Olympic Track and Field Throughout History

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Usain Bolt's Dominance

Over the course of his career, usain bolt has...

  • Received gold in the 100m and 200m in three consecutive Olympics - in 2008, 2012, and 2016
  • Won the 200m by a 0.66 second margin - the largest in Olympic history
  • Earned 8 Olympic and 11 World Championship gold medals

But This Raises Some Questions...

  • Why is it that people like Bolt are breaking records?
  • Will he always be the fastest man to ever run the 100M?
  • Or will his record inevitably be shattered?

A Little More on Track and Field

Before answering questions like the ones raised about Bolt, it's important to know a bit about track and field. Time to take a deeper dive into the sport! With 44 events between men and women, track and field dominates the Olympics. Not only do track and field competitors make up the largest share of athletes at the games, but they also vie for the most medals of any sport. Events span a wide array of skill sets — from running fast to throwing far. Millions of eyes tune in to watch the best athletes in the world run, jump, and throw every four years. It truly is a centerpiece of the Olympics!

Read on for more on Track and Field events

Track and Field Events

Click on an event to learn more about it!

Countries and their Medals

Explore the treemap below showing how many track and field medals each country has won. Click on the rectangles to get a more detailed view for that country.

Olympic track and field records keep getting broken

Host: Greece
Men's Records Set: 12
Women's Record Set: 0
Standing Olympic Records:

But Why Is this the Case?

As seen in the dashboard above, nearly all current Olympic records have been set in the past 40 years, with most of them coming in the last 20. Additionally, this improvement is seen across all types of track and field events — throwing, jumping, sprinting, long-distance. Naturally, this begs the question: "why?" Why are people throwing further, running faster, and jumping higher than they were in years past? What could be the driving factors for this improvement? Click through the following reasons to find out why.

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Potential Reasons

Our Team

Nick Lauer

B.A. in Applied Mathematics, '23

Danielle Kelly

B.A. in Applied Mathematics, '23

Rohan Sheth

B.A. in Applied Mathematics, '23

We would like to thank the teaching staff of CS 171 for instructing us and guiding us in our project. Special thanks to our TF, Ethan McFarlin!