Track and field is a sport of extremes, taking the most basic athletic abilities of running, jumping, and throwing, and distilling them into the Olympic motto: Citius, Altius, Fortius. For centuries the world was intrigued by the demands and outcome of these quests. However, since Mexico City 1968, when the newly post-colonial nations of the world began competing internationally, the outer limits of speed in both sprinting and distance running have settled into predictable patterns. Four decades later we are seeing the full results of that predictability as the sport of track and field continues to wither on the vine.
After watching the first round of Samsung Diamond League finals from Zurich yesterday, I did a quick workup of the fastest times in the world in 2011for 5000m, 10,000m, half-marathon, and marathon gathered from the IAAF site. As always, the numbers reveal an unambiguous, but intriguing story. (more…)