The NY Times posted a new article about the evolution of sprinters over the past 116 years. Since the 1904 Olympic games, runners have only become faster and faster.
In 1904, the gold medal went to a man who ran the 100m dash in 11 seconds. In 2012, Usain Bolt posted a time of 9.63 seconds. The interesting thing here is how much faster Olympians have become. Keep in mind that the gold medal time of 11 seconds in 1904 is SLOW. A good high school track sprinter can do 100 meters in less than 11 seconds.
So what’s changed with sprinters? I’d say it comes down to three things:
1. Athletes are better trained – More resources are invested in churning out killer sprinters today than in 1904. Plus, world class sprinters are more likely to earn a reasonable living in 2012 than they were in 1904. Merely competing in the Olympics is good for endorsement contracts galore.
2. Technological improvements – Shoes are better, clothes are tighter and lighter, and tracks are invariably of better quality after more than a century of improvement.
3. Human Resources – We’re better at spotting the best future athletes earlier in their careers. A larger talent pool makes for better talent.