Men's 400 metres world record progression

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The first world record in the 400 m for men (athletics) was recognized by the International Amateur Athletics Federation, now known as World Athletics, in 1912. The IAAF ratified Charles Reidpath's 48.2 performance set at that year's Stockholm Olympics as a world record, but it also recognized the superior mark over 440 yards (402.34 metres) run by Maxie Long in 1900 as a world record.

Through 2021, World Athletics has ratified 24 world records in the event.[1]

The following tables show the world record progression in the men's 400 metres, as ratified by World Athletics.

Records 1912–1976[edit]

Time Auto Athlete Nationality Location of race Date
47.8y Maxie Long  United States New York, USA September 29, 1900[1]
48.2 Charles Reidpath  United States Stockholm, Sweden July 13, 1912[1]
47.4y Ted Meredith  United States Cambridge, USA May 27, 1916[1][2]
47.6 Eric Liddell  United Kingdom Paris, France July 11, 1924[note 1][3]: 49 
47.0 Emerson Spencer  United States Palo Alto, USA May 12, 1928[1]
46.4y Ben Eastman  United States Palo Alto, California, USA March 26, 1932[1]
46.2 46.28 Bill Carr  United States Los Angeles, USA August 5, 1932[1]
46.1 Archie Williams  United States Chicago, USA June 19, 1936[1]
46.0 Rudolf Harbig  Nazi Germany Frankfurt am Main, Nazi Germany August 12, 1939[1]
Grover Klemmer  United States Philadelphia, USA June 6, 1941[1][4]
46.0y Herb McKenley  Jamaica Berkeley, USA June 5, 1948[1]
45.9 46.00 Herb McKenley  Jamaica Milwaukee, USA July 2, 1948[1]
45.8 George Rhoden  Jamaica Eskilstuna, Sweden August 22, 1950[1]
45.4A 45.68 Lou Jones  United States Mexico City, Mexico March 18, 1955[1]
45.2 Lou Jones  United States Los Angeles, USA June 30, 1956[1]
44.9 45.07 Otis Davis  United States Rome, Italy September 6, 1960[1]
45.08 Carl Kaufmann  Germany Rome, Italy September 6, 1960[1]
44.9y Adolph Plummer  United States Tempe, USA May 25, 1963[1]
44.9 Mike Larrabee  United States Los Angeles, USA September 12, 1964[1]
44.5+ Tommie Smith  United States San Jose, USA May 20, 1967[1]
44.1A 44.19 Larry James  United States Echo Summit, USA September 14, 1968[1]
43.8A 43.86 Lee Evans  United States Mexico City, Mexico October 18, 1968[1]

(+) plus sign denotes en route time during longer race
"y" denotes time for 440 yards, ratified as a record for this event
"A" indicates that the time was set at altitude.

The "Time" column indicates the ratified mark; the "Auto" column indicates a fully automatic time that was also recorded in the event when hand-timed marks were used for official records, or which was the basis for the official mark, rounded to the 10th of a second, depending on the rules then in place.

Records post-1976[edit]

From 1975, the IAAF accepted separate automatically electronically timed records for events up to 400 metres. Starting January 1, 1977, the IAAF required fully automatic timing to the hundredth of a second for these events.[1]

Lee Evans' 1968 Olympic gold medal victory time of 43.86 was the fastest recorded result to that time.

Time Athlete Nationality Location of race Date Duration of record
43.86 A Lee Evans  United States Mexico City, Mexico October 18, 1968[1] 19 years, 9 months and 30 days
43.29 Butch Reynolds  United States Zürich, Switzerland August 17, 1988[1] 11 years and 9 days
43.18 Michael Johnson  United States Seville, Spain August 26, 1999[1] 16 years, 11 months and 19 days
43.03 Wayde van Niekerk  South Africa Rio de Janeiro, Brazil August 14, 2016[5] 6 years, 5 months and 11 days


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z "12th IAAF World Championships In Athletics: IAAF Statistics Handbook. Berlin 2009" (PDF). Monte Carlo: IAAF Media & Public Relations Department. 2009. pp. Pages 546, 547. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 29, 2011. Retrieved August 2, 2009.
  2. ^ "The Official Report of the Games of the 8th Olympiade" (PDF). Paris, FR. 1924. p. 107. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
  3. ^ Hymans, Richard; Matrahazi, Imre. "IAAF World Records Progression" (PDF) (2015 ed.). International Association of Athletics Federations. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
  4. ^ "HD Stock Video Footage - Track and Field events at Franklin Field in Philadelphia".
  5. ^ "Men's 400m Results" (PDF). Rio 2016. International Olympic Committee. 14 August 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 September 2016. Retrieved 3 September 2016.


  1. ^ Eric Liddell's 1924 Olympic Games victory was initially ratified as a world record by the IAAF, despite being slower than Ted Meredith's mark from 1916. The IAAF rescinded the record on August 7, 1928.