I spent a good part of today thinking about the issues arising from yesterday’s men’s 200m – T44 final at the Paralympic Games.
The Conversation posted this article on some of this discussion.
Brendan Burkett in an article for the British Journal of Sports Medicine helped me clarify my thinking. He pointed out that:
athletes depend on their prostheses in order to run, and so the prostheses are essential for performance; however, based on the mechanical analysis alone, these same aids could be considered performance enhancement. (My emphasis)
I thought I would go to some of the literature on Usain Bolt to focus my thoughts about speed, particularly in relation to stride length and stride frequency. I found Kevin Duffy‘s discussion of the limits to 100m sprinting. I looked at Usain Bolt’s performance in the 2012 Olympics and his progression through heats, semi-finals and finals.
100m: 10.9 (heat), 9.87 (semi), 9.63 (final)
200m: 20.39 (heat), 20.18 (semi), 19.32 (final)
In the men’s 200m – T44 final there were three blade runners and five single leg amputees. All the medals in the final were won by blade runners. Alan Oliveira who won the gold medal was a finalist in the corresponding Beijing Paralympic race. He was 16 years of age then and ran a time of 24.21. In London he ran a time of 21.45, 0.07s faster than Oscar Pistorius. In his three Paralympic finals Oscar ran 21.97 in Athens, 21.67 in Beijing and 21.52 in London.
I watched the race over and did the obvious thing – I counted the strides.
It turns out that Pistorius took 92 steps during the race (2.2m per stride), and Oliveira took 98 steps to win gold (2.0m per stride). To break it down further:
In the first 100m, Pistrorius took 49 steps (2.0m per stride), with 43 steps in the straight (2.3m per stride). Oliveira, on the other hand, took SHORTER strides – 52 in the first 100m (1.92m each) and 46 in the second 100m (2.2m each).
He suggests that “the advantage for Oliveira tonight was NOT his stride length … The advantage was stride rate.”
Later this afternoon ABC PM hosted this discussion with Steven Wilson, Harvey Blackney and Cameron Ward.
I ended the day with a conversation with Dom Knight on ABC Radio.