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And the records just keep on coming

ESPN staff
February 11, 2014
Heide Rosendahl in the long jump in 1972 © Getty Images

Which athlete held a world record for the shortest amount of time? asked Doug Josephs

Multi-discipline events like the decathlon offer the possibility of one person holding the world record for a split-second, before someone else, who has amassed more points earlier in the event, crosses the line in the final discipline.

For example, in the 1972 Olympic women's pentathlon, silver medallist Heide Rosendahl held the world record for 1.12 seconds - the time by which she beat the gold medallist Mary Peters in the 200m, the pentathlon's final event at the time.

Peters' performances in the other disciplines gave her the record once she'd finished. It happened again in the pentathlon at Moscow in 1980, when all three medallists broke the old record. In the final discipline - now the 800m - Olga Kuragina (the eventual bronze medallist), finished 1.2 seconds ahead of Olga Rukavishnikova (silver) - and she was just 0.4 seconds ahead of Nadezhda Tkachenko, who ended up with the new world record, and the gold medal.

I realise that you probably didn't mean this strict interpretation. More conventionally, in Rome in August 1984 Thierry Vigneron set a new pole-vault best, only for the serial record-breaker Sergey Bubka to smash it again a few minutes later.

And in the rarefied air of Mexico City in 1968, the existing world record was broken five times during the men's triple jump. Italy's Giuseppe Gentile broke the old mark with 17.10 metres in qualifying, then improved his new record to 17.22m with his first jump in the final the following day.

Viktor Saneyev of Russia just beat that with 17.23 in the third round, then the Brazilian Nelson Prudencio went even better with 17.27 in the fifth. But Saneyev wasn't finished, leaping 17.39 with his sixth and final jump to grab the world record back again - and secure the first of his three triple-jump gold medals.

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