For decades certain athletes have dominated the 100 metres track and field competition. The 100 metres sprint race is one of the most popular and prestigious events in the sport of athletics. It has been contested at the Summer Olympics since 1896 for men and since 1928 for women.
Since the sprint event began in 1896, 10 men stood out as the fastest and the greatest of all time. They are:
1. Usain Bolt, Jamaica: 9:58 Seconds
Usain Bolt, born on 21 August, 1986 is a Jamaican former sprinter. He is a world record holder in the 100 metres, 200 metres and 4 × 100 metres relay. Owing to his achievements and dominance in sprint competition, he is widely considered to be the greatest sprinter of all time.
An eight-time Olympic gold medalist, Bolt is the only sprinter to win Olympic 100m and 200m titles at three consecutive Olympics (2008, 2012 and 2016). In addition he won two 4 × 100 relay gold medals. He gained worldwide fame for his double sprint victory in world record times at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which made him the first person to hold both records since fully automatic time became mandatory.
An eleven-time World Champion, he won consecutive World Championship 100m, 200m and 4 × 100 metres relay gold medals from 2009 to 2015, with the exception of a 100m false start in 2011. He is the most successful athlete of the World Championships. Bolt is the first athlete to win four World Championship titles in the 200m and is the joint-most successful in the 100m with three titles.
Bolt improved upon his second 100m world record of 9.69 with 9.58 seconds in 2009 in Berlin – the biggest improvement since the start of electronic timing. He has twice broken the 200 metres world record, setting 19.30 in 2008 and 19.19 in 2009. He has helped Jamaica to three 4 × 100 metres relay world records, with the current record being 36.84 seconds set in 2012. Bolt’s most successful event is the 200 m, with three Olympic and four World titles. The 2008 Olympics was his international debut over 100 m; he had earlier won numerous 200 m medals (including 2007 World Championship silver) and holds the world under-20 and world under-18 records for the event. His achievements as a sprinter have earned him the media nickname “Lightning Bolt.”
2. Tyson Gay, USA: 9:69 Seconds
Tyson Gay, born on August 9, 1982, is an American track and field sprinter who competed in the 100 and 200 meters dash. His 100m personal best of 9.69 seconds which he ran in Shangai on 20 September, 2009, is the American record and makes him tied for the second fastest athlete ever. His 200m time of 19.58 Seconds makes him the seventh fastest athlete in that event.
Gay has won numerous medals in major international competitions, including a gold medal sweep of the 100m, 200m and 4 × 100m relay at the 2007 Osaka World Championships. This made him the second man to win all three events at the same World Championships, after Maurice Greene (Usain Bolt duplicated the feat two years later). Gay is a four-time U.S. champion in the 100m.
At the 2008 Olympic Trials, he ran a wind assisted 9.68 seconds in the 100m. Days later, he suffered a severe hamstring injury in the 200m trials and did not win any medals at the Beijing Olympics. His performance of 9.71 seconds to win the 100m silver medal in the 2009 World Championships is the fastest non-winning time for the event.
In July 2013, it was announced that Gay had tested positive for a banned substance, following which he withdrew from consideration for the World Championships in Moscow. The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) suspended him until June 23, 2014, and stripped him of his silver medal in the 4 × 100m relay from the 2012 Summer Olympics as a result.
Gay is a two-time winner of the Jesse Owens Award, was the 2007 IAAF World Athlete of the Year, won Best Track and Field Athlete for Track & Field News in 2007 and for ESPY Award in 2008 and 2011. He has also achieved multiple Men’s season’s best performances in the 100m and 200m.
2. Yohan Blake, Jamaica: 9.69 Seconds
Yohan Blake is a Jamaican sprinter of 100 and 200 metres, born on 26 December, 1989. He won gold at the 100m at the 2011 World Championships as the youngest 100m world champion ever, and a silver medal in the 2012 Olympic Games in London in the 100m and 200m races for the Jamaican team.
Blake is the second fastest man ever in both 100m and 200m. Together with Tyson Gay, he is the joint second fastest man ever over 100m with a personal best of 9.69 seconds which he ran on 23 August 2012 in Lausanne, with less favorable wind conditions than Gay’s personal best from three years prior. Only Usain Bolt has run faster. His personal best for the 200m (19.26 seconds) is the second fastest time ever after Bolt. In this particular race, his reaction time was incredibly slow (almost 0.25s) and had he made even an average start he would have comfortably set a new world record, bettering the seemingly unreachable Usain Bolt’s improbable record. He holds the Jamaican national junior record for the 100 metres, and was formerly the youngest sprinter to have broken the 10-second barrier (at 19 years, 196 days).
