100 metres hurdles

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The 100 m hurdles are an Olympic track and field athletics discipline run by women. For the race ten hurdles of a height of 84 cm (2-3/4 feet) are placed evenly spaced along a straight course of 100 meters. They are positioned so that they will fall over if bumped into by the runner. Fallen hurdles don't count against runners so long as they don't run into them on purpose. Like the 100 meter sprint the 100 m hurdles is started out of the blocks.

For the 100 m hurdles the first hurdle is placed after a runup of 13 meters from the starting line. The next 9 hurdles are set at a distance of 8.50 meters from each other, and the home stretch from the last hurdle to the finish line is 10.50 meters long.

The Olympic Games had included the 80 m hurdles in the program from 1932 to 1968. Starting with the 1972 Summer Olympics the women's race was lengthened to 100 m hurdles.

The fastest 100 m hurdlers run the distance in a time of around 12.5 seconds. The world record stands at 12.21 seconds (as of February 2006) or the equivalent of 8 meters per second or 28.8 kilometers per hour. This is approximately 1.5 seconds slower than the straight 100 meter sprint race.


The hurdles sprint race has been run by women since the beginning of women's athletics, just after the end of World War I. The distances and hurdle heights varied widely in the beginning. While the men had zeroed in on the 110 m hurdles, the International Women's Sport Federation had registered records for eight different disciplines by 1926 (60 yards/75 cm height, 60 yards/61 cm, 65 yards/75 cm, 83 yards/75 cm, 100 yards/75 cm, 100 yards/61 cm, 120 yards/75 cm, 110 meters/75 cm). At the first Women's World Games in 1922 a 100 m hurdles race was run.

From 1926 until 1968 on only the 80 m distance was run. For the 80 m race women had to clear eight hurdles placed at a distance of 8 meters from each other and a height of 76.2 cm.

Just like with the men's races, until 1935 no more than three hurdles could be pushed over or the runner was disqualified and records were only officially registered if the runner had cleared all her hurdles clean. In 1935, at the same time this rule was abandoned, L-shaped hurdles were introduced that fell over forward easily and greatly reduced the risk of injury to the runner.

The 80 m hurdles was on the list of women's sports demanded by the International Women's Sport Federation for the Olympic Summer Games in 1928, but wasn't included as an Olympic discipline until 1932. Starting with 1949 the 80 m hurdles was one of the disciplines included in the women's Pentathlon.

During the 1960s some experimental races were run over a distance of 100 meters using hurdles with a height of 76.2cm. During the 1968 Summer Olympics a decision was made to introduce the 100 m hurdles using hurdles with a height of 84cm and the first international event in the 100 m hurdles occurred at the European Athletics Championships, which were won by Karin Balzer, GDR.

A summary of the 80 m hurdles as it compares to the 100 m hurdles:

Distance Number
of hurdles
Height Distance made up of
Runup Intervals Home stretch
80 m 8 76.2cm 12 m 8.0 m 12.0 m
100 m 10 84.0cm 13 m 8.5 m 10.5 m


80 m hurdles:

  • First official time: 13.0 seconds, Ludmila Sychrová, Czechoslovakia, July 6 1926 in Prague
  • First official world record: 12.8 seconds (12 4/5), Eva von Bredow, Germany, June 14 1927
  • First runner under 12 seconds: 11.8 seconds (11 4/5), Marjorie Clark, South Africa, May 24 1934
  • First runner under 11 seconds: 10.9 seconds, Shirley Strickland, Australia, July 24 1952
  • Last official world record: 10.2 seconds, Vera Korsakova, USSR, June 16 1968

100 m hurdles:

  • First official time registered with hurdles of reduced height (76.2cm): Pamela Kilborn, AUS, November 26 1961 in Newport
  • First official time with hurdles of standard height (84cm): 15.1 seconds, Connie Pettersson, USA, May 28 1966 in Kalispell
  • First official world record: 13.3 seconds, Karin Balzer, GDR, June 20 1969
  • First runner under 13 seconds: 12.9 seconds, Karin Balzer, GDR, September 5 1969
  • First runner under 12.5 seconds:
    • 12.3 seconds, Annelie Ehrhardt GDR, July 20 1973 (last manually timed world record; electronically timed at 12.68 seconds)
    • 12.48 seconds, Grażyna Rabsztyn, POL, June 10 1978
  • First runner under 12.3 seconds: 12.29 seconds, Yordanka Donkova BUL, August 17 1986

Most successful athletes

  • Shirley Strickland (AUS): two Olympic victories, 1952 and 1956 in the 80 m hurdles
  • Gail Devers (USA): three world championships, 1993, 1995, 1999, as well as runner-up at the 1991 and 2001 world championships

80 m hurdles medalists at Olympic Games

Year Gold Silver Bronze
1932 Mildred Didrikson (USA) Evelyne Hall (USA) Marjorie Clark (RSA)
1936 Trebisonda Valla (ITA) Anni Steuer (GER) Elizabeth Taylor (CAN)
1948 Fanny Blankers-Koen (NED) Maureen Gardner (GBR) Shirley Strickland (AUS)
1952 Shirley Strickland (AUS) Maria Golubnitschaya (USSR) Maria Sander (FRG)
1956 Shirley Strickland (AUS) Gisela Köhler (GDR) Norma Thrower (AUS)
1960 Irina Press (USSR) Carole Quinton (GBR) Gisela Birkemeyer (GDR)
1964 Karin Balzer (GDR) Teresa Ciepły (POL) Pam Kilborn (AUS)
1968 Maureen Caird (AUS) Pam Kilborn (AUS) Chi Cheng (TPE)

