Women's World Records

World records for each women's track and field event recognized by the IAAF.

Format
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Rosenbaum, Mike. "Women's World Records." ThoughtCo, Aug. 20, 2015, thoughtco.com/womens-world-records-3259435. Rosenbaum, Mike. (2015, August 20). Women's World Records. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/womens-world-records-3259435 Rosenbaum, Mike. "Women's World Records." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/womens-world-records-3259435 (accessed September 26, 2017).
Women's Track & Field world records, as recognized by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
01
of 32

100 Meters

Sep 1988: Florence Griffith-Joyner of the USA in action at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. Griffith-Joyner won gold medals in the 100 and 200 Metres events.
Tony Duffy/Allsport/Getty Images

Florence Griffith-Joyner, USA, 10.49. When Griffith-Joyner set her record in the 100, at the U.S. Olympic trials in 1988, the track's wind meter showed that runners received wind assistance in other events. But the meter showed that Griffith-Joyner, nicknamed "Flo-Jo," received none in the 100, causing some to suggest that the meter was temporarily malfunctioning. Nevertheless, Griffith-Joyner's mark is recognized by the IAAF as the 100-meter standard.

02
of 32

200 Meters

griffith-joyner---tony-duffy.jpg
Flo-Jo won four medals - three gold and one silver - during the 1988 Olympics, during which she set the 200-meter world record. Tony Duffy/Getty Images
Florence Griffith-Joyner, USA, 21.34. Griffith-Joyner set her mark at the 1988 Olympics. She broke the 200-meter world record twice in Seoul, winning her semifinal heat in 21.56 seconds - beating the former record by .15 - then shattering her own mark in the final.
03
of 32

400 Meters

Marita Koch, East Germany, 47.60. The 400 meter record-holder, Marita Koch of East Germany never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, but she was suspected due to her country's since-revealed doping program. Koch retired prior to 1989, when stricter drug testing began. She set her mark in 1985 at the IAAF World Cup in Australia.
04
of 32

800 Meters

Jarmila Kratochvilova of the Czech Republic (then still part of Czechoslovakia) set the 800 world record almost by accident. Her time of 1:53.28, set on July 26, 1983, is currently the longest-standing individual track and field record. She originally traveled to the Munich, Germany event only to tune up for the forthcoming world championships, and only to run in her specialty, the 400. She switched to the 800 after suffering leg cramps that, she felt, would make it difficult for her to run the shorter sprint race.
05
of 32

1,000 Meters

In a two-month span in 1996, Russian Svetlana Masterkova won two Olympic Gold medals – in the 800 and 1500 – then set two world records that continue to stand. She established the 1000-meter record (2:28.98) in Brussels, Belgium on Aug. 23.
06
of 32

1500 Meters

Genzebe Dibaba broke the 22-year-old 1500-meter record in 2015. Julian Finney/Getty Images

Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia set four indoor world records in 2014-15, and then set her first outdoor world mark by breaking the 1500-meter record on July 17, 2015, at the Herculis meet in Monaco. Dibaba's time of 3:50.07 shaved more than one-third of a second from the previous mark. Running behind a pacemaker for two laps, Dibaba posted times of 1:00.31 for 400 meters and 2:04.52 for 800. She completed three laps in 2:50.3 and sprinted to the finish to set the new standard.

Previous record: Chinese runners dominated many middle- and long-distance events in the 90s, led by several competitors trained by legendary coach Ma Zunren. Two of those runners, Yunxia Qu and Wang Junxia, both shattered the women’s 1500-meter record in a meet held in Beijing on Sept. 11, 1993, with Qu winning the race in 3:50.46, taking two seconds off the previous mark.

07
of 32

One Mile

Svetlana Masterkova of Russia set the world record in her first-ever mile run, with a time of 4:12.56 at a meet in Zurich, Switzerland on Aug. 14, 1996.

Read more about Masterkova's record-breaking run.

08
of 32

2000 Meters

Best known for her accomplishments in the 5000, Ireland’s Sonia O’Sullivan dominated several shorter events in 1994 and 1995. She set the 2000-meter record in Edinburgh on July, 8, 1994, with a time of 5:25.36.
09
of 32

3000 Meters

On Sept. 13, 1993, during the Chinese National Games, Junxia Wang reduced the 3000-meter record by 16.5 seconds, winning the event in 8:06.11.
10
of 32

5000 Meters

tirunesh-dibaba---michael-steele.jpg
Tirunesh Dibaba celebrates her world-record effort in 2006. Michael Steele/Getty Images

Tirunesh Dibaba finished strong to set the 5000-meter mark of 14:11.15 during an IAAF meet in Oslo, Norway on June 6, 2008. Taking aim at the record, the Ethiopian followed the pacesetter through 3000 meters in 8:38.38, three seconds behind the record pace. Dibaba's older sister Ejegayehu helped pace Tirunesh for about the next 600 meters. The younger Dibaba then ran the final lap in just under 1:04.

