One of the big discussions buzzing around the World Athletics Championship is who gets to wear the title of the fastest man and woman alive? Conversations online got heated after the US team clinched victory in the women’s 100-meter finals. Sha’carri Richardson blazed through the track in 10.65 seconds, setting a new championships record. The American media had a field day, identifying her as the fastest woman alive and this sparked a clash among track and field fans online. Jamaicans online were quick to point out that Jamaican sprinter Elaine Thompson Herah holds the crown of the fastest woman sprinter alive, clocking a jaw-dropping 10.54 seconds for the 100-meter dash. The only other woman to run a faster time in the history of the short distance event is the late Florence Griffith-Joyner in 10.49 seconds.
Now, to sort through the whirlwind of opinions, we asked a few seasoned sports analysts – how should we determine the criteria for crowning the fastest man and woman alive? This is what they said.
Fabian Lyon, Senior Sports Journalist:
Clocking the world’s fastest time in the event and winning the most prestigious medal – OLYMPIC gold at least 2 times would be the criteria.
Carole Beckford, Senior Public Relations, Marketing and Sports Management Consultant:
Track and field has used the 100 meters as that measure over the years, but because of competition – each sprint up to 800 meters now has that claim. The 100 meters is still the marquee event and is used as a benchmark. USA and Jamaica have been back and forth with this from as far back as 1952. it won’t change anytime soon. I think the rivalry is great for the sport. 100, 200, 400, 800, and to some extent 1500 meters are all sprint events and deserve their share of the excitement.
Nick Ford, Jamaicans.com Senior Sports Contributor:
I think that traditionally the fastest man or woman in the world is defined by the 100 meter sprint race. That said, being a World Champion or Olympic Champion at that distance is crowned as the fastest man or woman in the world. However, another view may be who has the standing world record. For example, Usain Bolt’s 9.58 seconds in the 100 meter race in 2011 still stands, so he’s said to be the fastest man alive. So long story short, I think that there can be a few different criteria.
Michael Grant, Senior Sports Journalist:
Athletes in the 100 meters are usually given the honor of fastest humans. Since the race involve various internal phases, world records and MPH clocking can be used to determine the fastest person. The 4×100-meter relay often produces segments that are the fastest 100 meters, but cannot be used for this ranking. Relay legs are imprecise because of the baton-passing zone and athlete’s running starts over the second to fourth legs. The fastest human, therefore, would come from individuals running the flat race, the only ones who have run sub-10.70 seconds for men and sub-9.74 by men:
- Elaine Thompson-Herah (Jamaica) 10.54 sec.
- Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Jamaica) 10.60
- Shericka Jackson (Jamaica) 10.65
- Marion Jones ( USA) 10.65
- Sha’Carri Richardson (USA) 10.65
- Carmelita Jeter ( USA) 10.67
- Usain Bolt (Jamaica) 9.58 sec.)
- Tyson Gay (USA) 9.69
- Yohan Blake (Jamaica) 9.69
- Asafa Powell (Jamaica) 9.72
- Justin Gatlin (USA) 9.74
All achieved under wind-legal conditions, i.e. with greater than 2. 0 meters per second following wind.
Richard Blackford, Jamaicans.com Senior Sports Contributor:
I believe that this title has to take into consideration, the following measurements:
1) The top time recorded over a 24 -36 month period
2) The accumulation of top ten times recorded within the same period, regardless of who comprised the competition at those meeting times.