Top 10 Greatest Female Sprinters Of All Time

May 2, 2021 By Sourav

Top 10 Greatest Female Sprinters Of All Time

Track and field is a sport in which the participants are required to have skills in running, jumping, and throwing. There are several kinds of events in track and field, such as sprints, middle and long-distance events, hurdling, jumping events of various kinds, throwing events, etc. There are combined events, as well. Track runners are among major contributors to the overall medals won by a nation in every sporting season or major tournament like the Olympics.

Just like in all other sports, in track racing, too, women take a major position. Female track runners are among the greatest sports stars in the world, as they display excellent speed and focus on the rack. Here is a list of the greatest female sprinters of all time. Let’s take a look at their achievements and contributions to their nations.

Greatest Female Sprinters Of All Time | 2021 Updates

10. Wyomia Tyus

Retired American track and field athlete Wyomia Tyus is the first person to retain the Olympic title in the 100-meter event. She participated in the 1964 Summer Olympics at the age of just 19 and equaled Wilma Rudolph's world record in the heats. She also achieved a silver medal in the 4 x 100-meter relay event at the same Olympics. Tyus achieved the gold medal at the Pan-American Games in the 200-meter event.

She won the title again in the 100-meter event with a new world record of 11.08 seconds in the 1968 Olympic Games and became the first woman to retain the Olympic title in the 100-meter event. Tyus won eight of eighteen events in the Professional International Track Association competitions in 1973 and won every event she entered the same competition in the following year. She now holds the ninth place among the top 10 greatest female sprinters of all time.

9. Marion Jones

Former world champion track and field athlete Marion Lois Jones also known as Marion Jones-Thompson is also known as a former professional basketball player in the WNBA for Tulsa Shock. She achieved three gold medals at the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics. Jones won her first major international competition in the 100-meter sprint at the 1997 Athens World Championships. She now holds her place among the top 10 greatest female sprinters of all time.

She won three gold medals in 100 meters, 200 meters, and 4x400 relay events at the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics and also achieved two bronze medals. Jones is one of the most famous athletes to be linked to the BALCO scandal and later stripped of these medals when she admitted that she had used performance-enhancing drugs. Jones won the 100-meter event within a time of 10.93 seconds at Gaz de France on July 8, 2006.

8. Marita Koch

Former German sprint track and field athlete Marita Koch also known as Marita Koch Meier after her marriage was collected a remarkable sixteen world records in outdoor sprints during her active athletic career. She also holds 14 world records in indoor events. She holds the record of the 400 meters which she covered within 47.60 seconds on October 6, 1985. Koch set her first world record in Milan after covering 400 meters indoor event within 51.8 seconds in 1977.

The very next year she broke her own world record within 49.19 seconds in the 400-meter outdoor event. Marita Koch became the first woman to cover the 200 meters within less than 22 seconds which she did in 1979. She won the 400-meter event at the European Championships three times in 1978, 1982, and 1986. Koch still remains the European record holder in 200-meter events. She surely deserves her place among the top 10 greatest female sprinters of all time.

7. Carmelita Jeter

Amazing American sprinter Carmelita Jeter specializes in the 100 meters event. She was a three-time Olympic medalist and also the IAAF World Champion in the 100-meter event. She achieved the bronze medal in the 100-meter event at the 2007 World Championships and won the gold medal at the World Athletics Final. Jeter won her championship medal in the Shanghai Golden Grand Prix in the 100-meter event within just 10.64 seconds and became the second-fastest woman ever behind Florence Griffith-Joyner in the 100-meter event.

She currently holds three of the top ten times ever in the 100-meter event. Jeter won the Women's 100-meter event with a record timing of 10.90 seconds at the 2011 IAAF World Championship. She won the 100-meter event within a time of 10.67 seconds in Thessaloniki, Greece. Jeter surely deserves her mention among the top 10 greatest female sprinters of all time.

6. Cathy Freeman

Former Australian sprinter Catherine Astrid Salome "Cathy" Freeman was specialized in the 400 meters event. She covered a 400-meter event within just 48.63 seconds which made her the sixth fastest woman of all time which she did at the 1996 Olympics. She lit the Olympic Flame and became the Olympic champion for women's 400 meters at the 2000 Summer Olympics. Freeman won her first Commonwealth Games gold medal in 1990 at the age of 16.

