When Karsten Warholm clocked 46.70 at his home meet in Oslo last July, it was the end of his long quest to break an almost three-decades old world record and cement his status as the fastest 400m hurdler in athletics history.
The astonishing performance also made him the seventh athlete ever to break a world record in a major discipline on the Wanda Diamond League circuit. As we look forward to another season of world-class performances in 2022, here’s a look back at every single Wanda Diamond League world record to date.
US hurdler Aries Merritt became the first world-record breaker in the Diamond League when he stormed to a historic 12.80 in the men’s 110m hurdles in Brussels. The performance also secured him his first and only Diamond Trophy.
Genzebe Dibaba – Monaco 2015
Genzebe Dibaba was crowned 1500m world champion in Beijing in 2015, but she had already made it to the top of the world a few weeks earlier with a breathtaking 3:50.07 at the Stade Louis II. The dominant victory made her the series’ second world-record breaker, and the first of many at the Monaco Diamond League.
Kendra Harrison – London 2016
Having suffered heartbreak at the US Olympic trials earlier that year, Kendra Harrison was a woman on a mission in the 2016 Diamond League as she stormed to victory after victory in the 100m hurdles. She crowned an impressive, title-winning season with a world record of 12.20 in London, a performance which left even her gaping in disbelief at the clock.
Beatrice Chepkoech – Monaco 2018
Kenyan long-distance specialist Beatrice Chepkoech was in brilliant form in 2018, and she made it count in Monaco, clocking a 3000m steeplechase world record of 8:44.32, becoming the fifth athlete to break a world record at Herculis and the second after Dibaba to do so in the Diamond League era.
Sifan Hassan – Monaco 2019
Dutch star Sifan Hassan had a twinkle in her eye when she was asked about a potential world record ahead of the Monaco Diamond League in 2019, and that proved a prelude to her glittering performance on the track. Her 4:12.33 made her the fastest female miler in history, and gave her another boost on her way to a Diamond League double in that season.
Joshua Cheptegei – Monaco 2020
In a season truncated by the coronavirus pandemic, there was the only men’s 5000m race in 2020, but what a race it was. Monaco completed a hat-trick of world-record breaking years, as Ugandan long-distance star Joshua Cheptegei clocked to 12:35.36 to break the 5000m best for the first time since 2004.
Karsten Warholm – Oslo 2021
Warholm had been closing in on the 400m hurdles world record for several seasons when he finally broke it with 46.70 on his home track in Oslo last summer. He went one better at the Olympic final in Tokyo a few weeks later, becoming the first hurdler ever to break the 46-second barrier.
Note: Three world records were also broken in non-Diamond League disciplines at the Wanda Diamond League exhibition event in Brussels in September 2020: Bashir Abdi in the 20,000m, and Mo Farah and Sifan Hassan in the One Hour.
From Athing Mu and Karsten Warholm on the track, to Peres Jepchirchir and Des Linden on the roads, these runs kept us on the edges of our seats.
After a year of race cancellations in 2020 because of COVID-19, in-person competition returned in a big way in 2021—and with it came a slew of historic performances.
The Tokyo Olympics this summer featured a number of world records and exciting podium finishes. Collegians broke through during their full season comeback to set records and mix it up with pros. And the World Marathon Majors returned with all six races scheduled within 42 days of each other, paving the way for some unprecedented accomplishments in the fall.
With a year’s worth of competition to reflect on, the Runner’s World editors picked 10 races that stood out from the rest. Here are the performances that put us on the edge of our seats in 2021.
Sydney McLaughlin Breaks the World Record—Twice
This year, Sydney McLaughlin solidified herself as the greatest 400-meter hurdler of all time. The then-21-year-old kicked off the championship portion of her season by winning the final at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in 51.90, shattering the world record set by fellow Team USA standout Dalilah Muhammad at the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar.
In Tokyo, McLaughlin won Olympic gold in 51.46, improving on her world record.
Allyson Felix celebrates winning her 11th Olympic medal.
Allyson Felix becomes the most decorated track star in U.S. history
In her fifth Olympic Games, Allyson Felix clocked two stunning performances. The first was in the women’s 400-meter final when the champion sprinter earned bronze in 49.46, her 10th Olympic medal. The podium finish made her the most decorated female Olympian in track and field, and she passed Merlene Ottey and tied Carl Lewis, who has 10, as the most decorated American athlete in track and field.
