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August 17, 2009

9.58 & the Limits of Performance – Usain Bolt

Rock that! this, from Science of Sport

The limits to performance

As mentioned last night, it’s still just too early to produce any kind of 10m splits, though hopefully the buzz will speed up the release of those numbers (if you have them, let me know!)

And, as is customary when a world record is broken, people are turning to the next world record and asking how low can it go? Bolt himself said that he could run 9.4s. Like Haile Gebrselassie’s prediction of a 2:03 marathon, a lot depends on whether you believe that 9.4s means 9.40s or 9.49s.

I certainly think something below 9.50 sec is possible, though it starts to approach what I believe is a limit for performance. Last year, some scientists predicted that the ceiling existed at 9.48s, although those predictions always come back to haunt scientists! Peter Weyand once threw out a figure of 6 seconds, though I think we can safely say that’s not going to happen.

One year ago, 9.58s was hypothetical only, and Bolt has pushed the event forward by two generations in one year (it was exactly a year, to the day, between Beijing and Berlin, incidentally. Bolt must enjoy August 16th). So given that improvement, why not 9.4s by 2010? I somehow don’t see it improving that much so soon, but perhaps small increments, and given a long career, Bolt might yet go sub-9.50s. Certainly, not much seems impossible for Usain Bolt, though there is so much hype and lack of objectivity around, it’s difficult to tease out real from make-believe!

Amazing. Another great article of Bolt vs Gay (that’s Tyson Gay not some rumor of ill intent) can be found here.

UNREAL! I really enjoyed that. It will power me through my afternoon session.

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