The Problem With Track & Field World Records


What goes into a world record. Obviously it has to be an incredible performance. Everything has to come together just right. They don't happen very often. When bob beamon broke the world's record in the long jump in nineteen sixty eight. See my previous episode about that. The conditions were perfect. He had the maximum allowable. Tailwind it was at a high altitude in mexico city. He had perfect form and he put together his best jump ever at just the right time since the advent of competitive athletics nine thousand nine hundred twelve. The international association of athletic federation's has been keeping world records in every event. There's been a progression of world records. As people of incrementally bested previous performances. Most world records are only broken by less than one percent. The greatest single increase in a world record was the aforementioned bob beamon jump which beat the previous world record by six point five percent so that is sort of the world record of world records. Each event has a very different progression in how frequent and how recent world records get set. And this gets into the real heart of what i wanna talk about. You should expect to see world records being broken at a slower and slower rate over time as humans. Approach the limit of human performance should become harder and harder to break records. Records will require more luck and more people who have the perfect physique in the very peak of their careers. But this isn't quite what happened in some events there hasn't been a new world record set in over thirty years. You're shulte set the world record in the men's discus in one thousand nine hundred eighty six at seventy four point zero eight meters to put that into perspective. The gold medalist in the two thousand nineteen world championships had a distance of sixty seven point. Five nine meters a full six point five meters or twenty one feet short of the world record the men's hammer throw was also said in nineteen eighty-six yuri set up of the soviet union through the hammer. Eighty six point seven meters. The two thousand nineteen world champion through it. Only eighty point five meters that six point two meters less than the world record. The oldest existing world record in track and field is the women's eight hundred meters. Your meal acrostic viola of czechoslovakia set a world's record finishing the eight hundred in one minute. Fifty three point two eight seconds. That's almost five seconds. Faster than the two thousand nineteen world champion. You might have noticed something that all these really old records have in common. They're all held by athletes from former communist countries. If you're thinking that these records might be tainted by performance enhancing drugs. You aren't alone.

Coming up next