Well, it looks like my hopes for Olympic Gold happened about 60 years before I was ever born. This revelation came to me during my morning ritual of reading the News & Record (our local paper) and munching on a whole-wheat bagel with cream cheese and sipping on my cup-a-joe.
The headline "Bigger Means Faster" caught my eye. The article (by Edward G. Robinson III of The News & Observer-Raleigh, NC) reports on a Duke University study that says modern athletes are larger than their predecessors, which translates into faster times. Basically it says that an animal's maximum velocity on land and in air and water is proportional to its mass—bigger should move faster than smaller.
Usain Bolt (6'4"; 189lbs) is 11 inches taller and 44lbs heavier and nearly three-quarters of a second faster than the 1929 100-meter dash world-record holder. The article goes on to say that record-holder sprinters and swimmers are an average of 4 inches taller than athletes from 1900 and the average human is 2 inches taller than in 1900. Guess that may be part of the reason 6'4" 200lbs Michael Phelps came home with 8 gold medals in 2008. So, my 5'6" 139 runner-body may have had a chance 100 years ago—NOT!
The researchers Adrian Bejan and Jordan Charles propose that eventually track and field and swimming may need to create weight categories similar to boxing in order to level the playing field.
Although the evidence is solid, many don't think we're quite at the point to where the sport needs to be changed. There are still shorter runners beating taller runners. It will definitely be interesting to see if this new theory holds true in the 2012 Olympics.
If you want to learn more about the study [click here].