extraordinary achievement, and included a simply phenomenal 45.00 seconds in the 400m dash, but still – when Eaton set this WR that result in the 400m was the only PB he set, and this year he already set better marks in several events than in his WR run. Meaning that improving this record is something that is within his reach. I wish we will see it happening in Rio.
21) Triple Jump – 18.29m (Jonathan Edwards, 7.8.95) – This 20-year-old WR is really begging to be broken. If two years ago we were experiencing the golden age of high jump, last year we experienced the golden age of triple jump. Never in history were there 3 active jumpers, let alone at the peak of their career, with PB’s of 18+ meters. The unstable (not only results-wise…) Teddy Tamgho (PB: 18.04m), Cuban great Pedro Pablo Pichardo (18.08m), and above all – Christian Taylor (18.21m) – can all threaten the WR and even break it. The duel between Taylor and Pichardo at the World Championships last year resulted in that crazy 18.21 result by Taylor, the 2nd longest jump evar. This year Pichardo gone missing, but Taylor is here and he is not going anywhere.
20) Pole Vault – 6.16m (Renaud Lavillenie, 15.2.14) – The magnificent Renaud, who was born on the exact same day as I was, is the greatest pole vaulter since Bubka’s retirement. Two years ago he did something that people thought will take many more years, and broke Bubka’s WR, which stood for 21 years. Lavillenie is still at the peak of his career (and perhaps this means that I’m not such an old fuck as I keep telling myself?) and is capable of vaulting over 6m in any given competition. Still, although there is a decent chance we’ll see Renaud himself break this WR, the pole vault is so unpredictable that it can very well be that this WR will stand for another 20 years now.
19) Marathon – 2:02:57 hours (Dennis Kimetto, 28.9.14) – Almost everything I know about marathon I learned from the awesome Nachshon Shohat and his blog at DeBuzzer (it’s in Hebrew but here’s a link to it anyway). Eliud Kipchoge ran 2:03:05 at the last London Marathon, and it is possible that he, together with Wilson Kipsang and Kimmetto himself – is capable of breaking this WR in a fast marathon, such as the Berlin one, already in 2017 (but obviously not in the Olympic Games).
18) 1,500m – 3:26.00 minutes (Hicham El Guerrouj, 14.7.98) – The WR of the legendary El Guerrouj (who BTW holds 7 of the 9 fastest times evar). In the past I used to think that it is unbreakable, until Asbel Kiprop – the undisputed ruler of this distance in the past years (3 times World champion + Olympic champion from Beijing) – came along, and last year in Monaco delivered the greatest 1,500m run since Bernard Lagat and El Guerrouj himself tried to break the WR in Brussels in 2001 and nearly succeeded. In Monaco Kiprop ran the distance in 3:26.69 – the 5th fastest time evar, and showed that even the great El Guerrouj is not immune from potential breaking of his records.
17) 4x100m – 36.84 seconds (Jamaica, 11.8.12) – The last among three 4×100 WR’s that the Jamaican relay team set in the span of 4 years, all orchestrated by Usain of course. This WR is fresh, but Usain is already past his prime and Yohan Blake is returning from an injury. And still – with good baton exchanges (which is something the Jamaican team always had, unlike the USA team) I believe they can get close to it. Break it? I admit that I find it hard to believe. But still, contrary to the USA, the Jamaicans always manage to squeeze 110% of effort from themselves in the relay, so who knows…
16) High Jump – 2.45m (Javier Sotomayor, 27.7.93) – If I were to do these rankings just two years ago, this WR would have been featured right at the bottom of this list. That was THE golden age of high jump, with 6 (!!!) active jumpers having PB’s of 2.40m+, headlined of course by Mutaz Barshim (my favorite high jumper, a PB of 2.43m) and Bogdan Bondarenko (2.42m). They both tried to break this WR on several occasions, but even though I remember some very good attempts by Bondarenko – it didn’t work out. Since then we had some decline in the event, which at least for Barshim I felt that it had to do with a change he made in his jumping style, but even this year the young Qatari already jumped 2.40m, Bondarenko has retained some of his old self, and we can only hope that the glorious days of 2014 will return and someone from the über-excellent generation of jumpers we have today will break this WR. I believe it will happen.
