Last Updated on April 26, 2014 by Amir Rehman
Asafa Powell’s 5.64 victory yesterday in the indoor 50 meters was one-tenth of a second slower than his best 50m split of 5.54 seconds outdoors.
This made me ponder… when will the indoor 50 and 60 meter world record be broken?
And why are the indoor times slower than the outdoor splits? Even with the lean for the tape?
Take a look at the chart below and it’s clear Maurice Green ran close to his potential indoors, which explains why he still has both indoor world records 14 years later. Bruny Surin’s times are slightly faster for the outdoor equivalents, but nowhere near Usain’s Bolt’s 5.47 and 6.29 split times.
Where are the others?
As a sidenote, if Ben Johnson ran through the line in 1988, he would have ran 9.72 (0.07 seconds faster)
Now take a look at the 2 charts below.
Note how we have many sub 6.40 60 meter splits, but only 34 sub 6.50 indoor times all-time?
In fact, there are only a handful of performances from the last 10 years that make the top sub 6.50 list , making Dwain Chambers 6.42 2009 performance a refreshing race to watch.
I am glad Mo has the WR, because when Andre Cason held the WR, we all thought shorter vertically challenged athletes were better at acceleration. Look at Bolt’s 5.47 and 6.29 today and I rest my case.
So if we are getting faster, why aren’t we seeing faster 50 and 60 meter times?
6 Reasons Why
There are several reasons for this.
- You can argue you haven’t peaked yet, though if you are training short to long, then your emphasis over the fall and winter should be 60 meters anyways.
- You can argue you don’t have enough races. True, you need 5-7 races to peak properly for the 100 meters.
- You can say you simply ignore the indoor season (**cough cough avoid drug testing cough cough**). There are no current Jamaicans on the second chart.
- You can argue outdoors tracks today are made super hard to produce faster sprint times and screw over the distance runners. The 10K runners complained loudly in Atlanta 1996… the same year Donovan Bailey and Michael Johnson both broke world records.
- You can argue the new rule of no false starts plus the use of electronic sensor pads puts sprinters to a disadvantage. You can no longer anticipate the gun (**cough cough Donovan Bailey’s 5.56 WR cough cough**). Changing the reaction times from 0.100 is a hot debate.
The Real Reason Why
But wait, I said there were 6 reasons?
Why aren’t more sprinters running better indoor 60 meters?
#6 – It’s because they are afraid of crashing into the wall. Psychologically they are slowing down.
When you are a freight train moving at 27.8 mph (44.7 kph) and see a wall in front of you, you better put on the brakes!
[Tweet “The Indoor 60 meters: Where are the Fast Times?”]
But what does impress me is are the non-sprinters in that list, like Long Jumper Dwight Phillips and 110m Hurdler Mark McKoy.
Anthony Wallace says
The Olympics are an outdoor event. Yes we know the record could be lower, but when all of the glory goes to outdoor track and field. Thats all that matters.
Jimson Lee says
@Anthony, sadly, you are correct, the whole non-track world cares about track once every 4 years.
Anthony Wallace says
Hey watchout for that kid Marvin Bracy 55m 6.08..
I dont think that Ben Johnson lost 0.07 in Seoul.
Really Bolt slowed his speed in Beijing a lot of more that Ben Johnson.
If Bolt lost in my opinion 0.06-0.08, Johnson lost maximum 0.03-0.05.
Agree with Frank….Ben went 0.85 (70-80m) and 0.87 (80-90m), he was coming down from that 0.83 (50-60m), he didn’t let up at 80m like the legend has grown into, if you look he only lets off the gas at around 93m and begins to raise the arm at 96-97m. Ben goes no faster than 9.76 in that race
Ben could possibly have run 5.52ish and 6.35ish if he had a full 1988 Indoor season. He set the WR (or is it WB?) in 50yd that 1988 Indoor season of 5.15 which is almost dead in line with an extrapolation of his would be 50yd time in Seoul (40m 4.66, 50m 5.50) (40-50m of 0.84) (50yd extrap. of 5.14ish)
Fasuba’s old coach PJ Vazel gave some splits for Asafa’s 9.74 in Rieti (his high-speed video analysis was always VERY thorough and I’d take his numbers as gospel 99.9% of the time) showing him to be 5.49 and 6.32 at 50m and 60m respectively….his findings showed the exact same numbers for his 9.72 a year later in Lausanne
I’d say if Asafa had an Indoor season 2006 or 2007, he’d have gone 5.53/6.37ish