When will athletes reach their physical limit?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

WASHINGTON - Year after year, the sports fraternity witnesses old records being broken, be it in swimming or running. But what is the limit of this human physical ability? Will runners continue to accelerate off the starting blocks and reach the finish line in faster and faster times?

South Korean researchers Yu Sang Chang and Seung Jin Baek of the KDI School of Public Policy and Management in Seoul used linear regression and analyzed data from sports events over the last century and came to the conclusion that we may have finally reached the upper limit.

They have found the “time to limit” to be somewhere between 7.5 and 10.5 years, so we may still see records being broken at the 2012 Olympics in London and perhaps at Rio 2016, but maybe not after that.

Countless researchers have previously suggested that humans have a performance limit, Bolt’s 9.58 second 100m shattered the previous theoretical running speed limit of 9.60s suggested 40 years ago.

“The limit of speed in sport events has been a popular topic for the public because watching athletes setting new records to win is exciting and stimulating for many sport fans,” Chang and Baek said.

“In addition, setting new world records may even be inspiring to the public because the process of improving and winning the competition reminds them of what they can accomplish in their own life.”

Results suggest that improvements in running and swimming are slowing down and will eventually reach a maximum in the time period. However, their analysis does not take into account changes in the rules, measurements, and environmental conditions.

If the governing federations move the starting blocks as it were, Michael Phelps’ prediction that there are no limits may come true and athletes will continue to make a splash in the record books indefinitely.

The study appears in the International Journal of Applied Management Science. (ANI)

Filed under: Olympic Games

will not be displayed