Those three numbers can mean only one thing… Usain Bolt and the greatest 3 races we have seen in this lifetime.
No argument there, though some may argue the 9.79 back in 1988 was THE greatest. Another post, another time for that discussion. Onto the research paper…
A Kinematics Analysis of the 3 Best 100 M Performances
A Kinematics Analysis Of Three Best 100 M Performances Ever was researched and written by Mackala “Chris” Krzysztof and Antti Mero, and published in the Journal of Human Kinetics volume 36/2013, 149-160, Section III – Sports Training. (link to download the full PDF below)
In the last four years Usain Bolt improved the world record in the 100 m sprint three times, from 9.74 sec to 9.58. Over the last 40 years this record has been revised up to thirteen times from 9.95 sec to 9.58. The improvement equals 0.37 sec (from 1968 to 2009) which is an increase in performance of 3.72%. By comparison, during the same time period, the 200 m world record was revised six times from 19.83 sec to 19.19 what amounts to 3.33 %.
Sprinting speed is defined with the frequency and the length of strides 2001. These parameters are mutually dependant with their optimal ratio enabling maximal sprinting speed. The increase of speed can be achieved by increased length or frequency of strides. The increase of both parameters simultaneously is quite difficult due to mutual dependency. Therefore an increase in one factor will result in an improvement in sprint velocity, as long as the other factor does not undergo a proportionately similar or larger decrease). Increased frequency results in shorter stride length and vice versa. Therefore the increase in stride length must be directly proportional with the decrease of stride frequency, especially at the beginning of the race – the initial acceleration phase. This relationship is individually conditioned with the processes of neuro-muscular regulation of movement, morphological characteristics, motor abilities and energy substrates.
The purpose of this investigation was to compare and determine the relevance of the morphological characteristics and variability of running speed parameters (stride length and stride frequency) between Usain Bolt’s three best 100 m performances. Based on this, an attempt was made to define which factors determine the performance of Usain Bolt’s sprint and, therefore, distinguish him from other sprinters.
Bolt’s anthropometric advantage (body height and lower limbs length) is not questionable and it is one of the factors that makes him faster than the rest of the finalists of each of the three discussed sprinting events.
Additionally, Bolt’s almost 20 cm longer stride presents an important benefit in the latter part of the race. Despite these factors, he is probably able to strike the ground more forcefully than other sprinters, relatively to their body mass and, therefore, he might maximize the time of the contact with the ground and apply the same force over this period of time. This ability, combined with longer stride, allows him to reach very high running speed – over 12 m/s (12.05 -12.34 m/s) in some 10 m sections of his three 100 m performances.
Analysis of the obtained results of this particular sprinter may be of great importance for trainers and coaches as it implies work on stride frequency (SF) in order to reach a higher value of maximal sprinting speed. Therefore, it is noteworthy that the main focus should be on the optimal interaction between stride length and stride frequency.
Click here for the full research paper. (PDF, 568 Kb)
Thanks to Chris Mackala for using and crediting my research in this paper.