Read more about Tirunesh Dibaba.

11
of 32

10,000 Meters

In a remarkable five-day span in 1993, China’s Wang Junxia set a pair of records that have stood for more than 14 years apiece, in the 3000 and 10,000. On Sept. 8, during the Chinese National Games, Wang slashed 42 seconds off the 10,000-meter record with a time of 29:31.78.
12
of 32

Steeplechase

Russia’s Gulnara Samitova-Galkina made the first-ever Olympic women’s steeplechase a memorable race by breaking her own world record, winning in 8:58.81 on Aug. 17, 2008. Her previous mark of 9:01.59 was set in 2004. Samitova-Galkina led the Beijing race from the start, pulling away with three laps remaining and beating runner-up Eunice Jepkorir by 8.6 seconds.
13
of 32

100-Meter Hurdles

Yordanka Donkova, Bulgaria, 12.21. Donkova first set the 100-meter world record in 1986, then beat her own record twice before losing the mark to fellow Bulgaria native Ginka Zagorcheva in 1987. Donkova earned the record back in 1988 at the Stara Zagora event.
14
of 32

400-Meter Hurdles

Yuliya Pechonkina, Russia, 52.34. Pechonkina remains a competitive hurdler, though she's battled injuries in recent years. She set the 400-meter record in 2003 when she won the Russian championships, beating American Kim Batten's eight-year-old mark of 52.61.
15
of 32

10-Kilometer Race Walk

Nadezhda Ryashkina, Russia, 41:56.23

16
of 32

20-Kilometer Race Walk

Liu Hong - shown here at the 2012 Olympics - broke the 20km race walking record in 2015. Feng Li/Getty Images

Liu Hong, China, 1:24:38. A consistent top-five performer at previous Olympics and World Championships, Liu set the women's race walking record at the Gran Premio Cantones de Marcha event at La Coruna, Spain on June 6, 2015. In the first half of the race, Liu posted consistent 1000-meter splits in the 4:20 range to cross the 10km mark in 42:39. She increased her pace and reached 15km in 1:03:41. Despite being unchallenged, she continued to speed up over the final 5km, with 1000-meter splits as low as 4:05, to gain the record. Her time for the second 10 km was 41:59.

17
of 32

Marathon

Great Britain's Paula Radcliffe led from start to finish at the Flora London Marathon on April 13, 2003. She finished almost a mile ahead of her nearest competitor and topped her own world record by close to two minutes, finishing in 2:15.25. She was assisted by male pacesetters, the fastest of whom was targeting a 2:16 time. She had a bit of trouble setting a consistent early pace, running her fastest in the third mile (4:57) and her slowest in mile six (5:22), before settling into her record-shattering pace.

Read more about Paula Radcliffe.

18
of 32

4 x 100-Meter Relay

The victorious U.S. relay team celebrates its 2012 Olympic gold medal. From left: Allyson Felix, Carmelita Jeter, Bianca Knight, Tianna Madison. Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images
United States (Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight, Carmelita Jeter), 40.82. The U.S. earned a gold medal in the 2012 Olympic final, run on Aug. 10, shattering East Germany's former record of 41.37 seconds. Madison, running the first leg against 2012's 100-meter gold medalist, Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, gave the U.S. a slight lead, and each runner extended the margin further.
19
of 32

4 x 200-Meter Relay

United States (LaTasha Jenkins, LaTasha Colander-Richardson, Nanceen Perry, Marion Jones), 1:27.46. The Americans set their mark at the Penn Relays on April 29, 2000.

20
of 32

4 x 400-Meter Relay

USSR (Tatyana Ledovskaya, Olga Nazarova, Maria Pinigina, Olga Bryzgina), 3:15.17. In an exciting Olympic final on Oct. 1, 1988, the Soviet quartet edged the United States by 0.34 seconds. Both squads finished below the former world mark, set by East Germany in 1984. The winning anchor, Bryzgina, also won the individual 400-meter gold medal in 1988.

21
of 32

4 x 800-Meter Relay

USSR (Nadezhda Olizarenko, Lyubov Gurina, Lyudmila Borisova, Irina Podyalovskaya), 7:50.17. The winning squad edged another Soviet quartet, who finished just 1.45 seconds behind, in a Moscow meet on Aug. 15, 1984.

22
of 32

High Jump

Stefka Kostadinova tied fellow Bulgarian Ludmila Andonova's record of 2.07 meters on May 25, 1986, then broke the mark six days later with a leap of 2.08. She set the current record at the World Championships in Rome on Aug. 30, 1987, despite an inauspicious start, having missed her first qualifying jump at 1.91 meters (6 feet, 3¼ inch) on the initial day of competition. The following day she employed a speedier approach to out-jump her competition, all of whom dropped out by the time Kostadinova asked that the bar be raised to 2.09 (6 feet, 10¼ inches). She missed her first two attempts but cleared the bar on her final try.
23
of 32

Pole Vault

yelena-isinbayeva-WR-paul-gilham.jpg
Yelena Isinbayeva clears a world-record 5.06 meters in 2009. Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Russian Yelena Isinbaeva had an unusual 2009 season. She set an indoor world mark - which was later broken - in February of that year, leaping 5.00 meters (16 feet, 4¾ inches). She then had a sub-par outdoor season and shockingly no-heighted at the World Championships before rebounding by leaping a record 5.06 meters (16 feet, 7¼ inches) in Zurich on Aug. 28. Isinbayeva entered the competition by clearing 4.71/15-5½. She clinched the meet victory by clearing 4.81/15-9¼, then had the bar moved to 5.06, which she cleared on her first try.

