Much hubbub is being made of incoming quarterback Denard Robinson’s 100 meter dash time, a 10.44 according to the reports (HT: mgoblog).  Always nice to see these metrics but of course track stars unleashed on the gridiron haven’t exactly set the football world ablaze.   

The current world record in the 100m belongs to Usain Bolt, the 9.69 he ran this summer in Beijing.  Robinson’s time would have been the world’s best back in the early 1920s, when the record was held by US runner Charlie Paddock.  The 10.4 time bested fellow US athlete Jackson Scholz who put up a 10.6 in 1920.  

If those names sound familiar, Paddock and Scholz were two of the high profile American athletes featured at the 1924 Paris Olympics in the 1981 epic Chariots of Fire, probably the best movie ever made.

Fans of the movie may be interested to know that the lead character, English sprinter Harold Abrahams, took the gold in the 100m in Paris with a time of 10.6

Here’s the clip of the race from the movie.  The Prince of Wales is the gent talking to the runners at the beginning, note the wager he makes with our man Paddock.  (We lost).


If you’re wondering why the old man punches a hole in his hat, you should rent the movie.


  1. Are you sure that the old world records in track were not based on 100 yards? I’m by no means a track historian, but IIRC, there was a time when the standard system was used as opposed to the metric. If that is the case, the time comparisons may be off. . .

  2. Good question – they kept world records in both distances for while. In the Olympics, they competed in the 100 meters. Eric Liddell of Scotland (the co-key figure in Chariots of Fire alongside Abrahams) held the “100 yard” record in 1924, at 9.7 seconds. That jives – so I’m pretty confident the figures above are for the 100m.