New 100m world record
September 15, 2002 10:13 AM   Subscribe

New 100m world record
"Once again, the 100m record holder is truly the fastest man on earth"
posted by daveg (19 comments total)
Despite the increase in drug testing in athletics, the 100m has seen a large speed increase in the last decade. Is this due to 'legal drugs' (food supplements. etc.), better training techniques, something in people's 'background diet', or are drug cheats just becoming more successful?
posted by daveg at 10:20 AM on September 15, 2002

that's nothing. a runner in my school once clocked 8 secs over the same distance.

of course, they discovered that the stopwatch was a faulty one, and his record-breaking run was not certified :-)

on a more serious note though, i am interested in knowing how far can humans go in setting records. would we reach a day when no more records would ever get broken again because we have already gone as far as we could?
posted by arrowhead at 10:23 AM on September 15, 2002

They really harp on the sea-level issue. Running at altitude is hardly cheating. As long as it's flat... I'm trying to imagine the 100 meter 50% grade run.
posted by Wood at 10:31 AM on September 15, 2002

How many of these world records have you watched on TV? I saw Donovan Bailey live in 96 (in the middle of the night) and the TV was on saturday. The commentators went ballistic.
posted by Baud at 11:16 AM on September 15, 2002

Altitude is not cheating (according to the rules), but it does have a profound influence on times (1.5-2.0%? - the calculator suggests less than that). Of course the 2 m/s wind would have had a bigger affect.
posted by daveg at 11:16 AM on September 15, 2002

"Monty thanks 'guardian angel'"

What is that? Some sort of drug? I wholeheartedly believe that a large majority of professional atheletes use some sort of questionable performance-enhancing drug. Maybe we oughtta just let 'em use all the drugs they want and see how far they can push the human body.
posted by hobbes at 12:00 PM on September 15, 2002

I am for sure no athlete and know little about races but to announce that some guy is "the fastest man on earth" raises the important issue: how fast can he run a mile? How fast a marathon? etc Or is what is being said is that he is the fastest competitor in a particular type of event (sprinting )?
posted by Postroad at 12:48 PM on September 15, 2002

postroad - it's a traditional title, not an exact description (there were similar discussions when bailey had the record, because some americans felt it should go to michael johnson (undoubtedly a brilliant athlete) who held (still holds?) the 200 and 400m records).

yeah, hobbes, i agree - it's depressingly likely they're all on drugs.
posted by andrew cooke at 1:18 PM on September 15, 2002

I think that the "fastest" epithet is based on who achieves the greatest speed. The argument for Michael Johnson to be the fastest was based on his 200m record (19.32s - average 37.27 km/h, vs 9.78s/100m - average 36.81 km/h), although the highest speed during either race can exceed 40km/h (the winner doesn't always reach the highest speed).
posted by daveg at 1:38 PM on September 15, 2002

it's depressingly likely they're all on drugs.

I disagree. Look, athletics is everything to these people. They derive all meaning in life from pushing their physical and mental limits. There are some athletes, I'm sure, that see drugs as a valid way to push your physical limits, and there are some that are so caught up in winning they'll do whatever it takes. But I think a significant percentage of athletes would feel like their life's work was meaningless if it was accomplished with drugs.
posted by lbergstr at 1:54 PM on September 15, 2002

a significant percentage of accountants at Arthur Anderson would feel like their life's wor....

ah... never mind, you see where I'm going.
posted by cadastral at 2:41 PM on September 15, 2002

so what about pro cyclists? they're not athletes? they don't care? (i'm assuming everyone accepts that drug abuse and related practices (blood boosts etc) is the norm in that sport). do we assume amateur athletics are ok? even when there's a $100,000 purse at this grand prix? what makes track+field different from cyclists?

i'd honestly like to believe t+f drug free - i run myself and consider a good (middle/long distance) runner in full flow to be a beautiful sight - but if your version was true, wouldn't you get the non drug using athletes reporting the others, for example?
posted by andrew cooke at 2:46 PM on September 15, 2002

a significant percentage of accountants at Arthur Anderson

Were honest. No, really. Not everyone at the company knew what was going on.
posted by lbergstr at 2:49 PM on September 15, 2002

so what about pro cyclists?...what makes track+field different from cyclists?

I'm not sure, really. Social effects? In team sports, there's always the possibility of the team -- or in this case, the most of the sport -- creating its own little moral universe in which doping is ok.

Still no evidence that Lance is doping, though. :)

To argue, as you and hobbes did, that all or most pro athletes are on drugs you'd have to believe either that all humans will cheat to win or that athletes are, as a group, more evil than normal humans.

wouldn't you get the non drug using athletes reporting the others, for example?

Hm, I seem to remember what kind of treatment snitches got at my grade school. Also, what makes you think they know? Maybe people are casual about mentioning it in cycling, but I doubt they are in Olympic-level track and field.
posted by lbergstr at 2:59 PM on September 15, 2002

I see the convergence of a lot of hard work and good fortune in this particular instance.

This article from CNNSi discusses the raw talent Montgomery had in college, but had previously been unsuccessful at tapping into. Training under a world-class coach like Trevor Graham (who also coaches Marion Jones) likely helped make the difference in his improvement. According to reports, Montgomery's reacton time at the start was extremely fast.

Also worth mentioning are the nearly perfect weather conditions for the day, including as high a tailwind allowable in an officially recognized effort.

With all these factors in his favor, Montgomery only lowered the world record by a scant one-hundredth of a second.
posted by LinusMines at 3:24 PM on September 15, 2002

i wasn't going to post again, but i just want to correct one point - i certainly don't mean to imply that all athletes use drugs, i just assume that the very best are using them. if drugs do give an advantage then, presumably, those that use them will win out. so they automatically self select.

in other words, there could well be a majority of clean athletes but, simply because they're clean, they're not going to make it to the very top. so those that do get to the top, then, are not a random selection of "ordinary" people.

(oh, and also, even if they were all on drugs, i'd still reserve the word "evil" for something a tad more serious, like killing people.)
posted by andrew cooke at 3:33 PM on September 15, 2002

I suppose altitude can become a serious factor if a runner trains at higher altitudes and runs at sea level. Increased blood haemoglobin would improve his aerobic efficiency.
posted by matrix77 at 4:01 PM on September 15, 2002

This is such a positive story, compared to many of the ones in the headlines today, that it took me all day to finally read it. Good for Montgomery and thanks for the link!
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:58 PM on September 15, 2002

From my understanding there is little to no aerobic activity happening during a 100 meter race, so I don't think this applies to such a short distance. A race that lasts less than 10 seconds doesn't provide the body enough time to process much oxygen and send it to the muscles. It's almost like lifting weights at that speed and distance - all anaerobic.
posted by stoic at 12:02 AM on September 17, 2002

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