At the Romanian national championships in Bucharest last month, long jumper Anisoara Cusmir got off a leap of 23'5�" to break the women's world record of 23'3�" held by Vilma Bardauskiene of the Soviet Union. Cusmir's record lasted only until Vali Ionescu hit a 23'7�" jump less than five minutes later. It isn't often that world records are broken more than once in the same track meet, but it does happen. During the 1968 Olympics, the world record in the triple jump of 55'10�" held by Jozef Schmidt of Poland was broken nine times by five different athletes, the winner being Viktor Saneev of the Soviet Union, whose distance was 57'�". Which brings us to a favorite trivia question of track and field nuts: What's the shortest time anybody has held a world record?
Well, it's not only a favorite question but also a sneaky one. It can be argued that during the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, Olga Rukavishnikova of the Soviet Union held the world pentathlon record for exactly four-tenths of a second. The last pentathlon event was the 800-meter run, and another Soviet entrant, Olga Kuragina, won that race in 2:03.6, winding up with 4,875 points, 17 better than her own world record. Rukavishnikova was the runner-up in the 800 in 2:04.8, but had scored well enough in earlier events to place ahead of Kuragina overall, with 4,937 points. But the U.S.S.R.'s Nadyezhda Tkachenko, by placing third in the 800 in 2:05.2, took the gold medal with a world-record 5,083 points. Because the governing body in the sport, the IAAF, takes the position that points in the pentathlon are officially totaled only after all events are completed, Kuragina and Rukavishnikova weren't credited with records. But some track buffs argue that each should be credited with a record for the time—1.2 seconds and four-tenths of a second, respectively—that elapsed between the moment one finished the 800 and the moment the succeeding runner did.
Compared with the four-tenths of a second Rukavishnikova can at least unofficially claim to have held the record, Cusmir's few minutes of glory in the long jump in Bucharest seem an eternity.