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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Powell's Record

Powell seems to own the all-time world list. He's now got five of the six fastest times, and it will change to five of five once Gatlin's mark officially gets the boot.

Yet he's obviously not the world's best 100-meter man. He was well beaten in Osaka. How is this possible?

Simple. He has all the official fastest marks, but in reality he does not dominate. Wind speed and altitude play an unappreciated role in sprint times. Just yesterday, T&FN released their all-time wind/altitude adjusted lists. Take a look; Tyson Gay and Maurice Greene split the top five marks.

There's a decent amount of research being done on the effect of wind and altitude. T&FN's adjustments are based on older work by J. Dapena and M. Feltner; I like Jonas Murieka's research not just because it's newer but because it's easy to apply with his online calculator. Both methods show Powell's recent record to be equal to 9.83 in still air at sea level.

I have a Google spreadsheet for Murieka's all-time adjusted list through last year, and another one for this year's marks. Take a careful look at the top of the 2007 list, and compare it to the all-time one.

Asafa Powell did set a record today. His 9.78 in the final adjusts to 9.79, the fastest ever. So there.

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