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I am surprised of the hype surrounding France’s Christophe Lemaitre. Yes, he did run 9.98 with a legal wind on Friday, and yes, he is white or Caucasian (or non-African decent if you want to get picky), but the real surprise is just turned 20 years old, and technically speaking his running form leaves a lot to be desired. But when you run 9.98, maybe his running style is better?
Or, maybe he can run 9.80 with some adjustments?
First, I don’t care if a man or woman is white, black, yellow, red, green or orange. It’s how fast he or she can cover from point A to point B, regardless of running style. In this case, we’re talking about the 100 meters. After all, we are trying to find out how fast someone can run.
If you really want to get picky, Marian Woronin of Poland’s personal best was 9.992. When you round up to the nearest 1/100ths of a second, that becomes 10.00. So while Christophe Lemaitre became the first white man to run under 10.00, Marian Woronin was the first white man to run under 10.000.
Christophe Lemaitre Running Form
I am more impressed by the fact this young chap is only 20 years old. Then again, we remember all the hype of Usain Bolt as a 17 year old. He got injured a lot, went away for 2 years, then BOOM. I hope he has a good management team.
Physically, Lemaitre has very long legs with his shorts (or tights) coming up very high to his torso.
Christophe Lemaitre’s body type remind me a lot of Donovan Bailey, the 1996 Atlanta Olympic 100 meter Champion. They both have long strides and appears to be sitting “low”. Technically, that is not favourable as it drops your hips and you can’t get your high knee action.
With all the hype over reducing ground contact time, Bud Winter always advocated a long stride by means of a powerful push-off while staying low to the ground. Read his book, this topic is covered in great detail.
Thanks to YouTube, we have his Heats (10.15) and Final (9.98) is super slow motion. He also ran a 10.05 in the semi-finals.
Christophe Lemaitre Videos
The first thing to notice, you’ll see most athletes taking 7 strides to the 10 meter mark. You can see it from the 4×100 passing zone hash marks at 90 meters. You’ll also notice Lemaitre is nearly standing up at 10 meters, compared to the others who are “low” or still in the drive phase.
Another thing I noticed was his consistency, or lack thereof. In the heats, he runs 10.15 with 41 steps while easing up the last 10 meters, and chopping his last stride. But in the Finals, he runs a legal 9.98 while taking 43 steps!
Just a reminder, Usain Bolt takes 41 steps for the 100 meters.
To my eye (and not using any Dartfish software) his knees are higher in the last 50 meters of the heats compared to the Finals.
At the end of the day, the stopwatch is all that matters (especially Track Fans in the stadium). But it may be time to throw out the conventional style of training and start thinking outside the box. You have to adjust your technique to different body structures and their strengths (and weakness!)
Here is the video from Youtube (10.15 Heats)
Here is the video from Youtube (9.98 Finals Slo-Mo)
Here is the video from Youtube (9.98 Finals, normal speed)