The Olympic Games provide the ultimate track and field test. With only one chance every four years to gain a gold medal, the Games frequently bring the best out of the world's greatest athletes. The best of the best not only perform better than their contemporaries, but better than any of their predecessors as well, earning athletics immortality as Olympic record-setters. Seven men's Olympic records were set at the 2012 London Olympics.
1. 100 MetersUsain Bolt, Jamaica, 9.63.
August 5, 2012. Bolt broke the Olympic record with a then-world record time of 9.69 seconds in 2008, then topped his own Olympic mark in London, although by 2012 he'd lowered the world record to 9.58. Still, his London performance was the second-fastest 100 meters of all time, as of 2012.
2. 200 MetersUsain Bolt, Jamaica, 19.30. August 20, 2008. Bolt thrilled the track and field community by breaking world records in the 100 and 200 meters at the Beijing Olympics. He lowered both world marks the next year, but the 200-meter Olympic record withstood Bolt’s own challenge in 2012, when he took the gold in 19.32 seconds.
3. 400 Meters400 meters Michael Johnson, United States, 43.49. July 29, 1996. Johnson dominated the field in Alanta to win the first of his two Olympic 400-meter gold medals. He topped Quincy Watts’ 1992 time by one-hundredth of a second.
4. 800 Meters David Rudisha, Kenya, 1:40.91.
August 9 2012. Rudisha topped the Olympic mark and also set the 800-meter world record for the third time in London.
5. 1500 MetersNoah Ngeny, Kenya, 3:32.07. September 29, 2000. Ngeny shocked world record-holder Hicham El Guerrouj by a quarter-second to break Sebastia Coe’s Olympic mark.
6. 5000 Meters Kenenisa Bekele, Ethiopia, 12:57.82
August 23, 2008. Bekele was overshadowed by Usain Bolt in Beijing, but the Ethiopian completed one of the great feats in distance running history by setting Olympic records in both the 5000 and 10,000 meters within six days.
7. 10,000 MetersKenenisa Bekele, Ethiopia, 27:01.17 August 17, 2008. Bekele won his first gold medal in Beijing by breaking his own Olympic record by almost four seconds.
8. MarathonSamuel Wanjiru, Kenya, 2:06:32 August 24, 2008. Wanjiru won the fastest-ever Olympic marathon, shattering Carlos Lopes’ 24-year-old record by 2:49. Silver medalist Jaouad Gharib also topped the old mark, while third place Tsegay Kebede would’ve won all but two previous Olympic marathons.
9. SteeplechaseJulius Kariuki, Kenya, 8:05.51 September 30, 1988. Kariuki wasn't even considered Kenya's best steeplechaser in 1988, but he surprised the field to take the gold. He narrowly missed the world record, but his Olympic mark still survives.
10. 110-Meter HurdlesLiu Xiang, China, 12.91.
August 27, 2004. Liu tied Colin Jackson's world record while taking the gold in Athens.