The much-delayed Tokyo Olympics is all set to get underway with a sobering, watered-down opening ceremony on Friday as the world gets ready to witness its best athletes compete against each other for the greatest honour in the sporting world.
Over the centuries, the Summer Olympics have seen some of the greatest athletes push the very boundaries of human performance, going faster, higher and stronger to shatter what may have previously seemed like unbreakable records.
However, some distinguished individuals have set the bar so high, their standards may really be impossible to surpass, at least for a very, very long time.
From legendary 100 metre sprints to mind-boggling medal tallies, here are five Summer Olympic records that may never be broken:
Usain Bolt’s 9.63 second-100m dash
Usain Bolt is the greatest sprinter the world has ever known. The Jamaican has set and broken his own records a number of times over his illustrious career and holds the Olympic record for the fastest 100m dash, a time of 9.63 seconds he set at the 2012 London Games, breaking the record of 9.81 seconds he set four years earlier in Beijing. That is not the world record, however, with that title also belonging to Bolt, a lightning-quick time of 9.58 second he set at the 2009 World Athletics Championships final in Berlin.
Bob Beamon’s 29ft, 2 ½-inch long jump
American track and field athlete, also known as the ‘GOAT of long jump’ was the pinnacle of his sport back in his day. At the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, he set a world record by jumping 29ft 2 1/2in, beating the existing record by 55cm (21 2/3in). Such was the spectacular nature of his feat, that when Beamon realised what he had just did, he collapsed on the ground following a cataplexy attack brought on by emotional shock and a new adjective ‘Beamonesque’ came into existence.
His record would stand as the world record for 23 years, until Mike Powell jumped 29ft 4 3/4in at the 1991 World Championship in Tokyo. However, at the Olympics, the record has stood for 53 years and will likely stand for much longer.
Michael Phelps’ 23 gold medals
American legend Michael Phelps is the greatest swimmer in the history of the sport and has been the most dominant individual athlete in the history of the Olympics. He has won a mind-boggling total of 28 Olympic medals, 23 of which are gold. His individual tally of gold medals is more than entire countries, including the likes of Argentina, Iran, India, Indonesia and others.
China’s 53 medals in table tennis
China are the dominant force in table tennis in recent decades, sweeping Olympic medals in the last three Games. China has a total of 53 medals in the sport, including 28 gold, with the next best being South Korea, with 18 (three gold).
Ian Miller’s 10 Olympic appearances
Longevity is rare in sport and only the most dedicated athletes are able to compete at the very top level for years. But maintaining that level for four decades? Now that’s just unheard of.
Canadian equestrian Ian Miller did just that, appearing in 10 Olympic events, starting from 1972 in Berlin to 2012 in London. He has one medal, a silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He could have made it 11 in 2016, but his horse got injured. Only two other Olympians have made nine appearances, Austrian sailor Hubert Raudaschl and Latvian shooter Afanasijs Kuzmins.