Top 10 Fastest Runners in the World History

Sprinting, which involves running at a top speed for a 100-m dash, is one of the most popular events of every Olympics. Over the years, this sport has been used to determine the fastest runner globally.

As we approach the 2022 Tokyo Olympics, sprinters will try their best to break current records predetermined by the fastest runners in world history. According to recent studies, sprinters can level up to 27mph, while the average running speed of humans is around 19mph. However, to beat these records, you need to run the 10-m dash below the historic 10-s time barrier first broken in 1968 by Jim Hines.

Interestingly, many sprinters have broken that record ever since. And to show you who is the fastest runner in the world, I have created a list of the fastest runners of all time, together with their fastest running speed.

Top Ten Fastest People in the World

1. Usain Bolt (100-m record: 9.58s)

Usain Bolt - Fastest Runners in the World History

Erik van Leeuwen (GFDL or GFDL), via Wikimedia Commons

Born in 1986 in Jamaica, Usain Bolt is a legendary athlete in the 100m race. Besides, he's the most popular sportsman, having won 3 consecutive Olympic gold medals in the men's 100m and 200m races. That 's 2008, 2012 & 2016. The world's fastest track runner also holds the fastest human running speed record. Bolt's fastest run was in the 2009 World Championship in Berlin when he ran a 100-m sprint in 9.58 sec.

Interestingly, that was not the first time Bolt broke a record in the sport. He started breaking records in 2004 when he became a professional runner. He ran a 200-m race in 19.93 at the Caribbean Community Games, becoming the youngest sprinter to run in less than 20 seconds. Bolt later created his 1st world record in May 2008 in the 100-m race at the Reebok Track & Field Grand Prix, New York, with a time of 9.72 sec.

Usain finally retired in 207 after taking part in the World championships. In total, he has 8 gold medals across 3 Olympic competitions and 11 gold medals (plus 1 bronze and 2 silvers) across 4 World championships.

If you were wondering who is the fastest track runner in the world, there you've it! Usain Bolt holds that record to date, and that will probably be unbeatable for several years to come!

2. Yohan Blake (100-m record: 9.69s)

Nicknamed 'The Beast' by Bolt, Yohan Bolt is the second-fastest man in the world and one of the greatest Jamaican sprinters of all time. He specializes in the 200-m and 100-m splints & currently holds the record for the 2nd fastest running time (9.69s) with Tyson Gay.

Blake rose to prominence in 2011 when he won gold medals in the 4 X 100-m relay and 100-m sprint at the World Championships. In 2012, he went ahead to win a gold medal at the Olympics in the 4 x 100-m relay. His team set the world record duration of 36.84s, which has not been broken to date.

In his sprinting career, Yohan Blake has bagged 3 bronze medals, 4 silvers, and 14 golds. He's still an active athlete to date and one of the highest-paid runners of all time, with a net worth of about $90 million.

3. Tyson Gay (100-m record: 9.69s)

Tyson Gay (100-m record: 9.69s); fastest male runner

Erik van Leeuwen (GFDL or GFDL), via Wikimedia Commons

Tyson Gay is one of the most famous American runners and the fastest non-Jamaican sprinter in the world, for that matter. He was born in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1982 and followed his grandmother's and mother's footsteps to become a professional sprinter.

In 2009, Tyson ran a 100-m race at a competition in China in 9.69. Therefore, his top running speed is the same as that of Jamaican athlete Yohan Blake, making him the 2nd fastest person in the world. The only reason I rank Tyson Gay behind Blake is that his sprint was wind-assisted.

However, he has some great accomplishments in the sprinting sport. He was the 1st athlete to complete the 400 m sprint in less than 45-min, 200 m in the 20s, and 100 m in 10s.

Another thing worth mentioning about Tyson Gay is that he won his 1st major championship (200-m race gold) in 2005 at the IAAF World Athletics. Also, he won another Gold in the same competition the following year. In 2006, he went ahead to win gold medals in the 4 x 100-m relay and 100-m race at the IAAF Continental Cup. However, his biggest success was in 2007 when he earned 3 gold medals at the World Championships.