24
of 32

Long Jump

The women's long jump record was broken four times from 1976-78 then another six times from 1982 to 1988. Galina Chistyakova of the former Soviet Union tied the mark, then held by Heike Drechsler and Jackie Joyner-Kersee, of 7.45 meters at a meet in Leningrad on June 11, 1988, then Chistyakova promptly beat it at the same meet with a jump of 7.52 meters (24 feet, 8¼ inches).
25
of 32

Triple Jump

Inessa Kravets, Ukraine, 15.50 meters (50 feet, 10¼ inches).
26
of 32

Shot Put

Natalya Lisovskaya, Russia, 22.63 meters (74 feet, 3 inches).

27
of 32

Discus Throw

Gabriele Reinsch, Germany, 76.80 meters (252 feet). It took awhile before Gabriele Reinsch found her niche in sports. She began as a high jumper before moving on to throwing events - first the shot put, then the discus. On July 9, 1998 during an East Germany-Italy meet in Neubrandenburg, East Germany, Reinsch’s first throw sailed 76.80 meters, breaking Zdenka Silhava’s old mark of 74.56/244-7. East Germany’s Martina Hellmann threw 78.14/256-4 later in 1988, but the attempt occurred during an unofficial meet and was not eligible for world record consideration.

28
of 32

Hammer Throw

Anita Wlodarczyk, Poland, 79.58 meters (261 feet, 1 inch). Wlodarcyzk set her third world record in the same Berlin stadium in which she'd set her first in 2009. The Polish thrower set her latest mark on August 31, 2014, on her second throw at the ISTAF meet.

Read more about Anita Wlodarczyk

Previous record:

Betty Heidler, Germany, 79.42 meters (260-6). Heidler had established her previous personal best of 77.12/253-0 at the 2009 World Championships, only to finish second behind Wlodarczyk's world record throw of 77.96/255-9. After Wlodarczyk improved her mark to 78.30/256-10 in 2010, Heidler turned the tables with her third-round toss during a meet in Halle, Germany on May 21, 2011.

Read more about Betty Heidler.

29
of 32

Javelin Throw

Barbora Spotakova, Czech Republic, 72.28 meters (237 feet, 1 inch). Barbora Spotakova was a former heptathlete who began specializing in the javelin at the urging of her countryman, three-time Olympic javelin gold medal winner Jan Zelezny. A strong starter throughout her career, Spotakova established the women's world mark with a throw measuring 72.28 meters on her first attempt at the World Athletics Final in Stuttgart, Germany on Sept. 13, 2008.

30
of 32

Heptathlon

Jackie Joyner-Kersee, USA, 7,291 points.  Joyner-Kersee first broke the world heptathlon record in 1986, scoring 7,148 points to beat East German Sabine John’s mark by 202 points. Joyner-Kersee improved her record the next month, then again in 1988, bringing the mark up to 7, 215 entering the 1988 Olympics.

In Seoul, Joyner-Kersee opened better than all the top contenders with a time of 12.69 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles, then cleared 1.86 meters (6 feet, 1¼ inches) in the high jump. She closed the first day by throwing the shot 15.80/51-10 and running the 200 in 22.56 seconds. Joyner-Kersee began day two with her best event, the long jump, leaping 7.27/23-10¼, an Olympic heptathlon record. She then scored her lowest point total for any event, 776, by throwing the javelin 45.66/149-9, leaving her behind the world record pace. But she more than made up for that in the final event, the 800-meter run, finishing five seconds faster than necessary, with a time of 2:08.51. She won the long jump gold medal five days later with an Olympic record leap measuring 7.40/24-3¼.

31
of 32

Decathlon

Austra Skujyte, Lithuania, 8,358 points.

32
of 32

4 x 1500-Meter Relay

hellen-obiri-4-x-1500-christian-petersen.jpg
Hellen Obiri crosses the line with a new 4 x 1500-meter relay world record. Christian Petersen/Getty Images

 Kenya (Mercy Cherono, Faith Kipyegon, Irene Jelagat, Hellen Obiri), 16: 33.58. Kenya won the first IAAF World Relays 4 x 1500-meter relay title on May 24, 2014, while shattering the old world mark of 17:05.72 set Kenya earlier that year. The Kenyans opened a huge lead midway through the race, then anchor runner Obiri closed with a 4:06.9 split to secure the victory, and the record.