The first competition in the first modern Olympics in 1896 to be the 100-meter dash, with American cutting board Burke winning yellow in a time that 12 seconds. More than a century later, the 100 meters remains among the much more popular events at the Olympics, and the win times have actually steadily improved. At the 2012 gamings in London, Jamaican Usain Bolt won gold v an Olympic-record time the 9.63 seconds, virtually 2.5 seconds quicker than Burke ran in 1896. (Bolt likewise holds the world record of 9.58, set at the 2009 people championships.)
The 100-meter dash may be the fastest event at the Olympics, yet there is so lot that walk on throughout those 10 seconds. Here"s a look in ~ the science and method in the race, in addition to the sprinters" see of those 100 meters.

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When gaining into the blocks, writer Warren Doscher writes in "The arts of Sprinting," the strongest leg have to be in the forward pedal the the starting block <1>. The fingertips have to be set just behind the beginning line (not touching it) <2> v the arms mainly straight but the elbow unlocked <3>.

In enhancement to listening for the starter"s gun, sprinters space keen to have actually their feet properly set in the blocks.Bill Frakes
Apart indigenous the men wondering just how they can beat Bolt, there is one thing sprinters to speak they are focused on after ~ they position themselves in the starting blocks. "Listen for the gun," states English Gardner, America"s peak female sprinter. "Nothing else matters however that. Friend can"t do anything else until the gun goes off. The worst point you have the right to do is false start. It"s one and also done in ours sport. Ns just shot to listen for the gun and also react." The rules used to be that you might false start once and also be offered a 2nd chance. The was readjusted in 2003. Friend can even be disqualified if you start too shortly after the total fires. Study has shown that a person cannot hear the gun and react in under a tenth the a second. Therefore, if you start sooner 보다 a tenth the a 2nd after the gun, it will certainly be thought about a false start. And you"re done. "A the majority of races are won and lost because a sprinter does no react appropriately to the gun," claims two-time Olympic 100 medalist Ato Boldon the Trinidad and Tobago. "You don"t desire to suspect the gun; you desire to react to it. There"s a difference. If you anticipate it and also you"re wrong, you"re walking to be out." "You don"t want to suspect the gun; you want to react to it. There"s a difference. If girlfriend anticipate it and you"re wrong, you"re walk to be out." In addition to hearne for the starter"s pistol, Warren Doscher to write in "The art of Sprinting," sprinters must make sure their feet room properly set and the the balls of their feet, ankles, knees and also hip joints room in alignment. Your head must be down. They must take a deep breath and hold it.And then, they should react come the gun.

When acquiring into the blocks, writer Warren Doscher write in "The art of Sprinting," the the strongest leg must be in the front pedal that the starting block <1>. The fingertips have to be collection just behind the starting line (not poignant it) <2> with the arms largely straight yet the elbows unlocked <3>.

There are various varieties of starts, including the jump and also the "get up and go" starts that might put you out front initially yet won"t help you. Write Doscher: "One can only advice forward as soon as the foot is ~ above the track applying backward pressure to it." throughout acceleration out of the blocks, a sprinter will drive out in a 45-degree edge <1>, relocating his eight in opposite directions in a large range of movement <2> with one arm driving forward and the other driving backward.

