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Monday, August 17, 2009

Analysis of Bolt's 9.58 WR

Analysis of Bolt's 9.58 World Record

As promised, as soon as the results and split times from Bolt's unbelievable 9.58s performance were available, we'd be analysing them

Turns out they became available rather quickly (not 9.58s kind of quick, but quick nevertheless). So here is the analysis of Bolt's race.

All the splits

First of all, here is the table published by the IAAF this morning, containing all the splits and times for 20m intervals, for both the semi-final and final:

Next up, some graphs to highlight certain things a little better. Below is a graph showing the 20m interval times for the top 3: Bolt-Gay-Powell

It reveals how Bolt achieved the fastest split at all intervals, which is amazing considering his supposed slow start. He led the race at 20m, and continued to grow that lead. I have shown his times on the chart:


The relatively slow first 20m (because of the start) makes interpreting the last 80m of the race quite difficult, so I've taken the liberty of looking only at the last 4 intervals, for a more obvious comparison between Bolt, Gay and Powell. It makes the point that Bolt was dominant from start to finish, as shown below.


Translating those times into speeds is a simple but interesting exercise (shown in the graph below), because you then perceive just how fast the top end speed is. For Bolt, the fastest interval (60m to 80m) was run at an average speed of 44.72km/hour. If you're wondering how that compares to last year in Beijing, read on...


The next graph shows the gap between Bolt and Gay and Powell for each 20m interval. I felt this would be interesting to look at because it would show whether Bolt did all the damage early and then held the lead, or whether he grew the margin progressively through the race. It turns out to be the latter option - he builds a lead at each interval. It's 0.03s/20m for the first 40m (over Gay, that is), and then Gay makes something of a comeback (but never actually closes the gap, he just limits its growth), before losing another 0.03 seconds in the final 20m.

For Powell, the margin grew steadily throughout the race, and opened up at an increasing rate after 60m. The comparison is interesting because it serves to highlight:
a) How incredible Bolt was, from start to finish of the race - who'd have thought he'd lead at 20m?
b) How well Gay did to hold onto Bolt as much as he did


A comparison between Berlin and Beijing

Now, for the comparison everyone has been making already - how does Berlin 2009 compare to Beijing 2008?

I must confess that I'm a little skeptical of the Beijing figures - at the time, there was some contention about the accuracy of these splits, because they were worked out from TV footage, whereas the latest Berlin result is a very specific research study, and thus (you'd think), more accurate. However, it's an interesting comparison, but just keep in mind that there may be some error in the Beijing numbers (you'll see what I mean below)

First the split times. I've looked at Bolt in Berlin, Bolt in Beijing, and then Gay in Berlin as well.

What it shows is that Bolt's first 20m in Berlin was actually slower than his first 20m in Beijing (now you see why I'm skeptical). Anyone who saw last night will testify that Bolt started brilliantly in Berlin, and so I can't believe he was slower to 20m. However, from then on, he's faster, and by 60m, is 1/100th of a second ahead of "himself in Beijing", then four hundreths by 80m, and adds another 0.09s to that gap in the final 20m.


As for the Berlin Top 3 comparison, here are the gaps at each 20m marker, but this time Bolt's performance in Beijing has been added (in green). Positive numbers mean Bolt is ahead (as was the case the whole way in Berlin!) and negative means behind, as the splits suggest for 20m compared to his Beijing run. So Bolt was behind at 20m (by 0.02s), slightly ahead at 40m, then grew the lead, to 0.04s at 80m, and ended up 0.11 seconds ahead of his Beijing time at the finish line.


Once again, here are the speeds based on the available times - they show that Bolt in Berlin hit a higher speed at 60 to 80m than in Beijing. I've indicated Bolt's speeds on the graph, and the smaller number at each point is the speed of Tyson Gay, just for comparison purposes.