15) 3,000m Steeplechase – 7:53.63 (Saif Saeed Shaheen, 3.9.04) – In 2011 in Monaco Brimin Kipruto tried to break this WR, and came as close as possible, with a time of 7:53.64… Only one hundredth of a second off! The last generation of the great Kenyan runners is already pretty old and everyone there are over 30 (Kipruto, Koech, Ezekiel Kemboi) and will not break this WR, but the most Kenyan discipline of them all always produces new talents, and they are represented by 23 year old Birech and THE most promising runner in my opinion – 21 year old Conselsus Kipruto, who will soon break the 8 minutes barrier and join the prestigious club (PB: 8:00.12). Give them some more time and perhaps we will see one of them getting close to the WR.
14) 110m Hurdles – 12.80 seconds (Aries Merritt, 7.9.12) – This WR was the pinnacle of the greatest single year any runner ever had at 110m hurdles. Merritt improved the previous record by 7 hundredths of a second, but since then he experienced health problems and never really returned to his previous form. Still, there are several excellent runners who ran under 13 seconds since then, and although no one really approached 12.80, a little improvement in technique here can lead to dramatic improvement in PB’s. So I wouldn’t say that someone like Orlando Ortega (PB: 12.94) or Pascal Martinot-Lagarde (12.95) can’t threaten the WR, even though it seems pretty far right now.
13) 800m – 1:40.91 minutes (David Rudisha, 9.8.12) – This WR is still very fresh and Rudisha is still with us and is in fact the reigning 800m World Champion, but the thing is that “2016 Rudisha” and “2012 Rudisha” are totally different runners – a result of the injuries he had and which probably slowed him down, that led to a transition from very fast races in which he beat his opponents right from the start, to slower races which he (sometimes) wins due to superior tactic. Even though he is only 27 years old, I – unfortunately – don’t see him managing to break the WR again (after previously breaking it 3 times in the span of two years), and among his competitors there are several who run low 1:42, but not really threaten the WR. Perhaps Nigel Amos who-has-the-ugliest-running-style-evar-and-that’s-including-myself sometime.
12) 200m – 19.19 seconds (Usain Bolt, 20.8.09) – In my opinion there are two people today who can theoretically break this WR. The first one is Usain himself, but the chances for that are not high, since he will turn 30 in August, and the second one is Yohan Blake, his teammate from the Jamaican squad, who should have already broken this WR back in 2011 (ran a 19.26) if it wasn’t for his catastrophic start (his reaction time was 269ms, about 100ms more than it’s supposed to be for a good sprinter). Blake got injured since then, but he returned recently + he’s only 25 years old and has already shown in the past that this WR is not as unbreakable as one might think.
11) 5,000m – 12:37.35 minutes (Kenenisa Bekele, 31.5.04) – I feel that Kenenisa’s WR in the 5,000 is not unreachable for some of today’s elite runners. Mo Farah might prefer to win medals than set records, but runners like Hagos Gebrhiwet (I do not believe for a second that he is only 22. He looks 40 ever since he was 19), Yenew Alamirew and Muktar Edris are still young enough and have PB’s under 12:50 or a little above it, not to mention my favorite runner today: 18 year old Yomif Kejelcha, who looks like the Ethiopian version of Bashar al-Assad and owns a PB of 12:53.98. Any one of them can (perhaps) get close to the WR in the near future.
