Researchers from France claim that the potential of human development may have been reached and the expectations of new world records in track and field and swimming events are limited by technology and the limit of human ability.
To quote the research”we present a growth model for 41351 best performers from 70 track and field (T&F) and swimming events and detail their characteristics over the modern Olympic era. We show that 64% of T&F events no longer improved since 1993, while 47% of swimming events stagnated after 1990, prior to a second progression step starting in 2000. Since then, 100% of swimming events continued to progress.”.
“We also provide a measurement of the atypicity for the 3919 best performances (BP) of each year in every event. The secular evolution of this parameter for T&F reveals four peaks; the most recent (1988) followed by a major stagnation. This last peak may correspond to the most recent successful attempt to push forward human physiological limits. No atypicity trend is detected in swimming. The upcoming rarefaction of new records in sport may be delayed by technological innovations, themselves depending upon economical constraints.”
The analysis is statically accurate and concludes that swimming events in particular may improve due to the improvement in the technology of swimsuits. They also conclude that women have reached their peak faster tan men.
This result is a conclusion based on 100 years of data and includes the concept of “atypical” performance by a given individual.There is no conclusion that an “atypical” athlete will not break an Olympic record despite the statistics. One cannot preclude the will of an individual in the matter of effort or mindset.
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0008800Citation: Berthelot G,
Tafflet M, El Helou N, Len S, Escolano S, et al. (2010) Athlete Atypicity on the Edge of Human Achievement: Performances Stagnate after the Last Peak, in 1988. PLoS ONE 5(1): e8800. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008800Geoffroy Berthelot1*, Muriel Tafflet1,2, Nour El Helou1,3, Stéphane
Len1, Sylvie Escolano1,2, Marion Guillaume1, Hala Nassif1,3, Julien Tolaïni1, Valérie Thibault1, François Denis Desgorces1,3, Olivier Hermine4, Jean-François Toussaint1,3,51
IRMES, Insep, Paris, France, 2 INSERM, U970, Paris, France, 3 Paris Descartes University, Faculty of Sciences, Paris, France, 4 Service d’hématologie Hôpital Necker and CNRS UMR 8147, Paris, France, 5 Centre d’Investigation de la Médecine du Sport (CIMS), Hôtel-Dieu, Assistance Publique – Hôpitaux de Paris, Paris, France