Making their mark in '98


Women were in the vanguard of Track and Field in the 1998 athletics season with the setting of 17 new world records out of an overall total of 26. All of the new marks, nine outdoors and 17 indoors, were ratified by the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) with two others not included because they did not fulfil the correct IAAF criteria.

Of the nine outdoor marks, four were set by men and five by women while indoors women accounted for 12 records with five others going to men.

A newcomer to the prestigious list of outdoor world record holders was one of the best athletes of the year, Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj who ran 3 minutes 26 seconds over 1500 metres in Rome in July while the even more remarkable Haile Gebrselassie claimed two world marks over 5,000 metres and 10,000 metres outdoors and a 3000 metres mark indoors. The Ethiopian is the only male athlete to have claimed records both indoors and outdoors this season.

The women's most consistent performer was Australia's Emma George who bettered the outdoor pole vault mark three times through February and March and repeated the triple feat indoors for a new 4.55 metre record. The record, for what is a relatively new discipline for women, was actually broken 10 times indoors during those two winter months.

Catherina McKiernan's greatest marathon rival Tegla Loroupe was also on the list claiming the one hour record along with her world marathon record set in Holland. Although McKiernan ran the fifth fastest marathon of all time, records over the 26 miles have not been included on the IAAF listing.

Although Mozambique's 800 metre runner Maria Mutola ran a world best of 1 minute 56.36 seconds in Lievin, France, her time was not ratified because, in contravention of IAAF statutes, she stepped outside her lane during the race. In the women's hammer event Olga Kuzenkova's throw of 73.80 metre was also set aside because there was no doping control conducted at the Italian meeting in Togliatti. There must be doping procedures in place for any world record to be ratified by the parent body.