I could have renamed the title of the article, “What has changed over the last 20 years in Elite Sprinting”.
Or even 10 years!
Before May 2008, Asafa Powell was The Man!
What is the most significant change in Usain Bolt’s dominance? Or even Tyson Gay when healthy?
Comparing Ben Johnson, Mo Greene & Usain Bolt Splits
When you compare the last 20 years, and break the race into 4 segments (0-30, 30-60, 60-80, 80-100), it is pretty obvious where the improvement lies.
I took the splits for Ben Johnson’s 1988 Olympic 9.79 to Usain Bolt’s 2008 Olympic 9.69. Both slowed down at the finish, and the races are 20 years apart.
Same with Mo Greene’s 1999 9.79 to Usain Bolt’s 2009 9.58. Both ran through the finish line, and the races are 10 years apart.
Put them side by side, and what do you see?
The answer is obvious.
Usain Bolt (and to a certain degree Tyson Gay) are able to sustain a longer acceleration phase, coupled with a higher top end speed. The two together is a deadly force.
With a longer acceleration phase, you have a shorter deceleration phase or maintenance phase.
Their max velocity occurs at 70m, and not traditionally 60m. Or 50m for Masters and Youth, if you are lucky!
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John Smith once said he wanted to eliminate the deceleration phase, or maintenance phase. Can you imagine a 100m acceleration phase? It will happen one day.
In a world of elite sports where one percent makes a difference between 1st or 4th, or winning and losing in football or soccer, three percent is a huge factor over 10 years or 20 years.
Okay, so we know the stats. Now apply this to your training.
What this means is a lot of time should be spent for speed and acceleration development. No use being “super fit” or “running though buckets of lactic acid in your butt”. You need to have speed at 12 m/s.
If you want to deMOlish your competition in the 100m, or any sprint event, you need to work on acceleration and top end speed of you want to separate yourself from the field.