10) 400m – 43.18 seconds (Michael Johnson, 26.8.99) – Watching Johnson set this WR, at the World Championships in Seville, was one of the most amazing experiences I had as a young T&F fan. A decade ago we saw Jeremy Wariner getting closer and closer to this WR, until he stopped at 43.45 in Osaka 2007. Since then no one was really close, until Wayde van Niekerk came, and in the run of his life last year cut 48 hundredths from his PB for a crazy result of 43.48. Even though it seemed like an explosion of once in a lifetime, who knows – perhaps the competition with Kirani James (43.74) and LaShawn Merritt will push one of them towards the WR. Van Niekerk is only 24, James is only 23. Merritt is already 30, and I don’t believe he could approach the WR too much, but perhaps he can help James or van Niekerk by setting a high bar for victory.
9) Shot Put – 23.12m (Randy Barnes, 20.5.90) – A very old WR set by Barnes, who at the time was suspended for doping offence, but one that is really unapproachable – unlike the Women’s WR. In the last two years we witnessed the ascent of Jo Kovacs, the awesome American shot putter, who owns a PB of 22.56m – the 12th best result evar, the best result since 2003 and the second best result of the last 26 years. In my opinion, if someone has the chance to break this WR it is Kovacs, and not former wunderkind David Storl, who despite being younger by one year (was born in 90, Kovacs in 89) owns a PB of 22.20m and stayed basically at the same level for the past 5 years.
8) Hammer Throw – 86.74m (Yuriy Syedikh, 30.8.86) – Throwers don’t really approach those results, that Syedikh and his rival Sergey Litvinov made common in the 80’s. In 2005 Belarussian Ivan Tikhon threw a 86.73m, one centimeter off of Syedikh’s WR, but he was caught on doping offence later on and so this result was annulled and his PB officially stands at a mere 84.51m. But anyway, he’s old already. The thrower who pwns this event in recent years – Pawel Fajdek (who looks like a huge tattooed version of Harry Potter), has a PB of 83.93m, and even though this result is only the 44th best evar, one must remember he is still only 27 years old. He can definitely get closer to the WR. I find it hard to believe he can break it, but on the other hand – who would have believed that Harry can beat Lord Voldemort?
7) Discus Throw – 74.08m (Jürgen Schult, 6.6.86) – Men’s oldest WR just celebrated its 30th birthday. And yet, it is not entirely unrealistic to think someone might break it. The legendary Virgilijus Alekna came as close as a discus’ diameter from breaking it (73.88m), and Gerd Kanter who is still active also came really close (73.38m). Among the active throwers there’s also Piotr Malachowski, who has a PB of 71.84m, but he’s already 33 years old and I don’t think he will improve it further. I would say that the biggest hope is the younger brother of discus great Robert Harting – Christoph Harting, who at the age of 25 owns a PB of 68.06m. There is a chance that he will throw over 70m, just like big brother Robert, and may he come even closer to the WR, but honestly, I don’t see it happening. There is a reason that this WR stayed unbroken for 30 years already…
6) 4x400m – 2:54.26 minutes (USA, 22.8.93) – I must admit that this is a WR that I don’t want to see getting broken, because Michael Johnson, one of my favorite athletes ever, was anchoring the team that set it. When the USA relay team had simultaneously both Jeremy Wariner and LaShawn Merritt (2 of the top 6 all-time fastest 400m runners), i.e. in 2007-2009, this WR looked like it was in serious danger. And indeed, in Beijing 2008 they ran 2:55.39, the second fastest time evar. But Wariner waned quickly and even though Merritt is still with us and is doing his best wine impersonation (getting better with age, yes?… sorry 😦 ), they are missing at least another runner of his caliber. Until that happens – this WR stays. No other quartet has a real chance of threatening this WR.
5) 100m – 9.58 seconds (Usain Bolt, 16.8.09) – No way Jose. Simply don’t expect Usain to break this WR. The closest he came to it since he set it was the 9.63 in London, and that was 4 years ago. At the age of 29 (and soon 30) I don’t see him managing to better it, and among the present generation no one is nowhere near it. True, Yohan Blake ran 9.69 once, but it also was in 2012. We’ll have to wait for the younger generation of runners, such as Andre De Grasse (21 years old, PB: 9.92) and Trayvon Bromell (21 years old, 9.84), to grow up and start edging closer to 9.70… This WR from Usain was simply ahead of his time, People don’t run yet under 9.70 and he’s already dipping below 9.60. Not cool, Usain. Totally not cool, man.