So I suppose the question is: Does this prove that Bolt lost 0.07s by slowing down in Beijing, since this was the difference over the last 20m? The answer - of course not, no. His last 20m in Berlin was 0.07s faster than in Beijing, but he had reached a higher peak speed at 80m (well, strictly, it's his average from 60m to 80m that is higher), and so the degree to which he increased his "lead" over his Beijing performance is a little exaggerated - it's not an equal comparison because the starting value is greater. Therefore, I would still argue that he only lost about 0.03 to 0.05 seconds in Beijing as was written at the time, based on the assumption that at best, he'd have kept going at the same speed (this is best case scenario).

There is a lot more to be said, I unfortunately have a pressing deadline, so I'll have to say it later!

Until then, thanks for the comments!

Ross

P.S. One thing I didn't mention in the original post (and should have) is the difference in wind speed between Beijing (0.0m/s) and Berlin (0.9m/s tailwind). So here is a comment from Rob, which pretty much summarizes the impact:

One thing that I think needs mentioning is the effect of the tailwind, which was 0.9 m/s in Berlin and 0 m/s in Beijing. This might account for why Bolt/Gay in Berlin had higher top speeds than Bolt in Beijing -- at least based on your graph results (the other factor is the Bolt might have already started celebrating before the 80m mark in Beijing!).

Secondly, if we adjust for the affect of the 0.9m/s tail wind [Ross: this depends a little on which 'formula' you use to adjust for win, but it illustrates the point well enough, and the numbers are about right], Bolt would have run 9.62 instead of 9.58, which isn't much different than a possible 9.64 in Beijing had he run through the finish line. Tyson Gay's adjusted time in Berlin would have been 9.75.

50 Comments:

Anonymous said...

Note that the current 60m (indoor) world record is 6.39.....

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know the stride rate and length?

Ross Tucker and Jonathan Dugas said...

Hi Anonymous

I certainly do - he took 41 steps in the race, which equates to 4.28 steps per second, and an average step length of 2.44m

However, that's misleading, because obviously that includes the first say 10 steps, where he is really accelerating and so the length is much shorter.

I don't know what the stride length is at peak speed. I suppose one can work it out now that we know the split times. I'll do that this afternoon, when I can watch the race again and get back to you later today.

Regards
Ross

Joon said...

wow, that 20m comparison between berlin and beijing really does look suspect, doesn't it? if bolt really got out of the blocks slower than last year, that means everybody else got out much slower than last year. i can't imagine that's possible, given gay's 9.71 and powell's 9.84.

Ross Tucker and Jonathan Dugas said...

Hi John

Right on, that's what I thought. I can see that gay might be a bit slow out the blocks, since he struggled all through the heats as well, with what seemed to be an injury.

However, for Powell, Thompson, Chambers et al to be slower as well - that makes me wonder.

I remember at the time, there was some discussion around the accuracy of those splits. Like I said, they were worked out by those physicists, based on TV footage, and while I think they did the best they could, there must have been some error!

Ciao
Ross

mcgrathe said...

Very interesting stuff guys, those splits make for fascinating viewing. One thing I noticed was that his great start in the final was still the third slowest of the field. If he could match Thompson's reaction time, that could knock nearly another 3 hundredths off his time, although it's probably a little difficult to start adding up different sectors and projecting times from that.
Back in the aftermath of Beijing, you talked about the fallacy of assuming continuing acceleration in the final 20m of the race when calculating time lost by looking around. Do you think (given his 200m strength) that Bolt can maintain his 60-80 speed over the final 20m if he kept pushing? It is certainly interesting to note that nobody else was capable of doing this - further highlighting the rubbish talked about after Beijing.

It's also fascinating to look at how good Bolt's first 40 is. Comparing his semi 9.89 with Darvis Patton's semi 9.98, the interval from 40-100 was covered in roughly the same time by both men (Patton actually 1/100th quicker). For such a big man, it is truly amazing how he manages to have such a good pickup. The latter half of his race can be explained (sort of) by his longer stride - compare the head on shot of him with Gay's legs working much faster next to him, but if you're going to work out stride length, I'd be very interested in seeing Gay's legspeed analysed as well.
Really awesome performance, more to come in the 200m I hope.