4. Asafa Powell, Jamaica: 9:72 Seconds
Asafa Powell, born 23 November, 1982, is a Jamaican sprinter who specialised in the 100 metres. He set the 100 metres world record twice, between June 2005 and May 2008 with times of 9.77 and 9.74 seconds. Powell has consistently broken the 10-second barrier in competition, with his personal best of 9.72 seconds which he ran in Lausanner, 2 September, 2008, ranking fourth on the all-time list of male 100 metre athletes. As of 1 September 2016, Powell has broken the ten-second barrier more times than anyone else – 97 times. He currently holds the world record for the 100 yard dash with a time of 9.09 seconds, set on 27 May 2010 in Ostrava, Czech Republic. At the 2016 Rio Olympic Games he won a gold medal in the 4 x 100 metres relay.
Powell competed in the 100m at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics, finishing fifth in 2004 and 2008 and eighth after injuring his groin during the race in 2012. At the 2007 Osaka World Championships, he won a bronze and a silver medal in the 100 m and 4 x 100 m relay respectively, and he was successful at the Commonwealth Games, winning two golds and one silver medal. At the 2009 World Championships, he won the 100 m bronze and relay gold. Powell has won five times at the IAAF World Athletics Final and was the former 100 m world record holder in the event.
Powell had tested positive for the drug oxilofrine in 2013 and withdrew from the 2013 World Athletics Championships as a result. Powell and fellow Jamaican Sprinter, Sherone Simpson had taken the supplement Ephiphany D1 as part of their training regimen, not knowing it contained oxilofrine. It was later revealed that Acacia was substituted with oxilofrine, and not revealed by the manufacturer.
5. Justin Gatlin, USA: 9.74 Seconds
Justin Gatlin, born February 10, 1982, is an American sprinter who specializes in the 100 and 200 metres events. He is the 2017 100m World Champion. He is the 2004 Olympic champion in the 100 metres, the 2005 and 2017 World champion in the same event, and the 2005 World champion in the 200 metres. Gatlin was banned from competing between 2006 and 2010 by the USADA for failing a second drugs test, testing positive for testosterone.
A five-time Olympic medalist, Justin Gatlin’s personal best of 9.74 seconds, which he ran on 15 May, 2015 in Doha ranks fifth on the all-time list of male 100-metre athletes.
6. Christian Coleman, USA: 9:76 Seconds
Christian Coleman, born March 6, 1996, is an American professional track and field sprinter who competes in the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash. He is the current world champion in the 100 meters. He was a double medalist at the World Championships in Athletics in 2017, winning silver medals in both the 100m and 4 × 100-meter relay. He holds personal records of 9.76 seconds for the 100m which he ran on 28 September 2019 in Doha making him the sixth fastest man of all time and 19.85 seconds for the 200m, and is also the world indoor record holder for the 60-meter dash with 6.34 seconds. He was IAAF Diamond League champion in 2018 and the world number one ranked runner in the 100m for the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
Coleman represented the United States in the relay at the 2016 Summer Olympics, competing in the heats only. He was the gold medalist in the 60 m at the 2018 IAAF World Indoor Championships and is a two-time American national champion, having won the 60m in 2018 and 100m in 2019. Coleman competed collegiately for the Tennessee Volunteers and won five NCAA titles indoors and out, including American collegiate record performances in both the 100 m and 60m.
7. Nesta Carter, Jamaica: 9.78 Seconds
Nesta Carter, born on October 11, 1985, is a Jamaican sprinter who specializes in the 100 metres event. Carter has been successful as part of the Jamaican 4 x 100 metres relay team, taking gold and setting successive world records at the 2011 World Championships and 2012 London Olympics. He also won a 4 x 100m silver medal at the 2007 World Championship and a gold at the 2015 World Championships. On August 11, 2013, Carter secured an individual 100m World Championship bronze medal in Moscow, behind Justin Gatlin and teammate Usain Bolt. He followed this with another gold in the 4 x 100 metres relay.
In August 2010 he became only the fifth sprinter to run the 100 metres in less than 9.8 seconds. His current 100m personal best of 9.78 seconds which he ran in Reiti on 29 August 2010, ranks him as the sixth fastest man of all time, behind fellow Jamaicans Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Asafa Powell, and Americans Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin.
