1981 in sports

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1981 in sports describes the year's events in world sport.

Men's professional

Men's amateur

Women's professional

  • August 30 – John Henry becomes the first horse to win a million dollar race, the inaugural Arlington Million, at Arlington Park in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights, Illinois.
  • November – inaugural running of the Japan Cup, the most prestigious horse race in Japan, at Tokyo Racecourse in Fuchu, Tokyo. Its distance is about 1½ miles on turf and it is the world's richest turf race.


Flat races

Quarter Horse Racing

  • August 15 – USA's Robin Leamy of UCLA sets a world record time of 22.54 in the 50m freestyle (long course) at Brown Deer, Wisconsin, shaving 0.17 off the previous record (22.71) set by Joseph Bottom exactly one year ago in Honolulu, Hawaii




  1. ^ "Epsom Derby | History, Winners, & Facts | Britannica". www.britannica.com. Retrieved 4 January 2022.