Ross Tucker and Jonathan Dugas said...

Hi McGrathe

Good points all around. I'm definitely going to play around with the splits now that I have them and see if I can work out how many strides he took for each 20m interval, and his leg speed.

As for that acceleration, I don't believe anyone can maintain their speed all the way through 100m. I know some are saying Bolt eased up in Berlin, I think he may have cost himself 0.01s, but not more and this was pretty much maximal. I have seen analyses from 3 world championship finals, which means 24 athletes, and never ever has a sprinter managed to speed up from 80m to 100m, so I don't believe it is possible - physiology wins and we slow down.

Some slow down less than others, and that's Bolt's advantage (one of them)!

The 200m splits will make fascinating reading. That will be a very cool comparison to be able to make!

Ross

Anonymous said...

Fantastic stuff, thanks for posting this analysis!

One thing that I think needs mentionning is the affect of the tailwind, which was 0.9 m/s in Berlin and 0 m/s in Beijing. This might account for why Bolt/Gay in Berlin had higher top speeds than Bolt in Beijing -- at least based on your graph results (the other factor is the Bolt might have already started celebrating before the 80m mark in Beijing!).

Secondly, if we adjust for the affect of the 0.9m/s tail wind, Bolt would have run 9.62 instead of 9.58, which isn't much different than a possible 9.64 in Beijing had he run through the finish line. Tyson Gay's adjusted time in Berlin would have been 9.75.

Under perfect legal conditions (1.9 m/s tailwind and 999m altitude), one would expect shave off approximately 0.1 seconds off a 100m time; 0.08s of which would be due to the effect of the tailwind and 0.02s from the decreased wind resistance at altitude (assuming oxygen delivery to muscle is not impaired at altitude).

Food for thought. Thanks again for sharing your analysis.

Regards
Rob

Ross Tucker and Jonathan Dugas said...

Hey Rob

Thanks for that - you're absolutely right, I should have included something about it. I might just go back and add it. In fact, I think I'll just copy your comment into the main post to make the point.

Thanks for reading!
Ross

Ralph said...

Very simply, and unscientifically, if 100 meters takes 10 seconds, 10m takes 1 second and 1 meter takes 0.1 second.

Just watching the race a couple of times, the fact that Bolt looks from side to side a couple of times, and seems to step off the gas about 2 strides out to some extent (don't you think?), then surely, surely, he could take a metre off. Which is at least 0.1 seconds... And clearly its more than that, given that the 1st 20m is slower than even the last 20m..?

So why would he not have tried for that extra 0.1 seconds?

Perhaps because he'll earn more by leaving it until a paying meet..?

Ralph said...

On a different subject, is there any precedent for reinstating Jepkoskei? I'm glad they did, but surely it can't be right? What if it had happened in the opening 10m?

How is this fairer than the Colombian sprinter unfairly affected by the Frenchman's false start?

(For the record, I don't think Budd tripped Decker, but I think the latter's behaviour afterwards had a terrible impact on Budd's psyche...)

Dallas Cowboys Picks said...

Great visualization of this data. Its incredible bolt is this fast with another WR and was so under the radar until the olympics, with everyone talking about powell and gay. I cant wait to see if he can break 9.4, impossible.

GMC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr. Giorgos Paradisis said...

THANK YOU A LOT FOR THE INFO REGARDING THE STRIDE LENGTH ROSS, I LOOOKING FORWARD TO SEE THE ANALYSIS FOR THE STRIDE LENGTH IN THE PEAK SPEED!

GWR said...

Fascinating level of detail and analysis. It would be great to be able see this for climbs in cycling.
I'd like to be a little peevish and suggest that your post on 'Performance analysis and doping: A new weapon, and some striking patterns' has never been more relevant. One can only speculate what universal out-of-competition testing in sprinting would have on the times recorded.

Giovanni Ciriani said...

