From the LA Examiner:
Lemaitre of France becomes first sub-10 second white man
Christophe Lemaitre of France joined an elite club today, July 9, 2010, at the French Championships by running the first sub-10 second 100 meters by a white male sprinter. The 19 year old French sprinter ran 9.98 seconds, good enough for the win, a new national French record and his name in the track and field record books as the first non-African to dip under the ten second barrier for 100 meters.
That “first non-African” bit is actually not true. Patrick Johnson of Australia, who is half Irish – half Aboriginal, ran 9.93 in 2003, with a 1.8 meter per second tailwind (the legal maximum is 2.0 mps). Also Marian Woronin of Poland is said to have run very slightly under 10.00, but had it rounded up to an official 10.00. (Woronin’s tailwind was a 2.0, just at the maximum.) Koji Ito of Japan ran 10.00 with a 1.9 tailwind. (There have been quite a number of fine Japanese 100m men since the 1930s.)
Lemaitre’s performance was in Valence, France, which is at modest altitude, so this isn’t one of those fluke high altitude sprint marks. He’d run under 10.10 five times already this season, best of 10.02, so this wasn’t unexpected. The wind was 1.3 mps, favorable but hardly anomalous.
The current record is Usain Bolt’s 9.58 in 2009. Before today, the 10.00 barrier had been officially broken 446 times, 445 of those times by men of West African descent.
By the way, no East African has broken 10.00. The best any Brazilian black has run is 10.02. The best 100m men tend to be from the West African diaspora, but men running for Nigeria have broken ten flat 21 times, and also a Nigerian rented by Portugal has done it under Portuguese colors a few times. Other West African countries have a number of times under ten flat, so West Africa would dominate the men’s 100m if not for the West African diaspora.