5 Extremely Short-Lived World Records

They were very briefly on top of the world
5 Extremely Short-Lived World Records

The work of a lifetime. Years and years of grueling training, pushing your own limits. All in pursuit of being the very best to ever do it in your chosen discipline. However, that moment when you finally break through the barrier set by all of humankind to do something never done before must feel incredible. Unfortunately, sometimes you barely feel the throne under your caboose before its whisked away again.

Here are five extremely brief world-record reigns…

Three Records from the ‘Night of Speed’ in 1968

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Jim Hines proving that a human could run 100 meters in under 10 seconds, which is mildly terrifying.

Weirdly, the 1968 Olympics werent the most important event of that year in the world of track and field. That title instead was snagged by an incredible night of exchanged world records at the AAU Track and Field Championships, four months earlier. Three Americans set records that night: Ronnie Ray Smith with a time of 10.14, then Charlie Greene with a time of 10.10, and finally the legendary Jim Hines with a time of 10.03. What made this even wilder was that these times have since been adjusted with electronic precision, so they now all qualify for the first time anyone has ever broken the 10-second barrier.

Alain Bernard‘s 2008 100-Meter Freestyle World Record

The first 100-meter freestyle world record set by Eamon Sullivan at the 2008 Olympics was actually during a different event: the 4x100-meter relay. While swimming his segment, he set a new world record of 47.24 seconds. This record would be remarkably brief, as that same record would be broken soon after in the 100-meter event proper by Frenchman Alain Bernard, who cut it to 47.20 flat. Only a few minutes later, Sullivans heat of the semi-finals began, and he didnt waste the chance to reclaim the record he'd just been enjoying, beating Bernards time again by a tidy 0.15, lowering it to 47.05. He would only win silver in the finals, but that must sting a little less when you can whisper “Im still faster than you” on the podium.

5 World Records in the 1968 Triple Jump

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The triple jump isnt among the top track — or even jump-related — events people think of. Usually, its long jump, hurdles and pole vault — who doesn‘t love themselves some pole vault? The triple jump looks a little weirder, and is a little more complicated. The 1968 Olympics, however, featured an incredible series of triple jumps that saw the world record traded back and forth between three different competitors. The first record was set by Giuseppe Gentile, who jumped 17.10, and then beat his own record in the finals with 17.22. Eventual winner Viktor Saneyev barely edged him out with 17.23, only to be dethroned by a new challenger, Nelson Prudencio, with 17.27. Ultimately, Saneyev won gold with a definitive statement of 17.39.

Weightlifters Naim Suleymanoglu and Valerios Leonidis‘ Historic 1996 Back-and-Forth

In the 1996 Olympics weightlifting competition, the gold and silver medals for the men‘s 64-kilogram event were, to many, already decided. It was just the order in which they went to Turkey‘s Naim Suleymanoglu and Greece‘s Valerios Leonidis that was the question. The competition consisted of two lifts: the snatch, and the clean and jerk. Whoever successfully lifted the most weight combined between the two would win. The snatch was first, and Naim and Valerios left everyone else in the dust, setting up a historic head-to-head in the clean and jerk.

Naim was ahead, meaning that Valerios would need to outperform him enough to at least tie (because Valerios weighed less, which was the tiebreaker). Luckily for him, Valerios was the current world record holder in the clean and jerk. Over an incredible series of three lifts apiece, four world records were broken in less than five minutes. First, Naim broke Valerios‘ clean-and-jerk record, at the same time claiming the combined weight world record. Leonidis responded by reclaiming his own clean-and-jerk record, and with it, the combined weight record. Naim, however, was able to match his record, which gave him the new combined world record. In the final attempt, Valerios was forced to attempt to increase the weight to make up Naim‘s lead from the previous event. He failed, and Naim won the gold medal, with each man walking away with a new world record.

The Weird World of Pentathlons and A Seven-Second World Record

It would seem to make sense that theres no way that someone crossing the finish line second could break the world record of the person who just beat them. Welcome to the weirdness of multi-disciplinary events, specifically the pentathlon. Because the pentathlon is scored in points, based on five events that are conducted separately. Your score, obviously, cant be finalized until the last event, in this case the 800 meters. Polands Adrianna Sulek completed the 800 meters in 2:07.17, which gave her a final score of 5,013 points, a world record. 6.43 seconds later, Nafissatou Thiam completed her own 800 meters with a time of 2:13.60, but because of her performance in the earlier four events, this gave her a total of 5,055 points, meaning Sulek held the record for less than seven seconds.

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