I deleted and reposted my previous comment (hadn't checked the numbers well).
To calculate the hypothetical Beijing performance, can't we just look at the fact that in Berlin he ran 80-100 0.01 below what it took for 40-60? Then replace Beijing's 80-100 time for Beijing's 40-60 time and subtract 0.01s? Since in Beijing he ran the last 20 meters 0.02 slower than his 40-60 split, I obtain a hypothetical total time of 9.66 instead than the 9.69 he clocked.

Jet Wan said...

regarding bolt being "slower" in berlin than his own run in beijing.

I think we should grab whatever lousy data we have from the other beijing runners to see if they're strong starters but faded and hence the slower times in beijing.

The data in beijing might suck but that should theoretically equally affect all 8 beijing runners?

Carlos said...

A great analytical work. Now, it would be interesting to see a comparison between Gay and Bolt in regards to their turnover and stride lenght. I think Bolt is a unique sprinter since, per my observations He has a slower turnover than Gay. One year ago, I said Bolt was going to do more amazing things in the years to come. As he develops a higher turnover, we might be seing the first human running under 19 seconds before the next Olympics!

nsxdarin said...

I assume you could get a 40yd dash time by doing an area under the curve approximation for the graph available at the IAAF site that shows the LAVEG curve of his race. Take the area under the curve at 40 yards (36 or so meters) divided into the total area, then subtract his reaction time as 40yd dashes do require a reaction time, correct? They just start the timer when the runner starts?

mcgrathe said...

Thanks for the reply Ross, but if you have a look at the figures, I'd have to disagree with you on the premise that Bolt slows down less than others in the last 20m. Disregarding any celebration mathematics - I generally think that they're overestimates anyway, Bolt's last 20m was .05s slower than his 60-80.
This compares to .06 for Gay, Powell and Chambers; .05 for Bailey and .04 for Thompson and Burns. In fact, only Patton (clearly slowing down) ran his last 20 more than .05s slower than his fastest.
Bolt's top end speed is stunning, but he doesn't seem to able to maintain it any more than the rest can...

Ross Tucker and Jonathan Dugas said...

Hi McGrathe

I'm not sure I follow...

You are saying that Bolt does not seem to be able to maintain his speed more than anyone else can...

That's exactly my point regarding his ability to accelerate, as you pointed out. So not sure where you disagree...

Maybe with respects to Bolt not slowing down as much - point taken there. He certainly maintains his speed, which was higher to begin with, so relatively, I guess yes, he doesn't differ.

Ross

Anonymous said...

I'm quite shure that in Beijing he already started to slow down well before the 80 meter line.
Also your times suggest this, as you have the same time for the third split and a 0,03 seconds slower fourth split time.

@Giovanni Ciriani
From the numbers I read here. he run the last split in Beijing 0,06 slower than the third split. (Not 0,02)

Giovanni Ciriani said...

@Anonymous
I'm not comparing the 4th to the 5th split, but the 3rd to the 5th. If you observe in Berlin his 3rd split(40-60m) is 1.67 and his 5th (80-100m) is 1.66, i.e. 0.01s faster. I then use this comparison as a predictor of what he would have run in Beijing. At the Olympics his 40-60m was (0.85+0.84)=1.69. Subtracting 0.01s, my predictor technique gives me 1.68s for his 80-100m in Beijing, which instead he ran in 1.71 =(0.85+0.86). This is a time 0.03s better than what he ran.

Anonymous said...

Hey everyone. Please see the attached link to see Bolts 10m split times, LAVEG measurement curve, and Vmax. Too bad they didn't include Tyson Gay's times for comparison.

http://berlin.iaaf.org/mm/document/development/research/05/31/54/20090817073528_httppostedfile_analysis100mmenfinal_bolt_13666.pdf

Bolt Beijing Berlin
React 0.165 0.146
0-10m 1.85 1.89
10-20m 1.02 0.99
20-30m 0.91 0.9
30-40m 0.87 0.86
40-50m 0.85 0.83
50-60m 0.82 0.82
60-70m 0.82 0.81
70-80m 0.82 0.82
80-90m 0.83 0.83
90-100m 0.9 0.83
Time 9.69 9.58

Anonymous said...

