Throughout the week, Guinness World Records is going to be sharing and celebrating the stories behind some of the most iconic record-breaking Olympians.
We continue our series with a look back at the incredible achievements of track star, and four-time record holder Ed Moses.
It’s July 1976, and a 19-year-old Ed Moses is approaching the 400m hurdles for the first time in an international meeting. An international meeting that just happens to be at the Montreal Olympic Games. The gun fires, and Moses takes off - legs flying above the track asphalt.
Long strides, stretching further than his opponents, tackle each hurdle with ease. It’s his gift amongst the others.
Moses knew his advantage lied in his leg span, but he did not know this inherent ability would win him the race, and would form part of an unprecedented winning streak that would last an incredible 122 races.
Moses would cross the the finish line in Montreal with two titles people hope to have in their lifetime: gold medalist and world record holder.
In a stadium of an awestruck crowd, the setting of his success was the Montreal Olympics, and his time of 47.63 seconds— shattered the speed record his predecessors set for the event.
In the subsequent nine years after 1976, Moses did not understand the menial concept of losing. Every breath and step was put towards winning races, and he did so for each race that followed.
Unlike other runners, Moses managed to reach the daunting hurdles on the track in 13 strides instead of 14. His long-legged strategy proved to be a good one, as it gained him more victories and Olympic medals.
“By definition… a world record in your mind, in a competitor’s mind, is so powerful— you don’t even know if you’ll be able to do it again,” mentioned Moses, recalling his first world record title.
But clearly, Moses did not like to wonder about his potential. With fervor and a strong competitive spirit, he went on to beat his own record three more times, scaling the competition for anyone else who tried to surmount his legacy.
The Ohio-born track and field star gained two more metals throughout the course of his career; a gold from the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, California, and a bronze in Seoul Korea four years after.
When he leapt over that final hurdle in 1988, it was the last stride for an extraordinary athlete. Moses, though finished with sprinting the track, could not give up his passion for sports.
Upon retirement he traded his worn Team USA uniform for a sled, as he decided to become a competitive bobsledder.
Predictably Moses treated each bobsled race as any other, heading to the World Cup Race in 1990 where he earned another bronze medal.
Now he is an honorable and respected member of the United States Track and Field Hall of Fame, and works as head of Substance Abuse, Research, and Education Committee for the US Olympics.
In the course of his story, Edwin Moses proved there are no constraints, no limitations, to conquering success. Even when the best cannot fathom being beaten, it is still possible to do better. His multi-record breaking accomplishments are inspiration for every Olympian and runner to come, including the exceptional at tomorrow’s opening ceremonies.