The Trend Through the Years in Sprints

>> February 15, 2017

Sprinting has grown immensely. The first winner of the Olympics did not run faster than 12.0h. Four years later in the 1900 Olympics, two men equaled the world record of 10.8 (hand-timed), which they achieved during the heats.

Both the winners of the 1932 and 1936 Olympics recorded 10.3h.

In the 1960s, 10.3h hand-timed means you are a world class.

In the 1960s and 1970s, if you wish to run the 100m in less than 10s, altitude is a must - at least this idea is deemed very crucial during that time. So, a good selection of racing venue was necessary.

Ben Johnson won 100m bronze in the 1984 Olympics in 10.24s. What is 10.24s at present?

In the 1990s 10.1 electric means world class. You won't find many people who could achieve sub 10.10, and if you do, these athletes must be well renowned already.

To run the 100m in 2000 Olympics, you would just need a 10.38s result. Before the year 2000s, there were only 20+ sprinters who have run sub-10s.


As indicated in the All-Time best for the 100m as of 2003, there were less than 40 sprinters who have done sub-10s.

Ten years later on the lists, more than 100 sprinters broke the 10s barrier.

Asafa Powell alone has totaled more than 100 races in under 10s.

Bolt, Gay, Blake, Powell, Gatlin have run 9.58, 9.69, 9.69, 9.72, and 9.74s, respectively.

A 10.12s is the current Olympic and Worlds standard.

I was interested to find out the trend of changes through the years that might be relevant to this evolution. Here we go.

Before 1980's - Complete genetics
  • Most of sprinters in the past are "born sprinters", which means they rely on genetics for their successes. 
  • The training limitation and culture did not allow them to train under the most effective environment and system that are available now.
  • Some athletes did benefit from better coaching from the great coaches in the past.

1980's - Strength and muscles
  • Because of the understanding that the muscles that you build could generate higher force and power.
  • The use of steroid facilitated this practice.
  • To run fast in sprints, you must develop muscles (kind of mindset).

1990's - Strength and power
  • Some good coaches started to realize it is the ability to maximize power output that matters than how much strength you have. 
  • A combination of muscles (strength) and power was thought to be essential.
  • Lack of understanding regarding the environment factor, that bigger athlete can deal better whenever the race is against the winds (headwinds).
  • Many people confused between strength and power during these days (unable to differentiate).
  • To break 10s in the 100m, you must develop muscles (kind of mindset).
2000's - Power
  • It was thought that fast turnover or cadence of legs is more crucial than having big muscles.
  • Tim Montgomery broke WR in 9.78s in 2002, "confirming" the belief.
2000's - Rate of force development
  • People started to think more critically, it is how much force you can produce in a short amount of time that could help you to run faster.
  • Sprinters in these days are generally not bigger in muscle sizing than those in the 1990s and 1980s.
2010's - Orientation of the force application
  • Marginal gains sort of thing - small things which can make a difference.
  • It's not only force and power, but it is how do you use it to make you a better sprinter.
  • The technique of force application can determine how properly and effectively the body can be propelled forward.
  • Efficiency in terms of using your "fuel" (strength and power) to "drive" quicker and faster.

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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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