@Giovanni Ciriani

But I'm quite shure the numbers shown in the diagram and described in the text say that his Beijing times were:
40-60m - 1,67 (not 1,69)
80-100m - 1,73 (not 1,71)

Also the 10m split times in the post below yours say so. (Even though I wasn't able to follow the link)

Anonymous said...

@anonymous

The 10m berlin split times you posted do not exactly match the 20 metres split times published earlier.

00-20 m gives a 2,88 instead of a 2,89
20-40 m gives a 1,76 insteda of a 1,75
40-60 m gives a 1,65 instead of a 1,67
60-80 m gives a 1,63 instead of a 1,61

Giovanni Ciriani said...

@Anonymous & anonymous.
I don't know if the split times I used in my projection are the correct ones. I just took them from this blog. At any rate my prediction method for the time in Beijing shows a total 9.66 or 9.64 depending on the table used.

Anonymous said...

To get the 10m split times:

1) Go to http://berlin.iaaf.org
2) From the newsfeed on the mainpage, click on "Bolt's 100m World record analysed every 20 metres - Biomechanics Project, Berlin 2009"
3) Under related content, click on "Analysis of Bolt's 100 - Berlin 2009 - Race distribution: LAVEG measurement curve and average speed" - (PDF file)
4) Split times for Bolt & Powell for the 100m final are half way down the page.

Hope this helps.

Brendon500 said...

Here are bolts times I think if he has the perfect race he can run 9.49s or below


bolt 2009 2008 pred
reaction time 0.146 0.165
10m 1.89 1.85 0.04
20m 0.99 1.02 0.03
30m 0.9 0.91 0.01
40m 0.86 0.87 0.01
50m 0.83 0.85 0.02
60m 0.82 0.82 0
70m 0.81 0.82 0.01
80m 0.82 0.82 0.01
90m 0.83 0.83 0
100 0.83 0.9 0.07
9.58 9.69 9.49

Anonymous said...

"Dallas Cowboys Picks"- It only LOOKS like Bolt came out of nowhere, but honestly Bolt has been a prodigy since he was a child. He wasn't talked about as much in US media as Gay/Powell bec. he had been injured/slacked off when Gay/Powell were the story.

However, people in Jamaica have been looking at Bolt for years. I think at age 16 he set the fastest time ever. He was supposed to be a sensation much earlier than he was, but Beijing was his coming out party, so to speak.

Ross Tucker and Jonathan Dugas said...

Hello everyone!

THanks a lot for the great comments and insights on the post!

Sorry I haven't had time to respond, just been really busy at work and trying to follow the athletics!

Just one or two things:

First, those IAAF 10m splits are interesting, because they don't match the 20m splits, which is really weird! For example, the interval 60m to 80m should be covered in 1.61s, but the sum of the two times in the LAVEG analysis is 1.63s. Similarly, from 40m to 60m, you get either 1.65s or 1.67s, so I'm not sure what's going on there.

What is interesting, and thank you to anonymous (all of you!) for posting the times, is that from 20m onwards, Bolt was progressively faster than he had been in Beijing, and I'm not 100% sure I would agree that his first 20m was not faster. As I said in the post, I had my doubts about those Beijing figures at the time...

Anyway,the idea that you could 'mix' the races from Beijing and Berlin is interesting. First, you might be able to get an idea of what the Beijing time actually way, as Giovannia has pointed out. Second, it's interesting to take the fastest splits at each interval and then work out a best case race, as someone did to get a 9.49s. Obviously, the problem there is that a faster start (even by 0.08s) might not mean a faster finish is possible, but it's interesting nevertheless.

I am hoping to squeeze out some time to look at the stride rate and length in that last part of the race, which might be interesting, but depends on time!

Thanks again!
ROss

Frans Rutten said...