On 25 January 2017, the International Olympic Committee sanctioned Carter for doping at the 2008 Olympic Games, meaning that Carter lost his gold medal for the men’s 4 × 100 m relay.
8. Maurice Greene, USA: 9.79 Seconds
Maurice Greene was born July 23, 1974. He is an American former track and field sprinter who specialized in the 100 meters and 200 meters. He is a former 100m world record holder with a time of 9.79 seconds which he ran on 16 June, 1999 in Athens, making him the eighth fastest man of all time. During the height of his career (1997–2004) he won four Olympic medals and was a five-time World Champion. This included three golds at the 1999 World Championships, a feat which had previously only been achieved by Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson and has since been equaled by three others.
His career was affected by a number of injuries from 2001 onward, although he won the 100 meters bronze and silver in the sprint relay at the 2004 Summer Olympics. Greene was also successful indoors: he was the 1999 Indoor World Champion, was the world record holder in the 60-meter dash for nearly 20 years and remains the joint-fastest man over 50 meters. He raced sparingly after an injury in 2005 and officially retired in 2008. Over his career, he made the fourth most sub-10-second runs (51) in the 100m, only surpassed by Asafa Powell, Justin Gatlin and Usain Bolt.
Following his track career he has become an ambassador for the IAAF and a TV personality, appearing on Identity, Blind Date, and Dancing with the Stars. Most recently he volunteered as a track coach at University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) for the 2012–2013 season.
9. Steve Mullings, Jamaican: 7.80 Seconds
Steve Mullings, born on 28 November, 1982, is a Jamaican former sprint athlete who specialized in the 100 and 200 metres events and in 2011 was given a lifetime ban for doping.
Mullings began his international athletics career with a bronze medal win in the 100m at the Pan American Junior Championships. At the 2004 national championship he made his first impact in senior athletics, setting new bests of 10.04 and 20.22 in the sprints, and finishing as the 200m national champion. This earned him qualification into the 2004 Summer Olympics, but he was withdrawn from the competition after his sample from the national championships tested positive for banned substances. After his B sample also tested positive for testosterone, he was banned from competition for two years and his results between mid-2004 and 2005 were removed from the record.
He returned to competition in 2006 but finished the season with unimpressive bests of 10.31 and 20.54. The following year was much more successful. He won the 100 m in Zaragoza with a wind-aided (3.7 m/s) run of 9.91 seconds, and featured on the 2007 IAAF Golden League circuit. He competed at the 2007 World Championships in Athletics as a heats runner for the Jamaican silver medal-winning 4×100 metres relay team.
After an uneventful 2008, Mullings returned to form in 2009. He placed second over 200 metres in the national championships behind Olympic champion Usain Bolt. He set new personal bests in both sprints in July, running 20.01 seconds over 200m in Rethymno, and 10.01 seconds over 100 m at the Golden Gala. Competing at the 2009 World championships in Berlin, Mullings finished 5th behind Bolt in the 200m in a personal best time of 19.98 seconds and won his first global gold medal as part of the successful Jamaican 4×100 metres relay team, running in both heats and the final.
On 4 June, 2011, he broke the 10 second barrier for the first time at age 28, clocking 9.80 seconds in Eugene and by the end of the year had run under 10 seconds seven times.
However, on 11 August 2011, it was reported that Mullings had tested positive for the drug Furosemide, a masking agent. The positive test was recorded at the Jamaican national trials in June where he finished third in the men’s 100-metre final. On 22 November the Jamaican Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel handed him a lifetime ban from athletics. They voted unanimously on the decision.
10. Richard Thompson, Trinidad and Tobago: 9.82 Seconds
Richard Thompson, born 7 June, 1985, is a sprinter from Cascade, Trinidad and Tobago who specializes in the 100 metres. He is the 10th best 100 meters runner of all time and the Trinidad and Tobago record holder with a personal best of 9.82, which he ran on 21 June, 2014 in Port of Spain. He occasionally runs the 200 meters and he has the fourth fastest time ever run by a Trinidad and Tobago athlete behind Ato Boldon (19.77-13 July 1997- Germany), Jereem Richards (19.97- Lexington, U.S.A.), Kyle Greaux (19.97- CAC Games, Colombia-2018), and Rondel Sorillo (20.16) and the 127th best of all-time from all countries in a best time of 20.18, 0.99 seconds slower than the World Record holder Usain Bolt. He was formerly for four years (June, 2014- August 31, 2018) ranked as the ninth fastest athlete in history over the 100m distance with his national record of 9.82 seconds.