The women’s Olympic 100m final will take place on this day in 2021 and we continue our one year to go series by reflecting on some of the event’s history

The women’s 100m final is the second individual track final on the programme for the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, with the race set to take place at 21:50 local time on Saturday July 31, 2021.

With exactly one year to go, we take a look back at past Olympic action


1928: 1 Elizabeth Robinson USA 12.2; 2 Fanny Rosenfeld CAN 12.3; 3 Ethel Smith CAN 12.3
1932: 1 Stanislawa Walasiewicz POL 11.9; 2 Hilda Strike CAN 11.9; 3 Wilhelmina Von Bremen USA 12.0
1936: 1 Helen Stephens USA 11.5; 2 Stanislawa Walasiewicz POL 11.7; 3 Kathe Krauss GER 11.9
1948: 1 Fanny Blankers-Koen NED 12.2; 2 Dorothy Manley GBR 12.4; 3 Shirley Strickland AUS 12.6
1952: 1 Marjorie Jackson AUS 11.67; 2 Daphne Hasenjager RSA 12.05; 3 Shirley Strickland AUS 12.12
1956: 1 Betty Cuthbert AUS 11.82; 2 Christa Stubnick GDR 11.92; 3 Marlene Matthews AUS 11.94
1960: 1 Wilma Rudolph USA 11.18; 2 Dorothy Hyman GBR 11.43; 3 Giuseppina Leone ITA 11.48
1964: 1 Wyomia Tyus USA 11.49; 2 Edith Maguire USA 11.62; 3 Ewa Klobukowska POL 11.64
1968: 1 Wyomia Tyus USA 11.08; 2 Barbara Ferrell USA 11.15; 3 Irena Szewinska POL 11.19
1972: 1 Renate Stecher GDR 11.07; 2 Raelene Boyle AUS 11.23; 3 Silvia Chivas CUB 11.24
1976: 1 Annegret Richter FRG 11.08; 2 Renate Stecher GDR 11.13; 3 Inge Helten FRG 11.17;
1980: 1 Lyudmila Kondratyeva URS 11.06; 2 Marlies Gohr GDR 11.07; 3 Ingrid Auerswald GDR 11.14;
1984: 1 Evelyn Ashford USA 10.97; 2 Alice Brown USA 11.13; 3 Merlene Ottey-Page JAM 11.16
1988: 1 Florence Griffith Joyner USA 10.54; 2 Evelyn Ashford USA 10.83; 3 Heike Drechsler GDR 10.85;
1992: 1 Gail Devers USA 10.82; 2 Julie Cuthbert JAM 10.83; 3 Irina Privalova EUN 10.84
1996: 1 Gail Devers USA 10.94; 2 Merlene Ottey JAM 10.94; 3 Gwen Torrence USA 10.96
2000: 1 (vacant due to Marion Jones DQ) 2 Katerina Thanou GRE 11.12/Tanya Lawrence JAM 11.18; 3 Merlene Ottey JAM 11.19
2004: 1 Yuliya Nesterenko BLR 10.93; 2 Lauryn Williams USA 10.96; 3 Veronica Campbell JAM 10.97
2008: 1 Shelly-Ann Fraser JAM 10.78; 2 Sherone Simpson JAM/Kerron Stewart JAM 10.98
2012: 1 Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce JAM 10.75; 2 Carmelita Jeter USA 10.78; 3 Veronica Campbell-Brown JAM 10.81
2016: 1 Elaine Thompson JAM 10.71; 2 Tori Bowie USA 10.83; 3 Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce JAM 10.86

Olympic record: 10.62 Florence Griffith-Joyner 1988

Multiple champions: Wyomia Tyus 1964/1968, Gail Devers 1992/1996, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce 2008/2012

Rio 2016

Although two-time champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was beaten, Elaine Thompson ensured the women’s Olympic 100m title remained with Jamaica as she upgraded from world 200m silver to Olympic 100m gold.

Clocking 10.71 to miss her PB by just 0.01, she beat USA’s Tori Bowie and ‘pocket rocket’ Fraser-Pryce, who clocked respective times of 10.83 and 10.86 for silver and bronze.

Most memorable

The Barcelona 100m in 1992 was notable as just six hundredths of a second covered the top five athletes.

Gail Devers was primarily thought of as a hurdler and was eliminated from the hurdles semi-finals in 1988. She then suffered from Graves Disease which cost her two and a half years of training prior to Barcelona.

Off to a quick start, Devers battled with Russian Irina Privalova most of the way and edged clear. Juliet Cuthbert, Gwen Torrence and Merlene Ottey all closed on the second half and Devers won in 10.82 from Cuthbert’s 10.83.

Privalova won the bronze in 10.84. Torrence ran 10.86 and caused bad feeling among the others by saying two of the top three were on drugs.

Ottey ran 10.88 and was only fifth. Torrence did go on to win the 200m in Barcelona from Cuthbert and Ottey in 21.81 after a 21.72 semi-final. Devers beat Ottey and Torrence narrowly again in the Atlanta 100m in 10.94.

Highlights 1928-2012

The 100m debuted in 1928 in Amsterdam and Betty Robinson, a 16-year-old high school girl, won in a world record-equalling 12.2. She had only started running in March that year and in her second race and first outdoor race she had broken the world record!

Polish-born Stanislawa Walasiewicz, who was the first athlete to break 11 seconds for 100 yards, grew up in the USA but chose to compete for Poland in Los Angeles in 1932. She equalled the world record in all three of her races and won narrowly in 11.9 from Canadian Hilda Strike who shared the world record time.

In 1948 in London the 200m was introduced into the Games and Fanny Blankers-Koen won a sprint double in 11.9 and 24.4 winning both races easily.

Wilma Rudolph, the 20th of her father’s 22 children, also gained a sprint double in Rome in 1960. The American equalled the world record of 11.3 in her semi and then ran a startling 11.0 with an illegal 2.7m/ sec wind.

Evelyn Ashford, fifth in 1976 but absent due to the boycott in 1980, returned as world record-holder in Los Angeles to win easily in 10.97.

Florence Griffith-Joyner was second in 1984 but looked a different athlete in 1988 at Seoul. She won the 100m by three metres from Ashford in a superb but windy 10.54, while her 10.62 from her heat remains the Olympic record.

There was a shock victory in the Athens 100m in 2004 for Belarus’s Yuliya Nesterenko, while Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser won the first of her titles in 2008.

At London 2012, the now married Fraser-Pryce retained the 100m title.

Click here for a more in-depth look at the history of the women’s 100m at the Olympic Games from 1928-2012 by Steve Smythe.

» Part of this feature was first published in AW magazine and online in 2016

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