How Is It Possible That Olympic Athletes Keep Breaking World Records?

How Is It Possible That Olympic Athletes Keep Breaking World Records?

The Olympics are over. Athletes have been crowned. GIFs have been made. And world records have been broken. In four years, we’ll do the same thing all over again. And world records will continue to be broken. How is that possible? How do Olympic athletes keep getting better and keep breaking records? Will it ever stop? Can humans ever max out?

According to a quick search on the wonderful world wide web, 43 world records were set in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 37 world records were set in the 2012 games. You can bet that records will be broken in Rio de Janeiro for 2016. Even if the rate of our improvement in athletic achievement has slowed down a bit (compared to say 50 years ago), we’re still going to break records. How are athletes still getting better?

Discovery News says that scientists and experts cite a number of different reasons for our constant improvement, from technology improvements to professional opportunities to more people trying different sports to even having broken records beget more broken records — it’s a combination of all these little factors that add up to new world records. Is there a theoretical max for the human body? According to Discovery News, there is:

Through calculations of maximum power output, oxygen use, heart function and other factors, some researchers have attempted to predict what the absolute limits of human ability will be. Much-debated estimates include 1:58 for the marathon (a five-minute improvement over the current men’s record of 2:03.38), and 9.48 for the men’s 100m.

The interesting thing though is that when science says humans cannot go any faster or lift any more or do anything else, they’ve been proven wrong. It’s amazing how much power the mind has over the body — when an old record is broken, the new world record gives another generation of Olympic athletes a standard to beat. So even if it seems as if we’ll eventually reach a ceiling for world records and max out our body, there’ll always be someone else who will try to beat it. And they’ll eventually succeed. Read the whole report at Discovery News. [Discovery News]