• April 23, 2024
  • Last Update April 23, 2024 10:40 PM
  • Nairobi

Athletics, Football records that may never be broken


By Peter Ochieng

The most popular sport in the world has remained a major debatable topic. With questions such as what makes one sporting discipline popular over another remaining unresolved, it is not easy to say, for example, that tennis is the most popular sport in the world.  

However, there is little doubt that football and athletics are among the most popular sports in the world, owing to massive following in various countries, especially during world championships.

Over the years, various records have been set in the two sports, with the possibility of not getting broken any time soon or ever. Let us start with athletics:

1. Kelvin Kiptum’s marathon record

We start at home, because as they say, ‘home sweet home.’ The late Kelvin Kiptum is the only man to run in under 2 hours, 1 minute in an official 42-kilometre marathon race. Kiptum set the 2:00:35 record during the Chicago marathon in 2023.

Before his untimely death through a road accident on 11th February 2024, Kiptum had reportedly set his eyes on running a marathon in under 2 hours. Unfortunately, he never lived to achieve the target. Before Kiptum, veteran marathoner Eliud Kipchoge held the marathon record of 2:01:09 set during the Berlin marathon in 2022.

With the 37-year-old Kipchoge fast approaching his sunset years in marathon, and with Kiptum out of the picture, breaking the 2:00:35 record may be a herculean task, going into the future.

2. Usain Bolt’s 100m, 200m records

The Jamaican is probably the best sprinter to have ever taken to an athletics track. The 2009 World Athletics Championships in Berlin, German, gave birth to the Lighting Bolt, when he set fastest times ever recorded in both the 100 metres and 200 metres.

Bolt clocked 9.58 seconds in the 100 metres, and 19:19 in the 200m sprint.  The closest anyone has ever come to his 100m record was Tyson Gay’s and Yohan Blake’s 9.69 seconds in 2009 and 2012, respectively.

3. Jarmila Kratochvílová’s 800m record

The Czechoslovak’s record of 1:53:28 in the 800 metres has stood the taste of time since 1983. Only Kenya’s Pamela Jelimo (1:54:01) and South Africa’s Caster Semenya (1:54:25) have come close to her record.

4. Faith Kipyegon’s 1500 and 5000m records

Back home. Faith Kipyegon got the party started at the third meeting of the season on June 02, 2024. The Kenyan distance star had been getting closer to the 1500m world record for several years, and it came as no surprise when she finally broke it at the Pietro Mennea Golden Gala. “I ran like a crazy woman,” she joked after clocking 3:49.11 to beat Genzebe Dibaba’s previous mark, set at the Monaco Diamond League in 2015.

Few expected Kipyegon to break the 5000m in Paris a few weeks later. She said before the race that she felt tired, and looked as shocked as anyone as she crossed the line in 14:05.20 at the Stade Charlety to break a second world record in the space of a week.

Over to football:

1. Cristiano Ronaldo winning individual honors with 2 different clubs

The Portuguese is considered one of the greatest of all time for a reason. He is the only player in history to win the Golden Boot, Ballon d’Or, Champions League and Club World Cup with two different clubs. That is Manchester United and Real Madrid.

2. Clarence Seedorf winning Champions League with three clubs

The Dutch midfielder played for Ajax, Real Madrid, Inter and AC Milan during his heydays. Seedorf is considered one of the most successful players in UEFA Champions League history, as he is the only player to have won the Champions League with three clubs – once with Ajax, in 1995, once with Real Madrid, in 1998 and twice with AC Milan, in 2003 and 2007.

3. Pele’s three World Cups

The late Edson Arantes do Nascimento alias Pele is largely remembered for his exploits at the World Cup. The late Brazilian soccer wizard won the World Cup three times in 1958, 1962 and 1970. He remains the only player to do so. None among the current crop of players have won the World Cup twice, which means Pele’s record will remain intact for years to come.

4. Lionel Messi’s7 Ballon d’Or accolades

The Argentine soccer superstar has won the FIFA Ballon d’Or accolade 7 times, setting him way above his peers. His closest rival is Christiano Ronaldo, with 5 accolades. It is difficult to foresee anyone breaking Messi’s record.

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