In 2013, Tyson Gay was suspended from participating in any event from 2013 up to June 2014 after failing a drug test. Moreover, all of his results from July 2012 until his suspension was uplifted were stricken from the world history records. This included losing silver medals that he had won at the 2012 Olympics.

4. Asafa Powell (100-m record: 9.72s)

Asafa Powell (100-m record: 9.72s); Jamaican sprinter

Erik van Leeuwen (GFDL or GFDL), via Wikimedia Commons

Before Usain Bolt became the fastest male runner in the world, the 100m race world record was held by fellow Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell. Specifically, Asafa was the fastest runner between 2005 and 2008, completing the 100-m race in 9.77s. His best running speed was 9.72s in a 100-m dash in a competition that happened in Switzerland in September 2008.

The athlete also conquered the Diamond League twice for 100-m sprints in 2011 and 2016. Besides, he has had a successful career at the World Athletics Final, winning 1 silver medal and 5 gold medals. On the same note, he won a gold for the 4 X 100m relay race at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Another thing worth mentioning about Asafa Powell is that he frequently broke the 10-s barrier in competitions more than other athletes. As of 2016, he had broken the barrier 97 times!

5. Justin Gatlin (100-m record: 9.74s)

After completing a 100-m sprint in 9.45s to technically break Bolt's record, Justin Gatlin would have been the fastest man in the world today. However, he was denied that title because big wind turbines assisted him. Also, he experienced major setbacks in his career after testing positive for amphetamine. This saw him being suspended from international sports in 2001. He made history in 2004 after winning the 100-m race in 9.84s but was banned in 2006 for doping.

All in all, Justin Gatlin achieved great speeds in his sprinting career. More notably, his personal best was in 2015 at the Athletic Super Grand Prix in Qatar when he completed a 100-m sprint in 9.74s. This record has made him one of the fastest runners of all time to date.

Moreover, he reached 19.91s in the 200-m and 9.77s in the 100m-race in 2014. In 2004, he won gold in the 100-m race at the Olympics, completing the sprint in 9.84s. He won gold medals in Helsinki a year later at the World Championships in the 200m and 100m sprints. This made him the 2nd athlete in history to win gold medals in both events during the same World Championship. This 12-time World champion has five World Championship medals and five Olympic medals!

6. Christian Coleman (100-m record: 9.76s)

Christian Coleman (100-m record: 9.76s); fastest athletes

jenaragon94, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Aged 25 years, Christian Coleman is one of the fastest athletes today in the 100m- and 200m races. He is a 3-time world champion in the 100m sprint and even holds a record of completing the race in 9.76s.

He earned silver medals in the 4 X 100m relay and 100-m race at the 2017 World Athletics. Plus 2 gold medals for the 4 X 100M relay and 100m-race in the 2019 World Championships in Doha. In addition, he won a gold medal for the 60m race at the Birmingham World Indoor Championships for 6.34s. He holds a personal record for the 200m sprint in 19.85. 

Unfortunately, the American sprinter was banned until 2022 because of failed drug tests. And although the ban was uplifted in November last year, he will not be taking part in the Tokyo 2022 Olympics. Other than that, he's one of the fastest and wealthiest active runners in the world today!

7. Nesta Carter (100-m record: 9.78s)

Nesta Carter - 100m sprints; highest paid runners

Nesta Carter is a former Jamaican athlete who specialized in 100-m sprints. He's one of the fastest runners in world history, having hit the top speed of 9.78s in Riet, Italy, for the 100m race in 2010. Besides, he was part of the Jamaican 4 X 100M relay team that set consecutive records at the 2012 London Olympics and 2011 World Championships. And in 2013, Nesta won a bronze medal for the 100m race in Moscow at the World championships.

Unfortunately, the International Olympic Committee banned Nesta Carter from doping at the Beijing Olympics. A move that saw him, together with his 4 X 100M relay team, lose their gold medals. Nonetheless, Nesta commands a massive following online and is one of the most popular splinters on social media today.

8. Maurice Greene (100-m record: 9.79s)

Maurice Greene Sprinter; fastest running speed

During his early career years, Maurice Greene was the fastest racer in the world in five events. This included winning 5 Olympic medals & holding the 100m world record running speed at 9.79s.

