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Humans could reach their upper athletic limits within 10 years

The human body is capable of running 100 meters in 9.51 seconds, about 0.07 seconds faster than the current world record held by Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, Korean researchers have suggested.

It could take up to 10.55 years for humans to reach this estimated upper limit, after which the chances of performance improvement is extremely low, said professor Chang Yu-sang of KDI School of Public Policy and Management.

Chang and his team have analyzed data from 61 running and swimming events around the world over the past 100 years. 
Chang Yu-sang
Chang Yu-sang

The team used a non-linear regression model to extrapolate the exact data in every circumstance in the sports world.

They found the “time limit” to be somewhere between 7.5 and 10. 5 years, after which physical limitations would make the chances of improved performance very low.

“We will be able to see some records being broken at the Olympics in 2012 and 2016. But after then, the chances are slim,” Chang told The Korea Herald.

However, he suggested that exceptions could occur, especially in swimming where state-of-the-art devices supporting the swimmer have made great contribution in reducing the period for record shattering.

Chang’s finding was published in the International Journal of Applied Management Science’s January edition.

By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldcorp.com)
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