After 42 Years, Women’s 100-meter Dash Record Finally Broken

It took Olga Lansky only 11.42 seconds to break the Israeli record set by Esther Roth-Shahamorov at the Munich Olympics.

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Sprinter Olga Lansky in action.
Sprinter Olga Lansky in action.Credit: Sharon Bukov

Sprinter Olga Lansky broke the Israeli record in the women’s 100-meter-dash on Saturday, after 42 years during which it seemed that no one would ever replace Esther Roth-Shahamorov at the top of the board.

At a track meet in Hadar Yosef, Tel Aviv, the 21-year-old Lansky turned in a time of 11.42 seconds, three-hundredths of a second faster than Roth-Shahamorov’s record at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

“I’m very happy, I didn’t believe it myself at first,” Lansky said after the race, adding, “Actually, I didn’t expect such a result and it surprised me. I told myself, ‘the first meet of the season, we’ll run for the fun of it.’ I simply ran and didn’t think I was on the way to that kind of result ... It’s a record that has stood for many years and I really wanted to break it, I thought it would happen last year and it didn’t work out. I think Esther is glad.”

For a long time there’s been talk about you being the next hope of the track. Does your new record take some of the pressure off?

“I do what I need to do; I train hard and hope to progress. I want to demonstrate the maximum at the European women’s championship,” Lansky says.

In May 2002, Lansky’s mother, Irena Lansky, ran the 100-meter hurdles in 12.90 seconds, three-hundredths of a second faster than Roth-Shahamorov’s record in that event at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Twelve years later, her daughter stripped Roth-Shahamorov of another historic record.

“People keep trying to call me; I consider it a real event,” says Roth-Shahamorov, smiling. She celebrated her 62nd birthday last week. “It’s my oldest record, I thought the 100-meter hurdles would hold for longer because it’s more prestigious in international terms. The 100-meter sprint was more of a psychological record, because many women sought to break it and failed, including Irena. To hold on to a record for 42 years is truly above and beyond, I don’t know if there are many countries with a record that remained unbroken for so long.”

She goes on to say that she felt a rush of very mixed emotions when she heard that the record she set in Munich, shortly before the abduction of 11 of her fellow delegation members that ended in their deaths. “There are two aspects, the personal and the national. On the national level it doesn’t sound good that there’s no progress and people still talk about my records. Records are made to be broken.”

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