Jamaican Usain Bolt broke the Olympic record on the 100 m sprint yesterday with 9.63 seconds, making it the second time he has won the gold medal in the Olympics. He has also broken the world record in 2009, with a time of 9.58 seconds. Nobody had expected someone to run that fast. More extraordinary, it appears that Bolt could go even faster and perhaps make it under 9.5 seconds. We’ll have to wait to see that, though.
Since the first Modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896, technique and technology have become increasingly better. It is now possible to look at the movement of an athlete in slowmotion (have you all seen the super slowmotion of the speedwalking contest, which showed that none of the competitors followed the rules: all had a flight moment in which neither of the feet touched the ground). I will do a blog post about technology and sport later in time, so let’s focus on the effects for now. In swimming, new swimsuits were developed that allowed players to go even faster. These were banished by FINA (Fédération Internationale du Natation, the international swimming federation), but many world records had already been broken using these new suits. Some people in these Olympic games have again broken these records, using the older textile, which makes it even more remarkable.
The 100 metres sprint has been included in the Modern Olympic Games since the first occurence. Technology and technique have changed this sport as well. Better training, training equipment and better shoes. A better analysis of technique with video analysis. So many possibilities. And it has led to great improvements in time, with the WR by Bolt in 2009 shocking the world. They had not expected someone to run this fast in at least ten years. But here came Bolt. I can explain it to you, but this video by the New York Times shows it much better.
What do you think? Is it possible to go even faster? Perhaps to run under 9 seconds over 100 meter? What is the limit?