In his first study on the subject (2002), prior to the emergence of Usain Bolt, and based on the evolution of 20th century records, the Australian statistician Kevin Duffy estimated the human limit for distance at 9.48 seconds. , and set the date for the achievement of such a mark: the year 2162.
According to his study, Bolt’s 9.69 seconds of the Beijing games (2008) would have arrived in 2030, and the current record (the 9.58 seconds set in 2009 by the Jamaican sprinter) would have been achieved in 2070. Bolt smashed Duffy’s predictions , and then all eyes turned to biomechanics, the science that studies the forces and accelerations that act on organisms.
Three factors against
There are three things that limit human speed: the force of contact with the ground, the friction of the foot with the ground and the angle of the footprint. According to the American biomechanic and physiologist Peter Weyand, only by changing the former can a significant reduction in time be achieved.
This specialist says that if athletes developed a technique that increased the strength of their footfall without affecting the frequency of the steps, they could fall below nine seconds. Australian physiologist Jeremy Richmond believes the key is to reduce the time runners’ feet spend glued to the ground. According to him, Bolt could travel a hundred meters in 9.27 seconds.
Another key is to lengthen the peak speed. Bolt has managed to run between 42 and 44 km / h for just over 30 meters. According to some experts, increasing that maximum would not be as significant as maintaining it for a longer distance. Matthew Bundle, a biomechanic at the University of Wyoming, argues that the ability of muscles to contract would allow humans to reach 40 mph. That would mean falling below seven seconds in the hundred meter dash, little compared to what a cheetah could do.