1991 – Carl Lewis:
Lewis had won 65 consecutive long jump meets over 10 years prior to the Championships and looked certain to make it 66 when he opened with a World Championship record leap of 8.68 meters (28 feet, 5¾ inches), then soared to a wind-aided 8.83/28-11½ in the third round. But fellow American Mike Powell then topped Lewis with a world record that still stands in 2011, leaping 8.95/29-4½. Lewis tried to answer and recorded a legal personal best of 8.87/29-1¼, but couldn’t match Powell. Lewis never jumped farther, so, ironically, the best-ever jump of one of the greatest long jumpers in history was only good for second place.
Read an interview with Mike Powell.
1992 – Kevin Young:
Young executed his plan to perfection at the Barcelona Olympics. Despite hitting the 10th hurdle with his lead foot, and even though he raised his arms in triumph before finishing, he won the race and achieved his goal, a world record time of 46.78 seconds that still stands, entering the 2012 season.
Read more about hurdles stride patterns.
1993 – Colin Jackson:
Liu Xiang equaled Jackson’s world record in 2004, then topped it in 2006. Dayron Robles holds the current mark of 12.87 seconds.
1994- Noureddine Morceli:
The Algerian’s versatility was clearly on display in 1994. Already the mile and 1500-meter world record-holder at that point, Morceli set the 3000-meter world record with a time of 7:25.11 at a Grand Prix event in Monaco, beating Moses Kiptanui’s 2-year-old mark of 7:28.96. Morceli also ran his best-ever 5000 in 1994, winning a Grand Prix event in Zurich in 13:03.85. In the 1500, he won the Grand Prix series final in 3:40.89 and took the World Cup final in 3:34.70. All of his records have since been broken.
1995 – Jonathan Edwards:
Edwards foreshadowed his intentions by flying past the world record twice on wind-aided jumps early in the 1995 season, topping out at 18.43/60-5½ at the European Cup. He then squeaked by Willie Banks’ world mark by a centimeter, leaping a legal 17.98/58-11¾ in Salamanca, Spain, shortly before the World Championships. Edwards had previously refused to compete on Sundays, for religious reasons, which prevented him from competing in the 1991 Championships. But he’d changed his mind by 1995, and opened the World Championship triple jump final with a record leap of 18.16/59-7. He then extended his record to 18.29/60-¼ in the next round.