A unique event occurred at the 2012 London Olympics. It wasn’t just that Usain Bolt broke the 100-meter run. In addition, 7 out of 8 participants finished less than 10 seconds. Something unprecedented. Several factors, including science, have contributed. How does science help sprinters break records? Here we tell you.
Science + technology = speed
The number of “under-10” runners has exploded in recent years. The corresponding barrier for women is 11 seconds. And it breaks down more and more often. Steve Haake is Professor of Sports Technology at Sheffield Hallam University (UK). He explains, “The science and technology of sport improve the chances of running faster.”
Today’s sprinters run in lighter shoes. The latest models can weigh less than 150 grams. Your materials are radically different. The German Puma footwear and the Mercedes Formula 1 team worked on a model. They made running shoes with carbon fiber soles.
Running routes have also come a long way from the start. Synthetic tracks made their Olympic debut at the 1968 Mexico Games. They offer more protection for the athletes’ joints. And they enable faster times. There the American sprinter Jim Hines managed a feat. He was the first person to run the 100-meter sprint in less than 10 seconds.
The Italian surface manufacturer Mondo also emerged victorious at the 2008 Beijing Games. He celebrated the 5 world records on the track that he set for the athletics competition.
Science also influenced diet and exercise. The most important muscles for sprinters are identified. Loughborough University in the UK is a leader in sports science. He found that the gluteus muscle is the key for athletes to reach top speeds.
The Japanese sprinter Ryota Yamagata has no doubts about that. In his 100-meter run, he cracked the 10-second mark. He says it’s “the work of scientists over the past 20 years”. Until 2017, no Japanese sprinter had overcome the barrier. Since then, Yamagata and three other compatriots have overcome the barrier.
Sprinters from the USA and Jamaica have dominated the podium in Olympic races since 1980. But knowing how science helps sprinters makes one dream of diversifying this hegemony.
Of course, it’s not just about science. The effort and competitiveness of the athletes always come first. But a little scientific help doesn’t hurt.