The Daily Telegraph: "Bolt can't outrun the sceptics".

Breaking down the ATWL 100m of 422 sub 10 performances, this season thus far contributes.

Only 10 athletes figure with 29 performances (about 7%).

Bolt, Gay and Powell own 16 out of 29 performances.

In the segment 9,58 to 9,91 forementioned atletes only figure.

In the range 1-10 Bolt is the Nr. 1and Gay figures twice (3 and 8).

In modern athletics figuring 3 performances in the top 10 = 30% is not common.

Figuring best performers isn't even rare, certainly in an event which has a 100 year history resp. development.

Should I not be sceptic?

Anonymous said...

Sergui Boubka has 10 of the top ten performances :-)

1.41 said...

so what were saying then,whoever reaches 60m first and decreases slowest wins,easy!

kanny said...

I don't have slowmo, but it looks like he takes about 12 steps in the first 20m (until ~2.8/9 sec). I know it's rough, but if he took 41 steps overall, that's 29 steps over the last 80m and around 9ft/2.75m per step. That's maddening!!

Oh yeah - if the math above is correct, that means his stride rate ends up being about 261 steps per min for the last 80m, which corresponds to the "Aural Secs" link to this page that syncs the Beatles, "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" (~262bpm) with his steps.

Anonymous said...

I am curious as to how Bolt’s 10 meter splits stack up to the best 10 meter splits ever. I really do not think this can be done accurately but it would be fun to compare. I can not find actual 10m split data from Bolt’s 9.72, Gay’s 9.71 or Asafa’s 9.74 and 9.72 for split comparison to Bolt’s 9.58. Does anyone know this info?

But, given what is available from X-King found here:
http://run-down.com/statistics/100m_top_splits.php
and from Jimpson Lee courtesy of SpeedEndurance.com found here: http://speedendurance.com/2008/08/22/usain-bolt-100m-10-meter-splits-and-speed-endurance/
and given that these and the 10meter splits from the LAVEG bio-mechanical analysis in Berlin are correct, then Bolt equaled or ran faster than the fastest recorded 10-20m, 30-40m, 40-50m, 50-60m, 60-70m, 70-80m, 80-90m, AND 90-100m splits of all time, in the same race!!!

Fastest 10m split times
on record
vs.___________________Usain Bolt 09
10-20m (Surin, 01Greene)
___________________1.00s_____0.99s
20-30m(99Greene)___0.89s_____0.90s
30-40m(99Greene,
05Asafa,08Bolt)_____0.86s_____0.86s
40-50m (Lewis,Fredericks,99Greene)
____________________0.84s____0.83s
50-60m (99,00Greene,
08 Bolt)_____________0.82s____0.82s
60-70m(08Bolt)_______0.82s___0.81s
70-80m(08Bolt)_______0.82s___0.82s
80-90m(08Bolt)_______0.83s___0.83s
90-100m(Lewis,99Greene) _____________________0.85s___0.83s

Bolt clearly has the fastest top end speed average than anyone in history (0.81s/10m).
He has 8 out of the 10 fastest 10 meter split times ever recorded.
He is able to maintain his ridiculous top end speed better than any other male elite sprint athlete ever, including Tyson Gay.
And depending on which set of data you are looking at, Bolt’s 0-60 bests Mo Greene’s indoor record by .08 or .1! This is clearly insanely Usain lightening Bolt fast.

From my perspective, he gets out faster than anyone ever (acceleration to 60), he has a higher average peak speed than anyone ever (top end speed), he holds it better than anyone ever (speed endurance), he is the only one under legal conditions to go below 9.7 AND 9.6 and he is only 22 (for a few more days). For these reasons, he can do 9.58 with the potential for more. The only thing keeping him from being the greatest ever is himself, and a positive drug test.

Frans Rutten said...

In pro cycling it's a general view of insiders, once you would be able to analyse all the valid SRM power measurements of more than 2 decades from pro cycling you probably get humanly spoken a 100% answer to the doping issue. Mind you, this is just a thought, not for actually trying to act upon.