4) 400m Hurdles – 46.78 seconds (Kevin Young, 6.8.92) – A really mind-fucking (should I reduce usage of this phrase?) WR by Kevin Young, considering his run was not perfect – he knocked over (!), really knocked over – something pretty rare at 400m hurdles – the last hurdle and celebrated before he crossed the finish line. He probably could have run in 46.60 or perhaps even less than that. Unbelievable. No other runner ever ran under 47 seconds, and the best times of present-day belong to the great Felix Sanchez (47.25) and the little less great Kerron Clement (47.24) – who I thought at the time could threaten the WR, because he set that 47.24 PB when he was merely 19. Almost all of the biggest names in the event are with us for many years now, they all run occasionally – when they are asked really nicely – under 48 seconds, and neither one of them is going to break this WR.
3) 10,000m – 26:17.53 (Kenenisa Bekele, 26.8.05) – The great Kenenisa’s second WR is much less breakable than the 5,000m record. This is a fantastic WR that no one is going to get near to in the near future. The 10,000m run suffers these past few years from a lack of sex-appeal – it is almost never featured in the Diamond League program, and many of the top runners for this distance are making a transition to the marathon because of the leap in prestige and prize money there. Bekele himself is already 34 years old and nearing the end of his career, Mo Farah was always more of a trophies guy than a records guy, and the best result of the past 5 years from someone not named Bekele is 26:43.98, by the Kenyan Lucas Rotich, 26 seconds off… No, we will not see it getting broken in the near future. At least not until we will see the next Ethiopian phenom, who grew up on Bekele’s legacy the same way as Bekele himself grew up on Gebrselassie’s legacy.
2) Javelin Throw – 98.48m (Jan Železný, 25.5.96) – The 2nd best men’s WR according to the IAAF scorebook (a single point behind Usain’s 100m WR) is also the second most unbreakable WR. This WR of Jelezny, the mighty Czech (whose name means “iron”), has already celebrated its 20th birthday without anyone really managing to get near it – not even Jelezny himself, who since then threw the javelin “only” to a distance of 94.64m. The Kenyan Julius Yego (an amazing story by himself) dropped my jaw to the floor when he threw 92.72m at the World Championships last year: it was the longest distance anyone ever threw the javelin since Jelezny in 2001, the 8th longest throw of all-time, and still it was very far from the WR… This year we saw the breakthrough of the potential we always knew Thomas Rohler has, with a throw of 91.28m, but I don’t see him or anyone else throwing the javelin beyond 94m, which is something only Jelezny ever managed to do.
1) Long Jump – 8.95m (Mike Powell, 30.8.91) – If it wasn’t for Powell jumping this one time in band camp in Tokyo those extra 5 centimeters, we would have been talking today about Bob Beamon’s WR, which is still standing since fucking 1968. This basically sums things up. This is what happens when no one is even dreaming of getting near distances of 8.70m. The long jump is at a kinda of low point, and the jumper who dominates the event in recent years, has a PB of only 8.51m. Results of 8.30m can be enough to win World Championships or the Olympic Games (based on a true story), and just when a young promising jumper appeared, who just set a high-quality PB – Russian Aleksandr Menkov (8.56) – he got injured and now is suspended like the entire Russian T&F team. When will the next Ivan Pedroso show up?
I will not be as decisive about this WR as I was about the women’s WR that was ranked 1st, but the chances that we will see it get broken are very very (very very very) slim
I had many doubts regarding the WRs occupying the top 2 spots, and I switched their rankings several times. The long jump WR wins because of the fact that theoretically we were pretty close to witnessing a WR that stands for nearly 50 years. On the other hand – Jan Fucking Jelezny, who owns the all-time top 5 results in javelin throwing history and no one even dreams of coming near him. Decisions, decisions…