She won gold medals in both the 200 meters and 400 meters events at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Canada. Freeman won the 1997 World Championships and won the silver medal in the 1996 Olympics both in the 400-meter event. She won the 400-meter event at the 1999 World Championships. Freeman established the Cathy Freeman Foundation in 2007. She now holds her place among the top 10 greatest female sprinters of all time.

5. Merlene Ottey

Retired Jamaican-born Slovene track athlete Merlene Joyce Ottey began her career representing Jamaica but later represented Slovenia in 2002. She was nicknamed the "Queen of the Track" for her career achievements and was also nicknamed for earning bronze medals in major championships as the "Bronze Queen". Ottey is ranked third on the all-time list over 200 meters, fourth on the all-time list over 60 meters, and sixth on the all-time list over 100 meters which standstill 1993.

She participated in the Slovene 4x100 relay at the age of 52 years at the 2012 European Athletics which made her have the longest career as a top-level international sprinter. She holds the record for most Olympic appearances with her 7 participation. Ottey also holds the record for winning fourteen World Championships medals. Ottey now holds the fourth place among the top 10 greatest female sprinters of all time.

4. Irena Szewinska

Retired Polish sprinter Irena Szewinska was one of the world's most renowned athletes for nearly two decades. She won seven medals consisting of three gold medals in five Olympic Games she participated in between 1964 and 1980. She broke six world records during her career and is the only athlete to hold the world record in the 100 meters, 200 meters, and 400 meters events. Szewinska set 38 records in 100-400 meter sprints and long jump and has won 26 national titles between 1965 and 1979. She also achieved 10 medals in European Championships.

She became the first female athlete to break the 50-second barrier in the 400-meter event in 1974, and also set a new world record in the 200 meters within 22.21 seconds. Szewinska is the head of the Polish Federation of Athletics since 2004. She has achieved her place in the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and the IAAF Hall of Fame. Irena surely deserves the third place in our list of the top 10 greatest female sprinters of all time.

3. Wilma Rudolph

Former legendary track and field athlete and Olympic champion Wilma Glodean Rudolph was there with us from her birth on June 23, 1940, till she died on November 12, 1994. She participated in the 1956 and 1960 Olympic Games. And, her fans still consider her the fastest woman in the world in the 1960s. She was described as "The Tornado, the fastest woman on earth" during the 1960 Rome Olympics. Rudolph was nicknamed “La Gazella Nera”, meaning "The Black Gazelle" by Italians, and was named “La Perle Noire”, which stands for "The Black Pearl", by the French.

She became the Associated Press Woman Athlete of the Year twice consecutively in 1960 and 61. She received the United Press Athlete of the Year award in 1960 and won the James E. Sullivan Award in 1961. Rudolph was inducted in the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1983 and in the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1994. Wilma surely deserves her mention among the top 10 greatest female sprinters of all time.

2. Florence Griffith Joyner

Former legendary American track and field athlete Florence Delorez Griffith Joyner, nicknamed “Flo-Jo”, was there with us from her birth on December 21, 1959, till she died in her sleep as the result of an epileptic seizure at the age of just 38 on September 21, 1998. Even after her tragic death, she still holds the world records she set in both the 100 meters and 200 meters events in 1988. All the fans still consider her as the fastest woman of all time. Flo-Jo won the 100-meter event at the 1985 IAAF Grand Prix Final within 11.00 seconds timing.

She holds the unbroken world record of the fastest wind-legal time of 10.61 seconds in a 100-meter event. While being the favorite at the 1988 Summer Olympics, she covered the 100-meter event within wind-assisted 10.54 seconds. Flo-Jo won the James E. Sullivan Award in 1988. Joyner now holds her place at the top of the top 10 greatest female sprinters of all time.

1. Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce

Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce first came into prominence in 2008 at the age of just 21. She became the first-ever Carrebean woman to achieve an Olympic gold medal. And then in 2012, she defended her gold medal and became the third woman ever to do so. She took a pause from the sprinting circuit in 2017 as she was pregnant at that time. But, she made a great comeback a year later.

During the 2019 World Championship, she won the gold medal at the age of 32 thus becoming the oldest woman to achieve that feat. She is the only sprinter to win the World Championship a record four times in 100 meters category. Besides, she is the only female sprinter ever top grace the field who has achieved a Sprinting Tripple. No doubt, his fans got her the right nickname, 'Pocket Rocket'.

