One of the greatest athletes ever, Usain Bolt is popular by the nickname ‘Lightning Bolt’. He holds the world record for 100 metres, 200 metres and 4 × 100 metres relay and is the only sprinter to win Olympic 100 m and 200 m titles at three consecutive Olympics (2008, 2012 and 2016).
Jim Thorpe was an American athlete who was counted among the most versatile athletes of the modern era. Jim Thorpe won two gold medals at the 1912 Olympics and became the first Native American to give the United States an Olympic gold. He also played American football, professional baseball, and basketball. He was memorialized in the 1951 film Jim Thorpe – All-American.
A dominant sprinter and long jumper, Carl Lewis has won ten Olympic medals, nine of them gold. From 1981 to 1991, he topped the world rankings in the 100 m, 200 m and long jump events, slowly starting to lose his dominance thereafter, eventually retiring in 1997. Currently a businessperson, he has also appeared in films and television productions.
Five-time Olympic medalist and renowned sprinter Justin Gatlin is a specialist in the 100m and the 200m categories. In 2005, he became the first to win both the 100m and the 200m world titles. He was a childhood fan of Mike Tyson and had initially been a hurdler.
Yohan Blake is a Jamaican sprinter who became the youngest 100 meters world champion when he won a gold medal at the World Athletics Championships in 2011. He also won gold medals at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games as part of the Jamaican relay team. Yohan Blake is the second-fastest man in both 100 meters and 200 meters events.
Wayde van Niekerk is a South African athlete who competes as a sprinter in the 200 and 400 metres. He is the current Olympic and world record holder in the 400 metres. Wayde van Niekerk holds the world record in the 300 metres as well. He won the gold medal in the 400 metres event at the 2016 Olympic Games.
Ben Johnson is a Canadian retired sprinter who was adjudged the world's fastest man during the 1987–88 season after he broke the 60m and 100m indoor world records. He is best known for his performance in the 1984 Olympic Games, where he won two bronze medals. Ben Johnson also won a gold medal at the 1985 World Indoor Championships.
Ethiopian Olympic legend and businessman, Haile Gebrselassie, a retired long-distance, road and track running athlete, is counted among the greatest distance runners in history. He set 27 world records in athletics and broke 61 Ethiopian national records. His achievements include winning two Olympic gold medals, four World Championship titles, four World Indoor Championship titles and one World Half Marathon Championship.
Asafa Powell is a Jamaican sprinter who set the 100 metres world record on two occasions between 2005 and 2008. He achieved international prominence in 2016 when he won a gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Asafa Powell has also won a couple of gold medals at the World Championships.
Ethiopian marathon runner, Abebe Bikil,a became the first black African Olympic gold medalist at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. Four years later, he won his second gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. He created world record both the times. A pioneer in long-distance running, he participated in a total of 16 marathons.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest track and field athletes of all time, Jesse Owens' three world records in less than an hour in 1935 came to be known as the greatest 45 minutes ever in sports. He was credited with destroying Adolf Hitler's myth of Aryan supremacy when he won four gold medals at the 1936 Summer Olympics.
Bob Beamon is a former American track and field athlete who won the gold medal for the long jump at the 1968 Olympics. He created a world record in the process of winning the gold medal; the record was broken by Mike Powell almost 23 years later. Beamon was inducted into United States Olympic Hall of Fame.
Paavo Nurmi was a Finnish athlete who specialized in long-distance and middle-distance running. Nicknamed the Flying Finn, Nurmi dominated important distance running events in the early 20th century. He won nine gold medals and three silver medals across three Olympics in 1920, 1924, and 1928. Paavo Nurmi also set 22 official world records during his career.
Maurice Greene is a former track and field athlete and a former world record holder in 100-metre dash. Greene won four Olympic medals, including two gold medals, representing the United States of America in two Olympic Games. Maurice Greene also has five gold medals at the World Athletics Championships under his belt.
Dick Fosbury is an American former track and field athlete who specialized in the high jump. Widely regarded as one of the most influential athletes in track and field history, Fosbury revolutionized the high jump with a new technique which came to be known as the Fosbury Flop. Dick Fosbury also won the gold medal at the 1968 Olympics.
Linford Christie is a Jamaican-born British former sprinter who won gold medals in the 100 meters at the Olympic Games, the World Championships, the European Championships, and the Commonwealth Games. He is one of the most highly decorated British athletes of all time. He was awarded the BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1993.
John Carlos is a former football player and track and field athlete. Carlos won a bronze medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics. After his track career, he helped organize the 1984 Summer Olympics as part of his work with the United States Olympic Committee. In 2003, Carlos was made an inductee of the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame.
Hurdler Liu Xiang created history by becoming the first Chinese Olympic gold medalist in any men’s track-and-field event. While he excelled in high jump in his younger days, he deviated to hurdles by 15. He has also earned gold medals at the world championships and the Asian Games.
Born into an athletic family, Tyson Gay naturally developed an interest in sports. One of the fastest sprinters in both the 100m and the 200m categories, he was part of the 2016 Olympic relay team that was stripped of its medal for breaking game rules.
Apart from winning a gold at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, Steve Ovett also set six world records. He once ruled the middle-distance running scene. A talented footballer in his teens, he later chose athletics, since he wanted to pursue a sport that wouldn’t make him dependent on his teammates.
British middle-distance athlete and neurologist Sir Roger Gilbert Bannister was the first athlete to run a mile in less than four minutes. Before achieving such feat, Bannister set a British record in the 1500 metres during the 1952 Summer Olympics. In the medical field, Bannister became a neurologist and Master of Pembroke College, Oxford.