100 m hurdles medalists at Olympic Games

Year Gold SilVer Bronze
1972 Annelie Ehrhardt (GDR) Valeria Bufanu (ROM) Karin Balzer (GDR)
1976 Johanna Schaller (GDR) Tatyana Anisimova (USSR) Natalja Lebedjewa (USSR)
1980 Wera Komissowa (USSR) Johanna Klier (GDR) Lucyna Langer (POL)
1984 Benita Fitzgerald-Brown (USA) Shirley Strong (GBR) Michèle Chardonnet (FRA)
Kim Turner (USA)
1988 Yordanka Donkova (BUL) Gloria Siebert (GDR) Claudia Zaczkiewicz (FRG)
1992 Voula Patoulidou (GRE) LaVonna Martin (USA) Yordanka Donkova (BUL)
1996 Ludmila Engquist (SWE) Brigita Bukovec (SLO) Patricia Girard-Léno (FRA)
2000 Olga Shishigina (KAZ) Glory Alozie (ESP) Melissa Morrison (USA)
2004 Joanna Hayes (USA) Olena Krasovska (UKR) Melissa Morrison (USA)

100 m hurdles medalists at world championships

Year Gold Silver Bronze
1983 Bettine Jahn (GDR) Kerstin Knabe (GDR) Ginka Zagorcheva (BUL)
1987 Ginka Zagorcheva (BUL) Gloria Uibel (GDR) Cornelia Oschkenat (GDR)
1991 Ludmila Narozhilenko (USSR) Gail Devers-Roberts (USA) Natalja Grigorjewa (USSR)
1993 Gail Devers (USA) Marina Asjabina (RUS) Lynda Tolbert (USA)
1995 Gail Devers (USA) Olga Schischigina (KAZ) Julia Graudyn (RUS)
1997 Ludmilla Engquist (SWE) Svetla Dimitrova (BUL) Michelle Freeman (JAM)
1999 Gail Devers (USA) Glory Alozie (ESP) Ludmilla Engqvist (SWE)
2001 Anjanette Kirkland (USA) Gail Devers (USA) Olga Shishigina (KAZ)
2003 Perdita Felicien (CAN) Brigede Foster (JAM) Miesha McKelvy (USA)
2005 Michelle Perry (USA) Dolloreen Ennis London (JAM) Brigitte Foster Hylton (JAM)

History of world records

Time Athlete Nation Date Place
Electronically timed
12.21 s Yordanka Donkova BUL August 21 1988 Stara Zagora
12.25 s Ginka Zagorcheva BUL August 8 1987 Drama
12.26 s Yordanka Donkova BUL September 7 1986 Ljubljana
12.29 s Yordanka Donkova BUL August 17 1986 Cologne
12.34 s Yordanka Donkova BUL August 17 1986 Cologne
12.36 s Grażyna Rabsztyn POL June 12 1980 Warsaw
12.36 s Yordanka Donkova BUL August 13 1986 Sofia
12.48 s Grażyna Rabsztyn POL June 10 1978 Fürth
12.48 s Grażyna Rabsztyn POL June 18 1979 Warsaw
12.59 s Annelie Ehrhardt GDR September 8 1972 Munich
Manually timed
12.3 s Annelie Ehrhardt GDR July 22 1973 Dresden
12.5 s Annelie Ehrhardt GDR June 15 1972 Potsdam
12.5 s Pamela Ryan AUS June 28 1972 Warsaw
12.6 s Karin Balzer GDR July 31 1971 Berlin
12.7 s Karin Balzer GDR July 25 1971 Berlin
12.7 s Karin Balzer GDR July 26 1970 Berlin
12.7 s Teresa Sukniewicz POL September 20 1970 Warsaw
12.8 s Chi Cheng TPE July 12 1970 Munich
12.8 s Teresa Sukniewicz POL June 20 1970 Warsaw
12.9 s Karin Balzer GDR September 5 1969 Berlin
13.0 s Karin Balzer GDR July 27 1969 Leipzig
13.3 s Karin Balzer GDR June 20 1969 Warsaw
13.3 s Teresa Sukniewicz POL June 20 1969 Warsaw

All-time Top Ten

In brackets: Wind in m/s

  1. 12.21 (+0.7) Yordanka Donkova, BUL, Stara Sagora, August 20 1988
  2. 12.25 (+1.4) Ginka Zagorcheva, BUL, Drama, August 8 1987
  3. 12.26 (+1.7) Ludmila Engquist, RUS, Sevilla, June 6 1992
  4. 12.33 (−0.3) Gail Devers, USA, Sacramento, July 23 2000
  5. 12.36 (+1.9) Grażyna Rabsztyn, POL, Warsaw, June 13 1980
  6. 12.37 (+1.5) Joanna Hayes, USA, Athens, August 24 2004
  7. 12.39 (+1.5) Vera Komissowa, USSR, Rome, August 5 1980
  8. 12.39 (+1.8) Natalja Grigorjewa, UKR, Kiev, July 11 1991
  9. 12.42 (+1.8) Bettine Jahn, GDR, Berlin, June 8 1983
  10. 12.42 (+2.0) Anjanette Kirkland, USA, Edmonton, August 11 2001

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