Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce wins the 100m at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 (Getty Images)

100 metres

How it works

Runners race for 100m down the home straight of a 400m track. They start from blocks and run in lanes.

A reaction time – measured by sensors in the starting pistol and on the blocks – of less than 0.1 is deemed a false start and runners will be recalled, and the responsible athlete disqualified.

History

The 'stade' (192m race) was part of the Ancient Olympics. In more modern times, the 100 yards (91.44m) was adopted as the foremost sprint – it was part of the Commonwealth Games until 1966 – but the classic 100m distance, the Blue Riband event, has been part of the Olympics since 1896.

Did you know

Sprinters will typically reach their peak speed between 50m and 60m.

Gold standard

Of the 28 Olympic finals to date, US men have won more than half of them with 17. But Jamaica has taken the four most recent Olympic golds with Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce achieving back-to-back wins in 2008 and 2012. 

Icons

Jesse Owens

The phenomenal US athlete humiliated Adolf Hitler, who intended to use the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin as a showcase for 'Aryan superiority', by winning gold in the 100m, 200m, long jump and 4x100m.

Gail Devers

This US sprinter bounced back from Graves’ disease, a thyroid disorder, to win back-to-back Olympic 100m titles in Barcelona (1992) and Atlanta (1996). She also landed three world 100m hurdles titles in a long and prolific career.

Toplists