Tuesday 2 August 2022 12:48 PM As Commonwealth Games kick off, scientists reveal whether humans will EVER run ... trends now

Tuesday 2 August 2022 12:48 PM As Commonwealth Games kick off, scientists reveal whether humans will EVER run ... trends now
Tuesday 2 August 2022 12:48 PM As Commonwealth Games kick off, scientists reveal whether humans will EVER run ... trends now

Tuesday 2 August 2022 12:48 PM As Commonwealth Games kick off, scientists reveal whether humans will EVER run ... trends now

It's one of the most eagerly anticipated events at any athletics competition, and now the heats of the 100 metres have finally kicked off at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

The men's race will see Wales' Jeremiah Azu take on Kenya's Ferdinand Omanyala and Jamaica's Ackeem Blake, while Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce remains the favourite in the women's race.

The current record holder for the event is Usain Bolt, who clocked an astonishing 9.58 seconds at the 2009 IAAF World Championships.

And while several other athletes have also completed the race in under 10 seconds, no one is yet to break the nine-second barrier.

So, the question remains: can a human ever run 100 metres in under nine seconds?

With the first round of the event at the Commonwealth Games kicking off today, MailOnline spoke to scientists to help answer the question - with varying opinions.

The current record holder for the event is Usain Bolt, who clocked an astonishing 9.58 seconds at the 2009 IAAF World Championships

Jersey's Zachary Saunders competes in the Men's 100m round 1 at Alexander Stadium on day five of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham

Jersey's Zachary Saunders competes in the Men's 100m round 1 at Alexander Stadium on day five of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham

The fastest athletes in the 100 metres 

Usain Bolt - 9.58 seconds

Tyson Gay - 9.69 seconds

Yohan Blake - 9.69 seconds

Asafa Powell - 9.72 seconds

Justin Gatlin - 9.74 seconds

Christian Coleman - 9.76 seconds

Trayvon Bromell - 9.76 seconds

Fred Kerley - 9.76 seconds

Ferdinand Omanyala - 9.77 seconds

Nesta Carter - 9.78 seconds

Advertisement

Before 1968, the 10-second mark was widely considered a barrier for the 100 metres race.

But Jim Hines shocked viewers around the world when he clocked 9.95 seconds at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.

Since then, the world record has come on leaps and bounds, with many of the top male sprinters now having a sub-10 second race under their belt.

But a leap from Bolt's 2009 record of 9.58 seconds to sub-nine seconds is no mean feat.

According to Polly McGuigan and Aki Salo, lecturers in Sport Biomechanics at the University of Bath, the main issue in achieving a sub-nine second race is how much power humans can produce, and what the requirements are to achieve this.

To produce long steps at a high frequency, athletes must produce a huge amount of force in a very short period of time – approximately 4.5 times their body weight in around 0.1 seconds.

To do this, athletes must maintain a very stiff leg and accelerate it into the ground at foot contact, explained Dr McGuigan and Professor Salo in an article for The Conversation.

'Recent research has shown that it is this difference in the forces generated in the early part of the stance phase (just after foot contact) that distinguishes very fast sprinters from the less fast ones,' they said.

'The ability to maintain a stiff limb is determined by how muscle force can be generated in the muscles of the leg.

England's Ali Smith competes in the Women's T37/38 100m Round 1 at Alexander Stadium on day five of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham

England's Ali Smith competes in the Women's T37/38 100m Round 1 at Alexander Stadium on day five of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham

Could 'super-spike' shoes be the answer to breaking the 9 second barrier? 

A study by the University of Massachusetts explored new innovations in athletics, including lightweight, resilient, and compliant midsole foam, altered geometry, and increased longitudinal bending stiffness in shoes.

They wanted to find a way to quantify the benefit of the new technology, but found too many confounding factors had to be considered.

The team suggested it would be necessary to wait for multiple companies to offer the technology and for it to be so widely used you can track results in competition.

'In the end, we might just need to rely on an unbiased comparison of track performances pre- and post- the introduction of super spikes, or, at the individual level, changes in an athlete's training or race times,' authors wrote.

'In several years, we can expect performance analyses into the historical development of annual top 20 and top 50 performances, similar to those currently being published for marathon super shoes. 

'It is tempting to attribute any new world record to footwear innovation, but the long-term performance trajectories of, for example, Sydney McLaughlin and Karsten Warholm, cannot be ignored,' the authors said.

The findings have been published in the SportRxiv preprint

Advertisement

'This in turn is a function of muscle size, the types of fibres which make up the muscles and the co-ordinated activation of the muscles of the leg to optimise the use of elastic mechanisms and amplify the power from the muscles.

'A muscle with a high proportion of large, fast twitch muscle fibres will be able to generate larger amounts of force more quickly than a muscle

read more from dailymail.....

PREV Tuesday 2 August 2022 12:03 PM UK government to only publish seven of the 24 environmental indicators for ... trends now
NEXT Tuesday 2 August 2022 01:15 PM Starting school later can improve teens' academic performance, study finds  trends now