Would a thorough biomechanical
analysis of sprinters, f.e. Bolt his early years compared with his sudden burst of upswing give clues away in the way power measurements in cycling do?

Martin said...

I have analyzed the historic development of the 100m world record to point out how "extraordinary" Usain Bolt's Sunday's World Record in Berlin has been. There are some indicators that leave Bolt's "achievement" very doubtful:

1. Bolt has improved Asafa Powell's World Record of 09.09.2007 by 0.16 secs within 707 days. Never before in history the 100m World Record has improved that much in such a short time period. Bolt's record is also very questionable given the assumption that it should become more and more difficult to improve the World Record beacause man gets closer to its natural limits and during the 80s and 90s it has taken much longer to improve the world record by smaller steps.

2. Asafa Powell ran at his World Record a speed of 10.267 m/sec while Bolt ran in Berlin a speed of 10.438 m/sec. This is an increase of 1.67% within 707 days which is a 0.86% increase per year. This is the most intensive increase of the 100m World Record speed in athletics history.

3. Never before the time gap between World Record (9.58 sec) and the Personal Best of the World's 2nd best ever athlete (9.71 sec) has been that enormous (0.13 sec). The only time in history it has been more than 0.10 sec was after the 1988 Olympics when Ben Johnson ran 9.79 sec and Carl Lewis has been World's 2nd best (9.92 sec). All of us know that Ben Johnson ran his World Record filled up with anabolic steroids that caused him losing his gold medal a few days later.

I think this figures show that Bolt's race in Berlin was "extraordinary" and therefore I question the "circumstances" that caused Bolt's result.

Giovanni Ciriani said...

Ben Johnson's coach, Charlie Francis, also used electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) to training his athlete (EMS is legal).

Alan said...

Hey martin

It's a bit crooked to judge Bolt's performance based on historical analysis, just because history has not seen such a big increase of the 100m WR doesn't mean it's an indicator that Bolt's achievement is doubtful. In many professional sport there come times when exceptional athletes appear and break through percieved "ceilings". Genetics throws up a "super" athlete once in a while.

You made the assumption that it should become more difficult to improve the World Record as human's gets closer to its natural limits, but it ignores the fact that Bolt's physiology is different from all the other top sprinters in history. Look at him. The data from your historical analysis came from "power" sprinters, the relatively short, chunky/muscular type of build. As has been discussed his physiology is what sets him apart to the rest of the field, allowing him to run fewer steps because of a longer stride etc etc.

I'm just saying historical analysis sometimes is not relevant to the present. Why can't he be extraordinary? Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Ross,

I'm still confused about the difference between the official IAAF times and the LAVEG times.

Bolt's 20m, 30m and 60m splits do NOT match. Powell's data is even worse; he has differences at 20m, 30m, 40m, 60m & 80m!

Could anyone tell me why this is the case? All I can think is that maybe LAVEG is measuring his legs rather than his chest?

Regards,
Lachlan

Anonymous said...

I am not going into the discussion of how "suspitious" Bolt race was, because, although a big leap in perfomance increase is questionable, we do not have any data which can corroborate or demonstrate that this was the case.
In this case, we may discuss on the overall improvement of the 100m and 200m times, which is also related to the fastest tracks, better training, etc.

I agree with Alan, the judgement of someone based on "historical facts" is questionable, since the data is based on chosen average values (which are too corse) of only few distinct races. Any statistical analysis would require a large amount of data based on the fastest sprinters races. And ALSO, even knowing that a sample with a large number of data tends to a normal distribution, there is a small but finite probability of ocurrence of something in the tail of the curve, very far from the average. It explains why from time to time an extreme flood, hurricane, a disaster of great magnitude may happen or a great genius, like da Vinci, Newton, Einstein, may appear. Bolt results seem to follow the same pattern: the appearance of such a fast sprinter might happen from, let's say, fifty to fifty years. His advantage to the others of the same generation might rely on that, I think. A better argument would come from the comparison of sprinters of the same generation at different years. From time to time there appears someone who simply is at a higher level.

