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Breaking Olympic records

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 03 August 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:246
  1. E A Newsholme
  1. Professor of biochemistry Merton College, Oxford OX1 4JD

    Improved understanding of psychology and nutrition will mean no end to record breaking

    Reading the records of the 19th century may be a pleasant pastime for today's athletes; if a hundred years ago you could have run, for example, 10 000 metres in 30 minutes, you would have been a world champion. Will athletes in another 100 years look back to present day records with the same envy? Plotting the running speeds of the record holders for 200 m, 1500 m, and the marathon (42.2 km) shows a linear increase with time from the early 1900s to today, with no evidence of an approach to a plateau.1 Indeed, Whipp and Ward have shown that women are currently improving at a faster rate than men.2 If this rate of improvement is maintained, there will come a time when the best women will beat the best men. The authors predict that this could occur around the year 2035 for most events, and much sooner in the marathon. However, …

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