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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Sprint stats

Tyson Gay's winning 100m time at the USATF, 9.84, is the second-fastest ever into a headwind. The fastest, 9.83, was made by Maurice Greene in 2001 at the Edmonton World Championships. I saw both of these live and in person, which puts me in a relatively small circle of people--maybe a few hundred. This is pure blind luck, as Edmonton is the only meet I've traveled a significant distance to see.

A nifty online widget put together by Canadian physics prof Dr. Jonas Mureika allows us to take wind and altitude into account (and temperature, barometric pressure and relative humidity as well). For the men's 100 meters, here's his all-time adjusted list through the end of last year:

Adjusted (Official) Wind Athlete (Date) Venue
9.80 (9.79) 0.1 Maurice Greene (6/16/1999) Athínai
9.81 (9.80) 0.2 Maurice Greene (8/22/1999) Sevilla
9.83 (9.82) -0.2 Maurice Greene (5/8/2001) Edmonton
9.84 (9.86) -0.4 Ato Boldon (6/17/1998) Athínai
9.85 (9.84) 0.2 Bruny Surin (8/22/1999) Sevilla
9.85 (9.86) -0.2 Maurice Greene (1/9/2000) Berlin
9.85 (9.87) -0.3 Maurice Greene (9/23/2000) Sydney
9.85 (9.77) 1.5 Asafa Powell (6/11/2006) Gateshead
9.86 (9.77) 1.6 Asafa Powell (6/14/2005) Athínai
9.86 (9.85) -0.2 Tim Montgomery (5/8/2001) Edmonton

Note Asafa Powell's strong tailwinds in comparison to the rest. How does Gay's mark stand up? It adjusts to 9.82, third-best of all time.

In the 200 meters, Dr. Murieka's calcuations say the headwind had no net effect and counts Gay's time as 19.62. Walter Dix' stunning run at the NCAA east regional, on the other hand, was run with an aiding wind (+0.9) and, more importantly, came out of lane seven. So it corrects to 19.76, clearly inferior to Xavier Carter's great mark of last summer. Wallace Spearmon's best time, 19.65 last fall in Daegu (Korea), does not change in Murieka's calculations. The all-time adjusted 200m list:

Adjusted (Official) Wind/Lane Athlete (Date) Venue
19.37 (19.32) +0.4/3 Michael Johnson (8/1/96) Atlanta
19.62 (19.62) -0.3/6 Tyson Gay (6/24/07) Indianapolis
19.65 (19.65) 0.0/6 Wallace Spearmon (9/28/06) Daegu
19.70 (19.68) -0.1/6 Tyson Gay (9/10/06) Stuttgart
19.72 (20.01) -3.4/? Michael Johnson (8/27/91) Tokyo
19.73 (19.73) -0.2/? Mike Marsh (8/5/92) Barcelona
19.73 (19.63) 0.4/8 Xavier Carter (7/11/06) Lausanne
19.74 (19.68) 0.4/5 Frankie Fredericks (8/1/96) Atlanta
19.75 (19.80) -0.9/? Carl Lewis (8/8/84) Los Angeles
19.76 (19.69) 0.9/7 Walter Dix (5/26/07) Gainesville
19.78 (19.70) 0.4/5 Tyson Gay (7/11/06) Lausanne

All of these calculations leave out one important variable: the track itself. Some facilities are faster than others, but estimating an effect is near impossible. Regardless, the numbers confirm that the world's best sprinter at this point in time is not Asafa Powell. It's Tyson Gay.


Jimmie R. Markham said...


Is there a way to reach you off-line? If so, please contact me by clicking on my profile link above and going to the "Contact" section in my profile.

Jimson Lee said...

I wonder if we'll see the same "ducking" of Asafa & Tyson this summer in Europe, like we did for Asafa & Justin Gatlin?