At Athens, all clocks are on 100-meter dashPeople call the men’s 100-meter sprint the human bullet competition. For many, it is the highlight of the Olympic Games.
To date, the record is held by Tim Montgomery, an American, who ran it in 9.78 seconds at the 2002 Paris Grand Prix. Montgomery failed to qualify for the group of U.S. track and field athletes heading to the Athens Games, which goes to show that there are plenty of other Americans who can run the 100-meter dash in under 10 seconds.
World records for the 100-meter were first kept at the 1912 Stockholm Olym-pics, at which time Donald Lippincott of the United States clocked a 10.06 in a preliminary contest for the world’s first authorized 100 meter sprint record (though he only took a bronze medal in the Olympic medal competition, trailing behind Americans Ralph Craig and Alvin Meyer).
The “devilish wall of 10 seconds” was torn down 56 years later by the American Jim Hines, who clocked a 9.95 at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. That collapse was perhaps preordained by Armin Hary of Germany, who recorded a 10-second time at a Zurich track event eight years earlier.
So how low can this record go? In 1976, H.W. Ryder, an American sports physiologist, observed that since 1925, the record for the 100 meter was being lowered at an average rate of one-hundredth of a second per year. If such a trend were to continue, he argued, the record would drop to 9.32 seconds in 2028.
Meanwhile, some sports physiologists see 9.15 seconds as a potential limit, though presently such a speed is unimaginable. Experts at a Russian sports science institute opined that with sports science leading to advances in lung capacity and improved running form, the record could drop to 9.70.
More recently, scientists believe that 9.50 seconds is the “dream record,” which could be delivered only by a human with all the merits of the best sprinters the world has known.
Only a person with the body and ankles of Carl Lewis, Ben Johnson’s thigh muscles, the calf muscles of Donovan Bailey and the reflexes of Naim Suleymanoglu might make this dream a reality. There’s another requirement of course ― that this hypothetical person maximize his potential through rigorous scientific training.
Runners who finish the 100 meter sprint in the 9-second range complete the race within 45 steps, at an estimated pitch (steps per second) of 4.4, and strides exceeding 2.2 meters (7.2 feet). From the start until they cross the finish line, they do not breathe. When Carl Lewis clocked a 9.92 at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, his stride was 2.29 meters and his pitch, 4.4. With an average speed of 10.08 meters per second, he finished the race in 43.6 steps.
bg Hur Jin-seok