Anthropometric Measurements of 100m Olympic Champions

The Olympic Games brings together the best athletes in the world. Studying the changes in anthropometric measurements of Olympic champions can demonstrate how athletes have changed over 100 years of sport.

Reggie Walker, the 100m champion from 1908 Reggie Walker, the 100m champion from 1908
(Height 1.70 m / 5' 61⁄2", Weight 61 kg / 134 lb)

Anthropometric Measures of Olympic Champions

Here is a table of the height, weight and body mass index (BMI) of the male Olympic 100m champions for every Olympiad. Graphs presented below show how these measures have changed over time. Generally, the winning sprinters have become taller and heavier.

Year Winner Time (secs) Height Weight BMI
1896 Tom Burke (USA) 12 1.83 m / 6 ft 0 in 66 kg / 146 lb 19.7
1900 Frank Jarvis (USA) 11 1.67 m / 5 ft 5 1⁄2 in 58 kg / 128 lb 20.8
1904 Archie Hahn (USA) 11 1.67 m / 5 ft 5 1⁄2 in 64 kg / 141 lb 22.9
1908 Reggie Walker (SAF) 10.8 1.70 m / 5 ft 6 1⁄2 in 61 kg / 134 lb 21.1
1912 Ralph Craig (USA) 10.8 1.82 m / 6 ft 0 in 73 kg / 161 lb 22.0
1920 Charles Paddock (USA) 10.8 1.71 m / 5 ft 7 1⁄2 in 75 kg / 165 lb 25.6
1924 Harold Abrahams (GBR) 10.6 1.83 m / 6 ft 0 in 75 kg / 165 lb 22.4
1928 Percy Williams (CAN) 10.8 1.70 m / 5 ft 7 in 56 kg / 123 lb 19.4
1932 Eddie Tolan (USA) 10.38 1.70 m / 5 ft 7 in 65 kg / 143 lb 22.5
1936 Jesse Owens (USA) 10.3 1.80 m / 5 ft 10 3⁄4 in 75 kg / 165 lb 23.1
1948 Harrison Dillard (USA) 10.3 1.78 m / 5 ft 10 in 69 kg / 152 lb 21.8
1952 Lindy Remigino (USA) 10.4 1.73 m / 5 ft 8 in 67 kg / 148 lb 22.4
1956 Bobby Morrow (USA) 10.5 1.86 m / 6 ft 1 in 75 kg / 165 lb 24.2
1960 Armin Hary (GER) 10.2 1.82 m / 6 ft 0 in 71 kg / 157 lb 21.4
1964 Bob Hayes (USA) 10 1.80 m / 5 ft 11 in 84 kg / 185 lb 25.9
1968 Jim Hines (USA) 9.95 1.83 m / 6 ft 0 in 81 kg / 179 lb 24.2
1972 Valeriy Borzov (URS) 10.14 1.83 m / 6 ft 0 in 80 kg / 176 lbs 23.9
1976 Hasely Crawford (TRI) 10.06 1.87 m / 6 ft 1.5 in 90 kg / 198 lbs 25.7
1980 Allan Wells (GBR) 10.25 1.83 m / 6 ft 0 in 86 kg / 190 lbs 25.7
1984 Carl Lewis (USA) 9.99 1.88 m / 6 ft 2 in 80 kg / 180 lb 22.6
1988 Carl Lewis (USA) 9.92 1.88 m / 6 ft 2 in 80 kg / 180 lb 22.6
1992 Linford Christie (GBR) 9.96 1.88 m / 6 ft 2 in 92 kg / 203 lb 26.0
1996 Donovan Bailey (CAN) 9.84 1.85 m / 6 ft 1 in 91 kg / 201 lb 26.6
2000 Maurice Greene (USA) 9.87 1.76 m / 5 ft 9 in 75 kg / 165 lb 24.2
2004 Justin Gatlin (USA) 9.85 1.85 m / 6 ft 1 in 83 kg / 183 lb 24.3
2008 Usain Bolt (JAM) 9.69 1.95 m / 6 ft 5 in 94 kg / 207 lb 24.7
2012 Usain Bolt (JAM) 9.63 1.95 m / 6 ft 5 in 94 kg / 207 lb 24.7

source: height and weight data was collected from Wikipedia profiles of each athlete, and when none was available, from the sports-reference.com website.

Height changes over time

The height of the Olympic 100m champion has generally increased since the first Olympic Games. The first winner Tom Burke was 1.83 m (6 ft) though 6 out of the next 8 winners were 1.71cm or lower. The tallest is the current champion Usain Bolt at 1.95m (6 ft 5 in).

height of Olympic 100m champions

Weight changes over time

The weight of the Olympic 100m champion has generally increased since the first Olympic Games, from around 60-70 kg (130-154 lb) in the early Olympic years up to 94 kg (207 lb) Usain Bolt.

weight of Olympic 100m champions

BMI changes over time

The BMI of the Olympic 100m champion has generally increased over time. As the BMI reflects the ratio of weight to height, an increasing BMI indicates that body weight has increased to a greater extent than height. Body fat would not be expected to be higher in the modern sprinter (the opposite is probably true), so this increase in weight is probably explained by a greater muscle mass of the current sprinters.

BMI of Olympic 100m champions
Note: This analysis is for illustrative purposes only. The data was from different sources, and may also not accurately represent their measurements at the time of their race.

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