Anonymous said...

@kanny:

Interesting numbers you found regarding the step length (and frequency)!

Looking at footage of the final, I found an even higher step length for the last 50 meters: Bolt takes 18 steps on the last 50 meters, which gives 2,78 meters/step.

Also, notice that his final step is 3 meters long (his final step is on the finish line and the step before that is on the 3 meter line before the finish line).

Regards,
Jakob

Frans Rutten said...

To Anonymous 20 aug 6:02 AM
"From time to time there appears someone who simply is at a higher level".

Of cause this is true, but as far as I know, none of these overnight (within the timeframe of a year) extraterrestial performers ever proved to be genuine or is still to be considered as highly suspicious. So Bolt would be the first in line shooting the stars as at the same time others seem to run backwards.

Anonymous said...

To Frans Rutten, 20 Aug. 10:27 PM

I did not say that Bolt's or anyone overnight improvement in performance cannot be questioned. Of course, there is the possibility of a non genuine or suspicious result. I sincerely just hope that it is not the case.

However, apart from this question, I think there are a few examples of great achievements in human performances from time to time. Jesse Owens (just check the Wikipedia) in 45 min set three world records and tied a fourth. His 8.13m long jump WR remained untouched for 25 years. And I believe the conditions he had in 1935 were not the best.
Bob Beamon, in the 1968 Mexico City Olympic games, broke the long jump WR by more than half a meter (from 8.35m to 8.90m, which even in the high altitude is an amazing performance), a result that he did not repeat and which lasted till 1991, when Mike Powell jumped 8.95m (Bob Beamon is officially still the second best long jump ever). Jonathan Edwards still has his triple jump WR, which is over 18.30m (the champion in Berlin jumped 17.73m). Also Michael Johnson won and broke the 200m WR in Atlanta 1996 with an incredible 19.32, more than 0.6 seconds ahead of (I believe) Frank Fredericks time.

Another point is that Bolt did not
appear from nowhere. His results as a teenager are as impressive as his current WR.

Anonymous said...

Correction, Atlanta 1996 200m: Michael Johnson (19.32), Frank Fredericks (19.68).

I forgot to mention Sergey Bubka and Javier Sotomayor.

Anonymous said...

Splits Beijing Berlin OtherB Gay

React 0.165 0.146 0.100 0.144
10 1.85 1.89 1.77 1.89*
20 1.02 0.99 1.00 1.03*
30 0.91 0.90 0.89 0.91
40 0.87 0.86 0.86 0.87


These are Gay splits on the 9.71 up to 40m given the data from both
PDF. * are near presumptions splittimes.

Pete said...

Another point is that Bejing was a mondo track (generally accepted to be a faster type) and Berlin was not. This would at least (if not more) overide the effect of the tailwind in Berlin

lubo said...

Interesting discussions in these posts.

Yes, Usuain has been extraordinary in the 200m races and followed by many since the age of 15 or 16, which goes a long way to question the doping allegations.

Remember too that he did not start running 100m competitively until a few months before Bejing: he was a rookie there. And I've wondered whether he lost another 0.01 second or more from the misstep he took with his right leg in his first real step out of the starting blocks in Bejing, and from the fact that his left shoelace was not tied (incredibly), both clearly visible in some of the slow motion footage of his feet.

I believe that Bolt is clean: I have seen nothing on the net to suggest otherwise, despite many claims.

My wish for Usain is that he remains relatively or completely injury free. And that he remains mentally relaxed as he has been last year, i.e. that fame and fortune and success not change his mind much. He will then do wonders for track and field. To say nothing of what records he might yet break in the 100m, 200m and perhaps 400m in the next 5 or 10 years... if he continues to be able to run with such relaxed mind and body.

Lubo in Canada

Giovanni Ciriani said...

Ben Johnson's coach, Charlie Francis, also used electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) to training his athlete (EMS is legal).