Days later, Felix passed Lewis in the record books when she contributed to Team USA’s gold medal in the 4×400-meter relay. With a 49.38-second second lap, Felix maintained the lead for the Americans, who ultimately won in 3:16.85—a time less than two seconds off the world record of 3:15.17.
Karsten Warholm goes into Hulk mode after setting the world record
A few weeks after breaking the previous world record in the men’s 400-meter hurdles, Karsten Warholm shattered the time again by winning Olympic gold in 45.94. The Norwegian came out on top in an all-out sprint to the finish against Team USA’s Rai Benjamin to claim his first Olympic medal and improve on the previous record of 46.70 set in Oslo in July.
Warholm’s performance in Tokyo marked the first time in history that an athlete has run under the 46-second barrier in the 400-meter hurdles. His celebration was also a major highlight; after seeing his time, the 25-year-old was overcome with emotion and ripped apart his jersey.
Molly Seidel takes bronze in the Olympic marathon
In her third 26.2 ever, Molly Seidel became the third American in history and the first since 2004 to earn a podium spot at the Olympic Games. During the marathon in Sapporo, the Notre Dame graduate put in a hard surge with 5K remaining to finish third in 2:27:46.
The breakthrough performance was the latest in a series of successes at the distance. Seidel made her marathon debut at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, where she finished second to make her first Olympic team. In October 2020, she lowered her personal best to 2:25:13 at the London Marathon.
Three months after Tokyo, Seidel improved still by finishing fourth at the New York City Marathon in 2:24:42, bettering the American course record set by Kara Goucher in 2008.
Teenager Athing Mu becomes first American since 1968 to win Olympic gold in the 800 meters
Capping off a season that rewrote the record books, Athing Mu led the women’s 800-meter final wire-to-wire to win Olympic gold. In the process of clocking 1:55.21 in Tokyo, the 19-year-old became the first American gold medalist in the event since Madeline Manning Mims in 1968. She also lowered her own American record.
As a freshman at Texas A&M, she set collegiate records in the 400 and 800 meters before winning two NCAA outdoor titles and later turning pro. The Tokyo Games was Mu’s first open international competition.
Eliud Kipchoge repeats as Olympic champion with huge winning margin
After pulling away from the pack at mile 19, Eliud Kipchoge cruised to victory for the second time to repeat as champion in the men’s marathon at the Olympic Games. In Sapporo, the world record-holder from Kenya finished in 2:08:38, 1:20 ahead of silver medalist Abdi Nageeye of the Netherlands. His winning margin is the biggest since Frank Shorter won the 1972 Olympic marathon.
Peres Jepchirchir wins back-to-back marathons
Just 13 weeks after winning the Olympic women’s marathon, Peres Jepchirchir won the New York City Marathon and became the first person since Shorter in 1972 to earn Olympic gold and then come to a major fall marathon and win again.
The Kenyan finished in 2:27:20 on a sweltering day in Sapporo on August 7, besting world record-holder and countrywoman Brigid Kosgei. On November 7, the two-time half marathon world champion fought off competitors Viola (Lagat) Cheptoo and Ababel Yeshaneh on the final stretch to secure another victory in Central Park. She covered the New York City course in 2:22:39.
Jacob Kiplimo breaks the half marathon world record
On November 21, Jacob Kiplimo lowered the world record by winning the Lisbon Half Marathon in 57:31, a 4:23/mile pace. The Olympic bronze medalist from Uganda improved on the previous world record of 57:32 set by Kibiwott Kandie at the Valencia Half Marathon in December 2020.
Kiplimo raced a mostly solo effort, breaking away from the competition just after 3K, and blazed through the 15K in 40:27—the fastest time ever recorded for the distance. He slowed down slightly in the later stages but held on just enough to dip under the record.
Des Linden sets the 50K record
A little over a year after finishing an agonizing fourth place at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, Des Linden set her sights on a thrilling new challenge: The 50K world record.
On April 13, on a deserted bike path outside of Eugene, Oregon, the two-time Olympian covered 50K (31.06 miles) in 2:59:54, more than seven minutes faster than the previous record of 3:07:20, set by British ultrarunner Aly Dixon in 2019. Linden averaged 5:47/mile pace to set the new record.
Two collegians make the Olympic team in the men’s 1500 meters
The men’s 1500-meter final at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials was a nail-biter, with plenty of exciting buildup to set the stage for an upset and a rivalry.