Maurice's breakthrough in sprinting came in 1997 when he won the men's100m race at the World Championships held in Athens. Interestingly, this was just the beginning of his dominance over the 100m dash.

In 1999, Maurice set the world record for the 100m sprint with 9.84. This saw him beat the preceding record of 9.84s set by Donovan Bailey. It was considered the largest gap in world record history since introduced electronic timing in the sport. He went ahead to earn the 'world's fastest runner' title again in 2001 and won an Olympic gold medal in 2000. Also, he won the Golden Gala 4 times from 1999 - 2002 in the IAAF Golden League.

Currently, Maurice Greene retired from the sport in 2008, but he's still the 60m world record holder!

9. Steve Mullings (100-m record: 9.8s)

Steve Mullings; 10 fastest runners of all time

Although Steve Mullings never took part in the Olympics, he's one of the top 10 fastest runners globally. He was set to participate in the 2004 Summer Olympics but withdrew his qualification after testing positive for doping. 

In 2006, the former Jamaican sprinter returned into athletics after a 2-year ban, and by 2008 he had regained his form. He was part of the Jamaican 4 X 100m relay team that won a gold medal and even set a new personal best in the 200m race during that period. He achieved a gold medal in the World Championship held in Berlin in 2009. Moreover, he broke the 10s barrier in 2011 and achieved times of under 10s another 7 times. He achieved his 9.8s personal best performance for 100m sprint in 2011 in the US.

However, he tested positive for doping again in August 2011, ending his career abruptly after being banned from athletics for a lifetime.

10. Richard Thompson (100-m record: 9.82s)

Richard Thompson - 10th fastest runner; top 10 runners in the world

Nicknamed 'Torpedo,' Richard Thompson, who comes from Trinidad & Tobago, is the 10th fastest runner. Richard came into the limelight in the 2008 Beijing Olympics after coming 2nd behind Usain Bolt. Also, he won 2 more gold medals in CAC Championship and NACAC Championship during the 2007-8 season.

In 2011, he took part in the World Championships in South Korea, where he got sixth & tenth position for the 100m race. Richard hit his top running speed of 9.82s in 100m sprints in the 2014 Track & Field Championships, which has earned his spot on this list. Unfortunately, he couldn't run fast enough after that to maintain this pace—all in all. Richard Thompson won 2 bronze and 4 silver medals in his entire athletic career.

Final Word

That brings us to the end of the top 10 fastest sprinters in the world to date based on their 100-m dash records. Hopefully, this list will inspire you to achieve your fitness goals. Although not everyone can sprint as fast as Gay or Bolt, this information will be very helpful as you embark on your fitness journey.

FAQs

1. How fast is the fastest person?

Usain Bolt is the fastest runner in world history with 9.58s in the 100m sprint. His fastest speed, measured between meter 60 & meter 80 of the 100m sprint at the Athletics World Championships in 2009, was 27.78 miles/ hours (44.72 km/h).

2. Why are male sprinters faster than female runners?

Both female and male sprinters train equally hard, but only male athletes have broken the 10-s barrier. This is because male athletes have a biological advantage over their female counterparts regarding speed, bone density, lung capacity & stamina. For example, men produce more testosterone, giving them more muscle than women. These muscles strengthen their legs, helping male athletes run faster.

In addition, men are taller than women. As a result, they take longer strides, helping them cover a certain distance faster than female sprinters.

3. Which country has the fastest sprinters?

Over the years, Jamaica has been so dominant in the 100-m dash. The United States is in 2nd place, with their athletes exhibiting great performances in the track & field competition.

4. Who was the 100m world record holder before Usain Bolt?

Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell was the holder of the men's 100m world record before Bolt. Currently, Asafa holds the record for breaking the 10s barrier in a 100m race compared to other sprinters.

About the Author Treadmill Express plus

"Erik Brown" is the health and fitness author for treadmillexpressplus.com. He works with a team of committed experts to create detailed reviews and informative articles about health and fitness. For instance, he covers various fitness-related topics especially on workout equipment like treadmills, stationary bikes and more. If you want to make a wise decision when buying any training equipment, check out more of his unbiased articles."

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