Honorable Mention: Gail Devers

Retired American track and field athlete Yolanda Gail Devers is a three-time Olympic champion for the US Olympic Team. She won the silver medal in the 100-meter event at the 1991 World Championships. She won the title of the 100-meter event and 100-meter hurdles at the 1993 World Championship. Devers successfully defended her 100-meter hurdles title in the 1995 World Championship. She won the 100-meter final at the 1996 Summer Olympics and became the first woman since Wyomia Tyus to retain the Olympic 100 meter title.

Devers later concentrated on the hurdles event and won the World Championship again in 1999. She was inducted in the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2011 and inducted in the United States Olympic Hall of Fame the following year. Devers received the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award in 2013. She now holds the tenth place in our list of the top 10 greatest female sprinters of all time.

Final Words

The female track runners are all extremely fit and powerful physically and have the right amount of grit necessary to create records on the track. These women train diligently, devoting several hours to increase their speed and tenacity, as well as exercising for greater physical fitness. Sports fans are hopeful that more and more women will enter this sport and carry the torch forward. And, we hope that you liked our list of the top 10 greatest female sprinters of all time.

Leave a Reply

  1. Emearg
    Emearg September 4, 2019 15:25

    Apart from Cathy Freeman, Merlene Ottey and Gail Devers you have complied a list of drug and steroid taking cheats. Certainly none of those in that category should ever be considered as great.

    1. Christopher Nowak
      Christopher Nowak September 7, 2019 08:41

      So True!
      It would be like putting BEN JOHNSON on the same list for men.

  2. Jaye
    jaye October 16, 2019 09:13

    evelyn ashford was the greatest clean female sprinter ever... flo jo's medals should have been hers...

  3. Clark
    Clark November 15, 2019 06:07

    No Evelyn ashford

  4. Shawanda Sefcovic
    Shawanda Sefcovic December 9, 2019 12:56

    Are you going to go see that new movie Richard Jewell? It looks really good. It's produced by Clint Eastwood and Leonardo DiCaprio. I guess it's about the security guard that saved thousands of lives during the 1996 Olympics. I'm going to see it this weekend with my wife.

    1. Sourav Das
      Sourav Das December 11, 2019 18:23

      7.8 rating in IMDB. It supposes to be great.

  5. Derrick A Chizer
    Derrick A Chizer December 10, 2019 19:55

    Evelyn Ashford no question , top 5 !

    1. Sourav Das
      Sourav Das December 11, 2019 18:16

      We didn't make this list according to the Olympic achievements. We took accounts of the European championship as well as Pan-American Games. So, Evelyn is not there in top 5. But sure, she deserves an honorable mention in this list.

  6. BS.
    BS. December 12, 2019 05:46

    No Shelly ann Fraser,no Allyson Felix,Evelyn Ashford and no Veronica Campbell Brown.This list has some good sprinters but I think it leaves out perhaps the best ones.Evaluating someones worth is always subjective I know,so this guy has the right to pick the ones he fancies and thinks are most deserving but I think it's not really the best list based on an overall check of achievement.

    1. Sourav Das
      Sourav Das December 12, 2019 18:25

      Thanks for the feedback.
      We have made this list based on their performances in the Olympics and World Championship. If you thoroughly go through this list, you can find that all of them are the multiple-time gold medalists in the Olympics or World Championship.
      And the sprinters you have mentioned, are they really better or more decorated than the sprinters that we have mentioned here? No, I guess. Stats say a different story than yours.
      Anyway, I do agree with you that the evaluation is always subjective.

  7. Jeremy
    Jeremy April 15, 2020 16:50

    This list is not very good. Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce is one of, if not THE, greatest female sprinter of all time. If she is not on your list, then your list has no credibility.
    What factors did you use when making your list?

    Medals? Shelly Ann has 2 Olympic gold and 4 World Championship gold in the 100m. More in the 60m and 200m. More than even Usain Bolt.

    Longevity? Shelly Ann first won Olympic gold in 2008. And Iím 2019, at the age of 32, she became the oldest woman to win 100m gold. After having a baby in 2017.

    Cultural impact? World Athletics (governing body) calls Fraser Pryce the greatest sprinter of her generation. She has the respect, the has the social media followers.

    Fast times? Her personal best of 10.70s is the 4th fastest of all time. But she runs 10.7 seconds consistently. More than any other female (14 times total). In 2019, she ran 10.71, which was the fastest time for the last 2 years in athletics.