During the NCAA regular season, then-Oregon runners Cooper Teare and Cole Hocker broke the NCAA indoor mile record by running 3:50.39 and 3:50.55, respectively, on February 12 in Arkansas. In May, Notre Dame runner Yared Nuguse broke the collegiate record in the 1500 meters by clocking a solo 3:34.68 in the first round of the ACC Outdoor Track and Field Championships. In June, Nuguse and Hocker faced off at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, where Hocker out-kicked Nuguse. The middle-distance stars met again two weeks later as only two collegians in the 1500-meter final at the Trials in Eugene, Oregon.
With an all-out sprint down the homestretch, Hocker won the national title in 3:35:28, beating 2016 Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz, who finished second. Nuguse secured his place on the Olympic team by placing third, but he withdrew from the Games with a quad strain.
When World Athletics chief Sebastian Coe began his review of the year by highlighting “some jaw-dropping performances” he perfectly encapsulated the sport’s current paradox – people are stunned by what they are seeing, but not necessarily impressed.
For decades, huge world records were often greeted with a weary assumption of doping but many of today’s even bigger leaps are the result of “performance-enhancing technology”.
The dropping of the jaw is all-too often accompanied by the shaking of the head as a succession of astounding performances on track and road have left fans utterly discombobulated.
Illustrating the issue perfectly was the men’s Olympic 400 metre hurdles final in Tokyo this year, widely acclaimed as one of the greatest races in history.
American Kevin Young’s world record of 46.78 seconds had stood for 29 years before Norway’s Karsten Warholm finally nibbled eight hundredths off it in Oslo in July.
In Tokyo, Warholm scorched an incredible 45.94 seconds, while American Rai Benjamin and Brazilian Alison do Santos were also inside Youngs’ mark that had been untouchable for almost three decades.
As sceptics reacted not with adulation but with questions about the seemingly obvious impact of the new carbon-plated, thick-soled spikes and the “energy-returning” Tokyo track, Benjamin hit back by saying he could have done it in any shoes.
“No one will do what we just did,” he said. “Kevin Young, Edwin Moses (who broke the world record four times and won two Olympic golds in a 10 year run of 122 consecutive race wins), respect to those guys, but they cannot run what we just ran.”
It was a similar story, albeit with smaller margins, in the women’s event where Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad ran inside McLaughlin’s pre-Games world record and almost a second faster than the mark set by Russian Yuliya Pechonkina in 2003 that stood for 16 years.
Of course, times have always got faster and technical innovations have helped, but the leaps being seen now are, in the words of Warholm himself, “taking credibility away from our sport” as he bizarrely criticised Benjamin’s carbon shoes for having thicker soles than his own.
One of the other highlights of the Tokyo Olympic programme was Jamaican Elaine Thompson-Herah’s unprecedented retention of both 100m and 200m titles as, also aided by carbon spikes, she edged within touching distance of the extraordinary and hugely dubious times set by the late Florence Griffith Joyner in 1988.
It is a similar story on the roads, where World Athletics’ 2020 shoe design rules must be one of the greatest examples of closing the stable door after the horse has not only bolted but disappeared over the hills.
Records continue to tumble at all levels and this year has seen almost two minutes wiped off the women’s half-marathon world record, in three massive bites.
Coe says it is pointless now trying to place these seemingly stupendous performances in historical context and, in the case of the two 400m hurdles races, for example, he is surely right that fans should sit back and just appreciate the stunning head-to-head showdowns on the biggest stage of all.
However, perhaps the most uplifting event of the athletics year did not feature a record, or an outright winner, as Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar and Italian Gianmarco Tamberi found themselves locked together after three fails at 2.39 metres in the Olympic high jump final.
Barshim asked an official: “Can we have two golds?” and when he said “yes”, and both men erupted in joy, it was truly one of the great Olympic moments.
Norwegian Karsten Warholm and Jamaican Elaine Thompson-Herah were named World Athletics Athletes of the Year on Wednesday 1 December in Monaco, France.
Warholm won the men’s award beating a strong field that included fellow Olympic gold medalists Eliud Kipchoge from Kenya, Joshua Cheptegei from Uganda, Ryan Crouser from USA and Mondo Duplantis from Sweden.
Warholm broke twice what was the longest-standing world record among men’s track races set by American Kevin Young, who went 46.78 in the 1992 Olympic final. Warholm lowered it to 46.70 on July 1, then to 45.94 in the Tokyo Olympic final.
In the Olympic run alone, Warholm took 1.6 percent off the world record, just shy of Michael Johnson‘s 1.7 percent drop in the 1996 Olympic 200m final.
Warholm is the first Norwegian man to take this award.