Lasse Virén is a Finnish retired athlete who specialized in long-distance running. He is best known for his performance in the 1972 and 1976 Olympic Games, where he won two gold medals at each Games. Lasse Virén is also known for winning a bronze medal at the 1974 European Championships in Rome.
Athlete and martial artist Jim Kelly won hearts with his Afro hairstyle and his roles in action film such as Enter the Dragon and Black Belt Jones. Apart from films, he also excelled in karate, winning contests such as the International Middle Weight Karate Championship. He has also played professional tennis.
Efren Reyes is a Filipino professional pool player who is regarded as the greatest player of all time. Nicknamed The Magician, Reyes is best known for his ability to display numerous trick shots. Efren Reyes has also won more than 100 international titles over the course of his illustrious career. Reyes is a WPA World Eight-ball and Nine-ball champion.
Armand Duplantis is a Swedish pole vaulter. He currently holds the world indoor record with a height of 6.18 meters. When he was 15 years old, Duplantis won a gold medal at the 2015 World Youth Championships. He then went on to win a gold medal at the 2018 European Championships and a silver medal at the 2019 World Championships.
Magnús Scheving is best known as the creator of the BAFTA-winning children’s series Lazy Town, which has its roots in Scheving’s first book and centers around children’s fitness. The Icelandic aerobic gymnastic champion is also a motivational speaker and has previously been a fitness trainer at a school.
Daley Thompson is a British former athlete who specialized in decathlon. He has won gol medals in decathlon at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics. He also broke the world record for decathlon on four occasions. He also won three Commonwealth titles and is regarded as the greatest decathlete ever.
Teemu Selänne is a Finnish retired ice hockey player who played as a winger. Dubbed the Finnish Flash, Teemu is the highest scoring player from Finland in the history of the National Hockey League (NHL). In 2017, he became only the second Finn after Jari Kurri to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Track and field sprinter Christian Coleman has two World Championship golds in his kitty. Born into a sports-oriented family, with his sister being a track and field athlete, he was naturally drawn toward sports. He was banned for missing his drug tests and, as a result, missed the Tokyo Olympics 2021.
Peter Norman was an Australian athlete who won a silver medal in the 200 meters event at the 1968 Summer Olympics. He is remembered for supporting fellow athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos by wearing the Olympic Project for Human Rights badge during their medal ceremony; he is the third athlete seen in the popular Olympics Black Power salute photograph.
Four-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson remains the only man to win both the 200m and the 400m events in the same Olympics. He was the Track & Field News 1996 Athlete of the Year. In 2008, he returned his 2000 Olympic relay medal, as a teammate had taken performance-enhancing drugs.
Colin Jackson is a Welsh former athlete who represented Wales and Great Britain during his career. Jackson, who specialized in hurdles, won the silver medal in the 110m hurdles at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. His world record for the 110m hurdles stood for more than ten years, while his world record for the 60m hurdles stood for almost 27 years.
Steve Cram is a British former athlete who dominated the middle-distance running event during the 1980s alongside other athletes like Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe. During the summer of 1985, Cram set world records in the mile run, 2000m, and 1500m during a 19-day period. He is the first person to run 1500m under three-and-a-half minutes.
Donovan Bailey is a retired Jamaican-Canadian sprinter. He once held the world record for the 100 meters and is considered the greatest Canadian sprinter of all time. Noted for his top speed, he became the first Canadian to legally break the 10-second barrier in the 100 meters. In 2004, he was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.
Jim Ryun is an American former track and field athlete who won a silver medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics. At the peak of his career, Ryun was considered one of the top middle-distance runners in the world. He later became a politician and served in the US House of Representatives. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2020.
Herb Elliott is a former Australian athlete considered the world's greatest middle-distance runner of his era. He won the gold medal in the 1500 meters at the 1960 Rome Olympics. He achieved 36 wins over this distance and never lost a mile race. Following his retirement from athletics, he built a successful career in business.
Alberto Salazar is an American former long-distance runner who won the silver medal at the 1982 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Rome, Italy. After his retirement from the sport, Salazar served as the head coach for the Nike Oregon Project and received the 2013 IAAF Coaching Achievement Award in Monaco. He was later banned for doping and sexual offenses.
Ron Clarke was an Australian athlete, politician, and writer. One of the most recognized middle and long-distance runners of the 1960s, Clarke is best remembered for setting 17 world records. He also won the bronze medal in the 10,000 meters event at the 1964 Summer Olympics. In 2000, Ron Clarke was honored with the prestigious Australian Sports Medal.
Russian star pole-vaulter Sergey Bubka had started training at age 9. He soared to fame after winning the world championship in Finland at age 15 and later became the first to jump 6.1m. He won the 1988 Seoul Olympic gold and shattered the global men’s pole vault record 35 times.
The great-grandson of English footballer Jock Rutherford, Greg Rutherford had a brief stint with Aston Villa football club before he focused on athletics. The Milton Keynes athlete won a gold at the 2012 London Olympics, while his 8.29m jump at the 2016 Rio Olympics won him a bronze medal.
Karsten Warholm is a Norwegian athlete who won the gold medal in the men's 400 meters hurdles event at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Apart from winning the gold medal, he also broke his own world record by finishing the race in 45.94 seconds. In 2021, Karsten Warholm won the prestigious World Male Athlete of the Year award.
Winner of the 1997 World Championship and the 1998 European Cup, British sprinter Iwan Thomas is the current UK 400m record holder, having run a time of 44.36s. He has also represented United Kingdom at the 1996 Olympic Games in the 400 metres. A popular television personality, he makes regular appearances on small screen, mostly as guest, panelist or presenter.