Barely into the second week of June, 2011 has already witnessed a new record for most sub 10-second performers in the men’s 100m in one calendar year.
This past Tuesday (7) in Montreuil-sous-Bois, France, Jamaican Yohan Blake (9.95) and the European 100m and 200m champion Christophe Lemaitre (9.96) ran the distance under 10 seconds for the first time this season, becoming the 14th and the 15th sprinters under the “magic barrier” in 2011.* And we still have five more high profile Samsung Diamond League men’s 100m races, beginning with Saturday’s contest in New York along with the USA national championships and the Jamaican championships later this month. The 100m season will of course reach its climax on 28 August, the day when the event will be contested at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu.
The previous record for most sub-10s was set in the last Olympic year. In 2008, 14 sprinters broke that barrier a total of 53 times. Both figures were records for a calendar year, breaking the previous ones: 11 sub-10 performers in 2002 and 38 sub-10 performances in 1997.
Usain Bolt changed the perception of the sprints and the human boundaries with his World records in Beijing and at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, clocking 9.69 and 9.58, respectively, in the 100m, and 19.30 and 19.19 in the 200m. Not so long ago these types of performances seemed ‘out-of-this world’, but the Jamaican superstar illustrated the possibilities and now an increasing number of sprinters are setting their aims higher and higher, or in the case of this event, lower and lower, cutting not hundreds of a second, but tenths of a second from their personal bests every year.
Before 2008 there were 56 members in the “Sub-10 Club”. Now there are 78 and in the last four years most new members came from Jamaica and the USA - both with eight - starting with Bolt who ran his first sub-10 in Kingston on 3 May, 2008. There were a total of 10 new members in 2008 – another record. Three sprinters broke the barrier for the first time in 2009, another five in 2010 and in this season there are four new members: Jamaican Steve Mullings with 9.90 on 16 April in Starkville; Ngonidzashe Makusha, the first Club member from Zimbabwe, with 9.97 in Durham; Keston Bledman, the second from Trinidad and Tobago since 2008, with 9.93 in Clermont, Florida, on 4 June; and Jamaican Nickel Ashmeade with 9.96, also from Clermont.
On that date, there were two significant achievements.
At the Samsung Diamond League meeting in Eugene, Mullings stormed to 9.80, to move up to No. 6 on the all-time world lists. It was an unbelievable 100m race, which produced another two personal bests and a record-equalling six sprinters reaching the finish in under 10 seconds. Mike Rodgers (USA) jumped to No. 9 all-time with 9.85 and Michael Frater lowered his best to 9.94. Only twice in the history of the event were there six athletes running sub-10 in one race with a legal wind (maximum 2 m/sec): at the 1991 World Championships final in Tokyo and at 2008 Olympic Games Final in Beijing. Both times there was a World record in the race: 9.86 by Carl Lewis and 9.69 by Bolt.
Mullings however didn’t have much time atop the 2011 lists. Just hours later his training partner and 2007 triple World champion Tyson Gay blasted 9.79 in the heats at the Clermont. It was Gay’s 7th sub-9.80 legal performance, tying Asafa Powell for that record. Bolt has six while only two others have dipped below 9.80; Maurice Greene and Nesta Carter, once apiece.
Gay, the second fastest man of all time, knows a bit about the subject of speed. Near the end of last year he offered this prediction on his IAAF Online Diary: “In 2011 more men will run sub 10 seconds in the 100m and sub 20 seconds in the 200m than ever before in one year”. That first part is already a reality!
* Updated 11-June: Rakieem Salaam (USA) of the University of Oklahoma became the 16th runner to break the 10-second barrier in 2011 after finishing second at the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, clocking 9.97, on Friday (10). The winner, Ngonidzashe Makusha (ZIM), who improved to 9.89, had already broken 10 seconds earlier this season.
Ivan Tchechankov for the IAAF
- Sub-10 milestones -
78 members in the “Sub 10 Club”
#1 - Jim Hines (USA), 9.95 - Mexico City, 14.10.1968
#10 - Frank Fredericks (Nam), 9.95 - Tokyo, 28.8.1991
#20 - Maurice Greene (USA), 9.96 - Indianapolis, 12.6.1997
#30 - Tim Harden (USA), 9.92 - Luzern, 5.7.1999
#40 - Mickey Grimes (USA), 9.99 - Zurich, 15.8.2003
#50 - Olusoji Fasuba (Nig), 9.85 - Doha, 12.5.2006
#60 - Rodney Martin (USA), 9.95 - Eugene, 28.6.2008,
#70 - Yohan Blake (Jam), 9.96, - Lausanne, 8.7.2010
Other Notables -
#3 - Carl Lewis (USA), 9.97 - Modesto, 14.5.1983
#44 - Asafa Powell (Jam), 9.99 - Kingston, 12.6.2004
#51 - Tyson Gay (USA), 9.88 - Rethimno, 21.7.2006
#57 - Usain Bolt (Jam), 9.76 - Kingston, 3.5.2008
19 countries are represented in the club: USA has 35 members, Jamaica 11, Nigeria 7, Trinidad and Tobago 5, Great Britain 3, Canada, France and Ghana 2, Antigua, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, Namibia, The Netherlands Antilles, Portugal, Qatar, St.Kitts & Nevis and Zimbabwe 1.