Thompson-Herah also thrashed a strong field that included Sifan Hassan from Netherlands, Faith Kipyegon from Kenya, Sydney McLaughlin from USA and Yulimar Rojas from Venezuela.
She became the first woman to win 100m, 200m and 4x100m golds at one Olympics since Florence Griffith Joyner in 1988.
Thompson-Herah also clocked the second-fastest 100m and 200m times in history (10.54, 21.53), trailing only Griffith Joyner’s world records.
Two times Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge and Olympic 5000m champion Joshua Cheptegei have sailed through to the finals of the World Athletics’ Male Athlete of the Year award that will be held on December 1.
Kipchoge became the first man since 1980 to successfully defend his Olympic marathon title, and his time of 2 hours 8min 38sec gave him a winning margin of 80 seconds – the biggest at the Games since 1972.
Sweden’s Mondo Duplantis still has a chance at winning the award for the second year running. He achieved Olympic, Diamond League and European indoor titles in the pole vault. Karsten Warholm from Norway is the other finalist, having twice broken the 400m hurdles world record set by American Kevin Young that had stood for more than 28 years.
Also on the battle for the prestigious award is the undefeated American shot putter Ryan Crouser.
The shocker of the night is Norway’s Tokyo 2020 and European Indoor 1500m gold medallist Jakob Ingebrigtsen who failed to make the cut for not gaining enough votes.
World Athletics revealed last month the initial shortlist of 10 Olympic champions last month, and a three-way voting process reduced the number to half.
The World Athletics Council’s votes are 50 per cent of the result, with the World Athletics Family and public votes both holding 25 per cent.
The Italian Olympic movement is furious over the exclusion of sprinter Marcell Jacobs from the nominees list for male athlete of the year by World Athletics, with a senior official calling it “a lack of respect” and “profoundly wrong.”
The sport’s governing body announced a list of 10 nominees for the prestigious award but found no room for the only man to win two golds on the track at the Tokyo Olympics. Jacobs was the surprise Olympic champion in the 100 metres – the signature event of track and field – and also helped Italy to gold in the 4×100 relay.
“It’s profoundly wrong,” Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malagò said Friday, a day after the nominees were announced. “We’re very upset.”
Italian high jumper Gianmarco Tamberi, who tied for Olympic gold with Mutaz Barshim in his event moments before Jacobs won the 100, also failed to make the cut. Malagò said the omissions amount to “a lack of respect toward our two athletes.”
The 10 nominees are Joshua Cheptegei, Ryan Crouser, Mondo Duplantis, Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Eliud Kipchoge, Pedro Pichardo, Daniel Stahl, Miltiadis Tentoglou, Damian Warner and Karsten Warholm. The nominees were selected by an international panel of athletics experts, comprising representatives from all six continental areas of World Athletics. The winner will be announced in December.
Jacobs, also won the 60 meters at the European Indoor championships in March, did not compete after the Olympics, when he withdrew from his remaining Diamond League events to recover from a knee injury. “As always, the World Athletics Awards will recognise athletes who have performed at the highest level across the year, taking into account not only the Olympic Games, but the one-day meeting circuits,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said.
With 10 days until the Golden Tracks award ceremony takes place in Lausanne, Switzerland on 16 October, we can announce the three finalists for the men’s and women’s European Athlete of the Year.
The shortlist includes both the 2019 European Athletes of the Year Mariya Lasitskene and Karsten Warholm, both of whom won gold medals at the Tokyo Olympic Games and trophies in the Diamond League final in Zurich.
The shortlist was determined by a four-part voting process which incorporates votes from fans across social media, Member Federations, media and an expert European Athletics panel. Each section constituted 25 percent of the vote.
Sifan Hassan (The Netherlands)
Sifan Hassan almost pulled off the unthinkable feat of winning three individual gold medals at the same Olympics. Hassan won the 5000m and 10,000m titles but the Dutchwoman came up narrowly short in the 1500m, settling for bronze behind Faith Kipyegon and Laura Muir.
Hassan’s pre-Olympic campaign was highlighted by a world 10,000m record of 29:06.82 in Hengelo – a mark which was beaten on the same track only two days later by Letesenbet Gidey – and while her exploits in Tokyo had understandably caught up her, the seemingly indefitagle Hassan still finished her season with a flourish.
After winning over 5000m in Eugene, Hassan ran one of the fastest mile times in history in Brussels with 4:14.74 before finishing a close second to Kipyegon over 1500m in the Diamond League final in Zurich.
Mariya Lasitskene (Authorised Neutral Athlete / Russia)
Mariya Lasitskene has won multiple world and European titles both indoors and outdoors but an Olympic medal was conspicuously absent from her collection.
