200m World Records

As for the 100m sprint, the 200m world record has improved significantly over time as track surfaces and running shoe design has improved, as well as the positive impact of advanced training methods and sports science research.

Early world records for the sprint events used only hand timing, which was generally only accurate to one-tenth of a second. Currently, photo finish technology enables the sprint times to be measured to 1/1000th of a second.

The men's world record holder is Usain Bolt of Jamaica, who ran 19.19 seconds at the 2009 World Championships. The women's world record holder is Florence Griffith-Joyner of the USA, who ran 21.34 s at the 1988 Summer Olympics.



The 200m race times can be affected by the wind, and any time that is recorded with an excess tailwind will not be considered a world record. Records set at altitude as also included, even though the thinner air is an advantage in this event. Before electronic timing was invented and became standard, record times were recorded using hand-held stopwatches. Race records from events over 220 yards (201.17 m) were also included with the 200m times. In earlier times, some 200m races were run in a straight line rather than the first 100m around a bend, though all recent records are for races on a standard oval outdoor track.

Men's 200m World Record Progression

The 200m World Record has had this progression (the more recent records are listed first).

Time (seconds) Athlete Nation Date
19.19 Usain Bolt  Jamaica August 20, 2009
19.30 Usain Bolt  Jamaica August 20, 2008
19.32 Michael Johnson  USA August 1, 1996
19.66 Michael Johnson  USA June 23, 1996
19.72 (at altitude) Pietro Mennea  Italy September 12, 1979
19.83 (at altitude) Tommie Smith  USA October 16, 1968
19.8 (200 yards) Don Quarrie Jamaica June 7, 1975
19.8  (at altitude) Don Quarrie Jamaica August 3, 1971
19.8  (at altitude) Tommie Smith USA October 16, 1968
20.0 (200 yards) Tommie Smith USA June 11, 1966
20.2 (200 yards) Henry Carr USA April 4, 1964
20.3 (200 yards) Henry Carr USA March 23, 1963
20.5 (200 yards) Paul Drayton USA June 23, 1962
20.5 Livio Berruti Italy September 3, 1960
20.5 Livio Berruti Italy September 3, 1960
20.5 Ray Norton USA July 2, 1960
20.5 Stone Johnson USA July 2, 1960
20.5 (200 yards) Peter Radford UK May 28, 1960
20.6 Ray Norton USA April 30, 1960
20.6 (200 yards) Ray Norton USA March 19, 1960
20.6 Manfred Germar West Germany October 1, 1958
20.6 Bobby Morrow USA November 27, 1956
20.6 Thane Baker USA June 23, 1956
20.6 Andy Stanfield USA June 28, 1952
20.6 (200 yards) Andy Stanfield USA May 26, 1951

Women's 200m World Record Progression

The women's 200m World Record has had this evolution (the more recent records are listed first).

Time (seconds) Athlete Nationality Date
21.34 Florence Griffith-Joyner  USA September 29, 1988
21.56 Florence Griffith-Joyner  USA September 29, 1988
21.71 Heike Drechsler  East Germany August 29, 1986
21.71 Heike Drechsler  East Germany June 29, 1986
21.71 Marita Koch  East Germany July 21, 1984
21.71 Marita Koch  East Germany June 10, 1979
22.02 Marita Koch  East Germany June 3, 1979
22.06 Marita Koch  East Germany May 28, 1978
22.21 Irena Szewińska  Poland June 13, 1974
22.1 Irena Szewińska  Poland June 13, 1974
22.1 Renate Stecher  East Germany July 21, 1973
22.4 Renate Stecher  East Germany September 7, 1972
22.4 Chi Cheng  Taiwan July 12, 1970
22.5  (at altitude) Irena Szewińska  Poland October 18, 1968
22.7 Irena Szewińska  Poland August 8, 1965
22.9 (200 yards) Margaret Burvill  Australia February 22, 1964
22.9 Wilma Rudolph  USA July 9, 1960
23.2 (200 yards) Betty Cuthbert  Australia March 7, 1960
23.2 Betty Cuthbert  Australia September 16, 1956
23.4 Marjorie Jackson  Australia July 25, 1952
23.6 Marjorie Jackson  Australia July 25, 1952
23.6 Stanislawa Walasiewicz  Poland August 4, 1935
24.6 Tollien Schuurman  Netherlands August 13, 1933
25.4 Eileen Edwards  UK June 12, 1927
26 Eileen Edwards  UK October 3, 1926
26.2 (200 yards) Eileen Edwards  UK August 20, 1924
26.8 (200 yards) Mary Lines  UK September 23, 1922
27.8+ Alice Cast  UK August 20, 1922


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