    You donít want to admit that your list is wrong. Maybe you didnít know about her. Thatís fine. Now you do. Iím not asking you to disagree. You canít disagree with facts/stats. She is the greatest, and if not THE greatest, sheís set top 3.

    1. Sourav Das
      Sourav Das April 15, 2020 18:00

      Again, you are missing my points.
      Whom do you want to replace her with? Give me a name from this list and I'll give you 10 reasons.
      It's not about myself not wanting to admit my list is wrong or anything. It is just the fact that I can't replace any of these sprinters.

  8. Jeremy
    Jeremy April 16, 2020 06:08

    Tell me why Carmelita Jeter is above Fraser Pryce. Or even Cathy Freeman? What do they have that Fraser Pryce doesnít?
    Fraser Pryce has more medals than they do, more longevity than they do, and more impact on the sport that they do, because she has been dominant and winning gold medals for 10 years, which NO other sprinter has done.

    Before you answer, Iíd recommend that you read Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce Wikipedia page or watch some of her races on YouTube.

    And last, if Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce isnít on your list, then you donít know track and field. And if you donít know track and field, then you shouldnít be making these lists.

    1. Sourav Das
      Sourav Das April 16, 2020 17:44

      Ok, I'm giving you the reasons why.

      Carmelita Jeter not only won 6 gold medals (that include 3 world championships) but she is the first one to break the long-standing record of Florence Griffith Joyner as she completed 100-meter in 10.64 seconds. Besides, three out of top ten fastest sprints ever recorded are still under his name. Mind it, 3 fastest 100-meter sprints ever recorded.

      Now comes Cathy Freeman, she not only has seven gold medals (including Olympic and 4 Commonwealth) but also lit the Olympic flame and won the medal at the same game in 2000. She is the first Australian sprinter who won both the 200meter and 400meter gold at the same commonwealth. Besides, she is the pioneer of the Australian sprint circuit and has a huge impact on how the Australian sprint game changed over the last decades.

    2. Sourav Das
      Sourav Das April 16, 2020 17:46

      And again, I not only read, researched, and watched not only Fraser Pryce but more than 100 sprinters before making this list.
      Now, let's end this topic.

      We still don't consider her to be among the top 10 greatest of all time. But yes, she deserves an honorable mention and we will soon include not only her but two more sprinters on this list.

  9. Jake
    Jake April 16, 2020 14:44

    I agree about Shelly Ann. Iíd definitely put her in the top 5. One of them even said, ďsheís the best thereís ever beenĒ.

    1. Sourav Das
      Sourav Das April 16, 2020 17:36

      I never disagreed about the fact of Shelly-Ann Fraser. But, I think she needs time to become the greatest.

  10. Jeremy
    Jeremy April 17, 2020 04:58

    You don't make sense. She runs faster than most people on your list, she has more gold medals than everyone on your list. She has been dominant for longer than everyone on your list. And she has achieved more for the sport than most people on your list. Even the athletics governing body says she is the greatest female sprinter.

    Here is a better top 10.

    10. Evelyn Ashford
    9. Veronica Campbell / Maria Koch (tie)
    8. Carmelita Jeter
    7. Wyomia Tyus
    6. Gwen Torrence / Irina Privalova (tie)
    5. Florence Griffith Joyner
    4. Allyson Felix
    3. Merlene Ottey
    2. Gail Devers
    1. Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce - she had a baby and came back to win 100m gold in 2019!!!!

    1. Sourav Das
      Sourav Das April 17, 2020 17:30

      We will definitely consider this list. Thanks for your suggestion.

  11. Taps
    Taps May 13, 2020 09:30

    I am from Zimbabwe, Africa. Shelly-Ann is the 2nd Greatest for me after Flo-Jo, simply because Flo-Jos records are yet to be broken.

    But all those other women cannot be said to be greater than Shelly-Ann, if we are talking about the GREATEST SPRINTERS,

    1. Sourav Das
      Sourav Das May 13, 2020 18:32

      Thanks for visiting our sports blog. Keep visiting, mate!

  12. Lance Newman
    Lance Newman May 27, 2021 21:35

    The fact that you don't have Evelyn Ashford at #1 only shows that you don't know the history of the sport. Between the Pan American Games, Goodwill Games and the Olympic Games, she has a total of 9 gold metals.

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