Still a junior at the time of the 2012 Olympics, Lasitskene missed out on selection for London and the blanket ban on Russian athletes meant Lasitskene was absent from the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Troubled by a knee injury all season, Lasitskene only qualified for the final by virtue of a third-time clearance at 1.95m but the Russian showed her immense competitive mettle by clearing season’s best of 2.02m and then 2.04m to seal the title.
Lasitskene, who was the 2019 European Athlete of the Year, then went on to clear 2.05m in the Diamond League final in Zurich. Will she become just the second athlete after Dafne Schippers (2014-15) to win the award in back-to-back editions?
Anita Wlodarczyk (Poland)
Like Lasitskene, Anita Wlodarczyk was on the comeback trail from injury but the seasoned campaigner had timed her peak to perfection.
The world record-holder created history at the Olympic Games in Tokyo by becoming the first female athlete to win three successive gold medals in the same event, clinching a third gold medal in the hammer with a winning mark of 78.48m – her best mark in three years.
Armand Duplantis (Sweden)
His world record of 6.18m remains just beyond his reach for now but Armand Duplantis achieved a record for consistency at the highest level, clearing six metres or higher in no fewer than 12 competitions indoors and outdoors.
His indoor season was highlighted by a 6.10m clearance in Belgrade, a precursor to another title at the European Indoor Championships in Torun where he cleared 6.05m to take ownership of the championship record in the arena in which he broke the world record for the first time in 2020.
Duplantis suffered two unexpected losses outdoors but the American-based Swede won every significant competition including gold at the Olympic Games with 6.02m and the Diamond League final in Zurich with 6.06m.
Duplantis has previously been a winner at the Golden Tracks. He was named joint men’s Rising Star in 2018 alongside Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen following their incredible exploits at the European Athletics Championships in Berlin.
Lamont Marcell Jacobs (Italy)
The men’s sprinting scene was thrust wide open this season and the vastly improving Lamont Marcell Jacobs duly filled this void with two scintillating performances in the 100m at the Tokyo Olympics.
Having broken the 10 second-barrier ahead of Tokyo, Jacobs eclipsed the European record with a 9.83 clocking in the semifinal before storming to gold in the final in 9.80. Further success came at the end of the championships as Jacobs ran the second leg of Italy’s gold medal-winning team in the 4x100m.
Jacobs gave notice of what was to come this summer by dominating the 60m at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Torun where he won gold in a world lead of 6.47. He also caught the attention of eagle-eyed track fans with a scintillating 8.91 split at the World Relays in Silesia.
Karsten Warholm (Norway)
Karsten Warholm raced lightly in 2021 but his performances were of a stratospheric standard.
Warholm clinched the world record from Kevin Young, appropriately on home soil at the Bislett Games in Oslo with 46.70 but the Norwegian tore his record asunder at the Olympic Games in Tokyo where he broke through the 46 second-barrier with 45.94 – a respectable time even for the 400m flat!
For the third successive season, Warholm enjoyed an unbeaten campaign in the 400m hurdles. He also took notable wins in Monaco and Berlin as well as in Zurich at the Diamond League final.
At 25, Warholm is one of the few athletes to have won both the Rising Star award and the men’s European Athlete of the Year award. Will he win again in Lausanne?
Karsten Warholm began his outdoor season by smashing his world best in the 300m hurdles in Oslo and the unstoppable Norwegian concluded his season by equalling the world lead in the 300m at the Trond Mohn Games in Bergen on Saturday (18), the last World Athletics Continental Tour Bronze meeting of the season in Europe.
Warholm raced to an unopposed victory in 32.49 to match the world lead which was held by Patrik Sorm from the Czech Republic. His time shaved two-tenths from his Norwegian best although Warholm did run faster during the indoor season, stopping the clock at 32.47 in February.
This was a precursor to Warholm’s best season to date in the 400m hurdles. He finished the year unbeaten in the event for the third year in succession and he took the world record into hitherto uncharted territory with 46.70 in Monaco and then 45.94 at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Other highlights from a Norwegian standpoint included Olympic silver medallist Eivind Henriksen winning the hammer with 76.38m and Hedda Hynne winning the rarely-run 600m in 1:26.98 ahead of her Nordic rival Lovisa Lindh from Sweden in 1:27.57.
Simon Hansen from Denmark from a 100/200m double in 10.42/20.71 and Poland’s Klaudia Siciarz concluded her season with victory in the 100m hurdles in 13.02.