It appears Coach Mills was right, based on extreme-value theory.
Last year when Usain Bolt’s coach Glen Mills claimed Bolt could run 9.52, I bashed him say it was impossible.
I analyzed Usain Bolt’s 10 meter splits from his 9.69 Beijing Olympic victory and extrapolated his last 10 meter segment, without the chest thumping.
A final 10 meter split of 0.84 or 0.85 seconds would extrapolate his 100m World Record to 9.63 or 9.64. Even a 0.83 last 10 meter split would give him 9.62. I don’t know where the other 0.10 seconds to generate a 9.52 could be sliced.
Extreme-value theory is similar to statistics for the financial risk management sector and insurance world to estimate the risk of extreme events, such as stock market crashes and earthquakes. The events are rare, but they do happen. Basically, if you apply it to sports, you are looking for “freaks of nature”
John H.J. Einmahl of Tilburg University and Sander G.W.R. Smeets, of AZL, Heerlen present the scientific journal Ultimate 100m world records through extreme-value theory. It’s a 15 page PDF file if you are interested in the long read.
From their Abstract:
We use extreme-value theory to estimate the ultimate world records for the 100m running, for both men and women. For this aim we collected the fastest personal best times set between January 1991 and June 2008. Estimators of the extreme-value index are based on a certain number of upper order statistics.
To optimize this number of order statistics we minimize the asymptotic mean squared error of the moment estimator. Using the thus obtained estimate for the extreme-value index, the right endpoint of the speed distribution is estimated.
The corresponding time can be interpreted as the estimated ultimate world record: the best possible time that could be run in the near future. We find 9.51 seconds for the 100m men and 10.33 seconds for the women.
One thing to take notice is their sample pool.
The authors analyzed the records of 762 male and 479 female athletes. Each athlete were listed only once, and the performances were recorded between January 1991 and June 2008. Thus, it does not include FloJo’s WR of 10.49 (1988) nor Usain Bolt’s 9.69 WR in Beijing (August 2008).
The sample pool of men’s times ranges between 9.72 and 10.30 seconds, and the women’s from 10.65 to 11.38.
I can mentally accept a Usain Bolt performance in the 9.50’s but a women’s WR of 10.33 will make me gasp in horror.