Records are meant to be broken, but there are some that are just too great — too completely out there — to ever be touched again. The following are eight Olympic records that will never be matched or surpassed.
Getty ImagesShaun Botterill
Bob Beamon’s 29 feet and 2 1/2-inch long jump
U.S. Olympian Bob Beamon set a long jump distance record at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City that has yet to be broken in Olympic competition. For perspective, 23 years passed before Beamon’s mark was out-jumped by Mike Powell, who notched a world record leap of 29 feet and 4 1/4 inches at the World Championships in Athletics in Tokyo in 1991. This was not an Olympic jump, however. And on that note — the furthest long jump at the 2012 London Games was made by Great Britain’s Greg Rutherford, who managed a relatively paltry 27 feet and three inches.
Michael Phelps’ 18 gold medals
Eighteen gold medals in three Olympics. That’s six golds per cycle and quite possibly more in the offing in Rio. The next closest Olympian to Phelps' mark is Soviet(!) gymnast Larisa Latynina, who chalked up nine golds for the Soviets in the 1950s and 1960s. Her 18 total medals come the closest to challenging Phelps’ 22 overall Olympic medals. So yeah, the only person breaking Phelps’ gold count is Phelps.
Getty ImagesMike Hewitt
Ian Millar’s 10 consecutive Olympic appearances
In 2012, the then 65-year-old Canadian equestrian rider Ian Millar set an Olympic record by making his 10th appearance in the Olympic Games — a streak that began back in 1972, at the ill-fated Summer Games in Munich. Only two other Olympians have made nine appearances: 53-year-old Slovenian sharpshooter Rajmond Debevec, who has eight games under his belt but did not receive a bid for a ninth appearance in Rio. Ironically, Millar will not be making his 11th Olympic appearance in Rio due to an injury to his horse that will require surgery.
Kwon Jongryul and Arianne Cerdena’s gold-medal exhibition performances
No one will ever come close beating Kwon Jongryul’s and Arianne Cerdena's Olympic performances at the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea — primarily because it was the only year that bowling made the Olympic cut, and will almost certainly never again be featured as an Olympic sport.
Boston Globe via Getty ImagesBoston Globe
China’s mountain of gold medals in table tennis
Since table tennis’ induction as an Olympic event in 1988, China has dominated it with zero mercy and virtually zero challengers. In 28 years, the Chinese have won 41 gold medals in table tennis, while only four gold medals have been won by non-Chinese Olympians. So it’s possible to beat the Chinese juggernaut, but they will never be matched or surpassed in the grand scheme.
Getty ImagesLaurence Griffiths
Florence Griffith-Joyner’s 10.62 second 100-meter dash
I believe this one will go down, eventually. But until it does, Florence Griffith-Joyner’s 10.62 100-meter dash time is the unbreakable Rock of Gibraltar in women’s sprinting. Set at the 1988 Games in Seoul, Flo-Jo’s best non-wind-aided time of 10.62 has only been swiped at in Olympic competition. The next closest bid for the women’s 100-meter Olympic throne came from Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who ran a 10.75 in London in 2012. If anyone’s going to pass the late great Flo-Jo in the next couple years, it’s Fraser-Pryce or 17-year-old phenom Candace Hill, who ran a 10.98 at the age of 16 last year.
13-year-old U.S. diver Marjorie Gestring wins gold
Thirteen years old. Thirteen. American diver Marjorie Gestring won gold in the three-meter spring board three years before most of us could drive a car, and she did so while competing in front of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party at the Berlin Olympics in 1936. Think about that the next time you celebrate an egg hatching in Pokemon Go.
America’s 239-medal romp at the 1904 Games
I don’t know if it was home-cooking, something in the water or just the true peak of the American unipolar moment, but at the St. Louis Olympic Games in 1904, the U.S. hauled in 239 total medals (78 gold, 82 silver, 79 bronze). This record number still stands today, will almost certainly never be broken, considering the next most prolific national performance belongs to the Soviet Union, who managed to rake in 195 medals at the heavily boycotted 1980 Games in Moscow. And if they couldn’t pull out more medals on their home turf with America and half the world sitting at home, welp, it ain’t happening.