Can Women Sprint or Run Faster than Men? Yes!

>> January 23, 2016

In early 1990's, scientists (Whip & Ward) said women will perform better than men in all running events by 2050.

Another scientist claimed that in 150 years (around 2150), a woman will run just slower than 8 seconds at 100m and it would be quick enough to beat the winning time of men's 100m at the Olympics.

So these are the two examples of extreme conclusion derived from the results of the model that they used, linear regression. By using the same model, you can predict that humans will eventually run the 200m in 2 seconds. Historical trends are important but they are not guaranteed to continue into the future.

World record holders at 100m, Usain Bolt and Florence Griffith-Joyner

One possible reason to see such data that women will do better than men could be because of the "performance revolution" or higher rate of improvement seen in women's sports performances in 1980's and 1990's after women's sports have grown in popularity and participation in 1960's and 1970's. They did not get the same opportunity as men in the past. In other words, women "started late."

But current opinion suggests that the world records have reached 99% of the human performance limits that can be reached within one generation.

It has also been reported that gender gap in the Olympic sports performance has been stable or unchanged since early 1980's.

Sprinting velocity is a product stride "length" and "frequency". But in maximal velocity sprint, the "frequency" (foots contact per second) is more relevant than the "length". Ben Johnson would produce similar steps (46.5) (stride length) to run 10.44 (1983) and 9.79 (1988) at 100m. The "frequency" can be influenced by the ground contact time that is determined by the speed of contraction (of muscle fibres contractile properties).

To run 8 seconds in 100m would require a huge (double?) change of muscle fibres (the contractile properties) that will influence the force generating capacity, which will then determine the production of the required (huge) amount of power. This increment (double!) is only possible with a significant increase of muscle mass. If Usain Bolt weighs 94kg, this 8-second sprinter (a woman) would sprint with a body mass of 115kg. The average body mass of the women's 100m Olympic finalists is 56kg.

In elite level, even with the most systematic training provided to athletes, the muscle fibres are nearly unaltered or altered very very little.

Men are apparently more powerful than women because of muscle mass (greater). This is because men have ~10 times higher testosterone concentration than women.

Because we are probably near to "upper end" of human performance limits, for sprint and running (to limit the scope of this discussion), women can surely run faster than men athletes, but the fastest men athletes will always superior than the fastest women athletes. Women performance at high level will not match those of men.

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ASIAN LEADERS (Men)

100m 9.91 Su Bingtian CHN, Madrid
200m 20.16 Xie Zhenye CHN, Osaka
400m 44.07 Abdalelah Haroun QAT, London
800m 1:45.65 Jinson Johnson IND, Guwahati
1500m 3:34.55 Sadik Mikhou BRN, Paris
5000m 13:01.09 Birhanu Yemataw BRN, Lausanne
10000m 27:38.16 Hassan Chani BRN, Maia
Mar 2:06.11 Yuta Shitara JPN, Tokyo
3000 Sc 8:22.00 Kosei Yamaguchi JPN, Abashiri
110mh 13.36 Ahmad Al-Mouaed KSA, Praha
400mh 46.98 Abderrahman Samba QAT, Paris
HJ 2.40 Mutaz Barshim QAT, Doha
PV 5.71 Xue Changrui CHN, Shanghai
LJ 8.47A Wang Jianan CHN, Guiyang
TJ 17.22 Dong Bin CHN, Eugene OR
SP 20.24 Tejinder Singh IND, Patiala
DT 68.85 Ehsan Hadidi IRI, Chula Vista CA
HT 78.18 Dilshod Nazarov TJK, Chorzow
JT 87.43 Neeraj Chopra IND, Doha
Dec 7948 Keisuke Ushiro JPN, Gotzis
20kmW 1:17:26 Eiki Takahashi JPN, Kobe
50kmW 3:44:25 Hiroki Arai JPN, Taichang
4x100m 37.85 Japan Team JPN, Osaka
4x400m 3:04.05 India Team IND, Gold Coast
RED = World Leader

STATISTICS

STATISTICS

ASIAN LEADERS (Women)

100m 10.99 Wei Yongli CHN, Resisprint
200m 22.73 Viktoriya Zyabkina KAZ, Almaty
400m 49.08 Salwa Eid Naser BRN, Monaco
800m 2:02.23 Manal Bahraoui BRN, Duffel
1500m 4:11.55 P.U Chitra IND, Guwahati
5000m 15:10.91 Rina Nabeshima JPN, Eugene OR
10000m 31:52.42 Mizuki Matsuda JPN, Yamaguchi
Mar 2:22.44 Mizuki Matsuda JPN, Osaka
3000 Sc 9:10.74 Winfred Yavi BRN, Monaco
100mh 13.08 Wu Shuijiao CHN, Shanghai
400mh 55.54 Aminat Odeyemi BRN, Goleniow
HJ 1.91 Nadzehda Dusanova UZB, Tashkent
PV 4.60 Li Ling CHN, London
LJ 6.64A Xu Xiaoling CHN, Guiyang
TJ 14.25 Olga Rypakova KAZ, Paris
SP 20.38A Gong Lijiao CHN, Guiyang
DT 67.03 Chen Yang CHN, Osterode
HT 75.02 Luo Na CHN, Halle
JT 67.69 Lu Huihui CHN, Halle
Hep 5898 Purnima Hembram IND, Guwahati
20kmW 1:26:28 Qieyang Shenjie CHN, La Coruna

Statistics


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