Back in the USA

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Image Source: itntalkI am now back to watching the action from the other side of the Atlantic. The breaking of a world record in one of track’s most storied events is always worth pausing to reflect upon. Today, the 800 meter record fell as David Rudisha of Kenya won the gold medal and posted a sizzling time of 1:40.91. Anytime the world’s greatest track athletes assemble in one place, it causes me to think what is within the realm of possibility, and what sort of times might we be seeing in another 64 years (the length of time from these Olympics back to the 1948 London Olympics). Rudisha coming in under 1:41 makes it more likely that sometime someone will run under 1:40. It took 31 years after Sebastian Coe became the first man to run under 1:41 for someone (Rudisha) to break the next barrier. So in 64 years I would imagine that we would be under 1:40.

Usain Bolt showed again tonight that he can do whatever he wants to do on a track – winning the 200 meters in 19.32 (the same time as Michael Johnson in 1996). Bolt probably would have run in the 19.20’s if he didn’t ease up before the line and gesture to Yohan Blake. His world record of 19.19 suggests that sometime in the next 25 years someone could conceivably go under 19 seconds in the 200. But where is the limit? 100 years from now, will someone run under 9 seconds for 100 meters? Will somebody run a sub 2 hour marathon and, if so, when? Is there a limit and, if so, what is it likely to be in each track event? Or do we just keep breaking records until we get to the point where the 100 meters is being run in 5 seconds?

I don’t think I will have myself cryogenically frozen to be reanimated in 100 years and see how low world records have gone, but it is interesting to speculate – especially when someone like David Rudisha gives us a new definition of “possible.”

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