The 400 m Hurdles are an Olympic athletics discipline. On a standard outdoor track 400 meters is the length of the inside lane once around the stadium. Runners stay in their lane the entire way after starting out of the blocks and must clear ten hurdles that are evenly, for each lane, spaced around the track. The hurdles are positioned so that they fall forward if bumped into to prevent injury to the runners. Although fallen hurdles don't count against them, runners like to clear them clean, as touching them during the race slows runners down.
The best male athletes can run the 400 m Hurdles in a time of around 47 seconds (world record: 46.78 seconds), which is the equivalent of 8.51 meters per second or 30.63 kilometers per hour. The best female athletes achieve a time of around 53 seconds (WR: 52.34 seconds), or 7.54 meters per second and 27.16 kilometers per hour. Compared to the 400 Meters the hurdles race takes the men about 3 seconds longer and the women 4 seconds longer.
At the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris, France, the 400 m Hurdles became an Olympic event. At the same time, the race was standardized so that virtually identical races could be held and the finish times compared to each other. As a result, the official distance was fixed to 400 meters, or once around the stadium, and the number of hurdles was reduced to 10. The official height of the hurdles was set to 91.4 cm (3 ft) for men and 76.20 cm (2 feet 6 inches) for women. The hurdles were now placed on the course with a run-up to the first hurdle of 45 meters, a distance between the hurdles of 35 meters each, and a home stretch from the last hurdle to the finish line of 40 meters.
Many athletic commentators and officials have often brought up the idea of lifting the height of the women's 400 m hurdles to incorporate a greater requirement of hurdling skill. This is a view held by German Athletic coach Norbert Stein "All this means that the women's hurdles for specialists, who are the target group to be dealt with in this discussion, is considerably depreciated in skill demands when compared to the men's hurdles. It should not be possible in the women's hurdles that the winner is an athlete whose performance in the flat sprint is demonstrably excellent but whose technique of hurdling is only moderate and whose anthropometric characteristics are not optimal. This was the case at the World Championships in Seville and the same problem can often be seen at international and national meetings."
The first documented 400 m Hurdles race for women took place in 1971. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) introduced the event officially as a discipline in 1974, although it was not run at the World Championships and the first female World Champion was not determined until the 1983 World Championships.
- First official IAAF world record: 55.0 seconds, Charles Bacon (USA), 1908
- First under 54 seconds: 53.8 seconds, Sten Pettersson (SWE), 1925
- First under 53 seconds: 52.6 seconds, Johnny Gibson (USA), 1927
- First under 52 seconds: 51.7 seconds, Bob Tisdall (IRL), 1932
- First under 51 seconds: 50.6 seconds, Glenn Hardin]] (USA), 1934
- First under 50 seconds: 49.5 seconds, Glenn Davis (USA), 1956
- First under 49 seconds: 48.8 seconds, Geoff Vanderstock (USA), 1968
- First under 48 seconds: 47.82 seconds, John Akii-Bua (UGA), 1972
- First under 47 seconds: 46.78 seconds, Kevin Young (USA), 1992 (this is the only time under 47 seconds)
- First official world record: 56.51 seconds, Krystyna Kacperczyk (POL), 1974
- First under 56 seconds: 55.74 seconds, Tatiana Storoscheva (USSR), 1977
- First under 55 seconds: 54.89 seconds, Tatiana Selenzova (USSR), 1978
- First under 54 seconds: 53.58 seconds, Margarita Ponomaryova (USSR), 1984
- First under 53 seconds: 52.94 seconds, Marina Stepanova (USSR), 1986
The 400m hurdles in Greece
- Yiannis Talianos
- Ioannis Skiadas
- Nikos Regoukos
- Giorgos Birbilis
- Stavros Tziortzis
- Giorgos Parris
- Thanasis Kaloyiannis
- Giorgos Vamvakas
- Minas Alozidis
- Periklis Iakovakis