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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The X-Man Cometh

Yesterday's 19.63 for 200 metersby Xavier Carter is getting more internet buzz than Liu Xiang's hurdle world record. I suppose dropping a PR by 0.39 seconds (as Carter did) will get more attention than dropping it by 0.03 (as Liu did). More likely it's because Liu was already a WR holder and Olympic champion while no one thought Carter capable of such a time.

Well, maybe he isn't. The track is very fast, and 200m times are more affected by environmental factors than most people realize. Lausanne's 615 meters of elevation supposedly aid sprinters by 0.02 seconds. Not for the 200, according to physics professor Jonas Murieka. According to his calculations, yesterday's conditions (615m of altitude, 1.1 m/s of aiding wind) gave Carter an additional 0.13 seconds above and beyond what he would have run at sea level and in still air. Well, actually, those calculations were for lane 4; he got considerably more "air time" by being in lane 8.

And what about the lane? Considering that the old 220 yards on a straightaway was about 0.3 to 0.4 seconds faster than running it around a curve, the turn is a very important part of the race--so much so that the IAAF abandoned the 200 race at its indoor championships, since the wining athlete was determined by lane draw as much as anything else. Carter was in lane 8 on a track noted for its broad curves. Murieka has also published research on curves and 200 meter times, but maddeningly he draws no conclusion on the effects of lane selection!

Still, we knew this guy has that special something. The guy ran a 10.09/44.53 double in the space of 42 minutes, indicating sub-44 is in him and just waiting for competition to bring it out.
"Up next, Carter will travel to Rome on Friday for the Golden Gala where he is slated to go head-to-head with Olympic gold medalist Jeremy Wariner in the 400 meters."
Oh boy. This is the moment we thought might not come for years--a worthy opponent to Jeremy Wariner. This is going to be very fun.

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