After the beginning gun fires, sprinters have to be mindful too no straighten up as well quickly.Ian Walton/Getty Images
American Justin Gatlin claims the begin is all around instinct. "I"m like, "All right, I"m wait for the gun and also getting set,"" claims Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100 gold medalist. "If you"re thinking, "Are mine arms too wide, space my arms also close together?" it"s over because that you. Friend just need to go top top instinct. It"s prefer blinking, choose breathing." less experienced runners might try to rise up quickly and also take fast steps to put themselves into an early lead, but two-time Olympic 100 gold medalist Carl Lewis differs. He claims the vital is no to take it immediate quick steps, however to take longer, much more powerful strides because that will aid you farther follow me in the race. "If your auto runs the end of gas, girlfriend don"t walk ahead and pull it," Lewis says. "You gain behind and also push it. And also when you push it, you remain on the an initial step and extend all the way until the next step. And also all the method until you prolong to the next step. And also that"s just how you obtain out of the blocks." "That"s precisely what i tell mine young kids," states Boldon, now a track and field analyst for NBC sports who also does part coaching. "If you have to push something heavy, you"re no going to push it native a 180-degree angle. You have to gain some loved one angle come the ago of the car. You"re do the efforts to get rid of inertia and also gravity in the first part of the race."
There room various types of starts, including the jump and also the "get up and go" beginning that might put you the end front initially however won"t help you. To write Doscher: "One can only advice forward as soon as the foot is on the track using backward pressure to it." throughout acceleration out of the blocks, a sprinter will drive out in a 45-degree angle <1>, relocating his eight in opposite directions in a big range of activity <2> with one arm driving forward and the other driving backward.
In 2012, Jamaica"s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, center, quickly kicked it right into high gear while win her second consecutive Olympic gold in the 100.Mark Ralston/AFP/GettyImages
By now, the sprinters have pushed tough to acquire themselves moving, and hopefully lock are much more of a Ferrari than a Ford F650 truck. It"s time to start accelerating without stand up as well tall, too quickly. "You don"t desire to rush your transition and snap your head up, since you have all this an excellent momentum walk forward," Boldon says. "You desire to slowly yet surely stand as much as your upright running position. "You want to relax her head and stay short in a pushing position so your very first 10-15 steps, i m sorry will get you come 20-25 meters, will certainly be low, efficient and powerful." The complete strides in the 100 selection from 40-41 for Bolt to approximately 50 for the top women. Doscher writes that to diminish the braking result of the foot once runners step on the ground, they should have their knees slightly bent once doing so. In "Sprinting," writer Ryan McGill states the runner must keep ground contacts as "bouncy" together they can, compare it to running throughout hot coals.
At this point, sprinters will typically have perfect the begin phase and will now be in the complete running phase. Save the human body as calm as feasible with shoulders down, leaning forward to keep balance <1>. Feet floor under hips with no overstride or extreme braking. There must be no wasted energy through torso rotation <2>.
Sprinters begin to technique top rate after increasing for the very first 30 meter of the 100.VCG/VCG via Getty Images
The size of the stride deserve to be much more important than the quickness, i m sorry is one factor Bolt, that is 6-foot-5, is so fast. But just due to the fact that you aren"t high doesn"t average you still can"t be fast. Trayvon Bromell is 5-9, yet he was the first junior sprinter come beat the 10-second note in the 100. He likewise finished 2nd in the U.S. Olympic trials in 9.84, simply four-hundredths that a second behind Gatlin. "I claimed in the third grade the I want to it is in an Olympian, and people laughed at me," Bromell said afterward. "Now I"m here." regardless of height, height sprinters will start to with their top speed soon after reaching 30 meter in the acceleration phase."It"s the fastest part of the race," Boldon says. "Where you"re walking to acquire to your absolute top end speed, for most sprinters it"s from 35 to 55 meters in the race."
At this point, sprinters will normally have perfect the start phase and will currently be in the full running phase. Save the body as tranquil as possible with shoulders down, leaning forward to maintain balance <1>. Feet soil under hips with no overstride or excessive braking. There need to be no wasted power through torso rotation <2>.
Donovan Bailey knew no to look ago while beating Frankie Fredericks, center, and Ato Boldon, right, at the 1996 Olympics.Getty Images/Staff
One important aspect of the 100 is to constantly stay focused on yourself and the track ahead the you. Glancing to her left or right to see where your competitors are will just slow you down. "You should have the ability to run 100 meters choose a equine in the Kentucky Derby v blinders on," Boldon says. "Nothing in the 100 should ever reason a sprinter to look to his left or right." Boldon knows that full well. He glanced end to Namibia"s Frankie Fredericks in the 1996 Olympics and also fell behind him, which obtained him bronze rather than silver. "I know an ext than many that you have the right to do it," Boldon says, "but you have to spend the remainder of her life telling human being why it price you a medal in the Olympic Games."
Runners will be at peak speed halfway through the race. Stride length is generally much more important than stride frequency <1>. Usain Bolt"s stride is around 8 feet every step.
At this point, the sprinter is in ~ his peak. He is upright and likewise running his fastest. Just how fast? The finest will be to run at 25 to 26 mph. In his book, Doescher states that in addition to keeping the body in alignment, the arms should be swung to the rear, with elbows slightly far from the sides and also no arm crossover. What is it favor halfway with the race? "It"s a lot favor driving," Gatlin says. "When you"re driving, you understand what you"re doing, yet you"re checking the mirrors, whereby you"re at. "OK, turn, rotate signal." It"s like you"re going with the checks and also balances of what you need to do to acquire down the race. For this reason it"s the journey phase. Come out of the drive phase, run, stand tall, save going."
Runners will certainly be at peak speed halfway v the race. Stride size is generally more important 보다 stride frequency <1>. Usain Bolt"s stride is about 8 feet per step.
English Gardner is therefore locked in in ~ the 60-meter note that she can"t remember what she thinks about.Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Gardner states she doesn"t mental what go on in she head at this suggest in the race. "I"m in one more world," she says. "That"s once my transform ego takes over. I"m not even there anymore." She"s there, she"s just focused on running. And also winning. Gatlin says that at everything speed he has actually reached in ~ 60, "That"s every I can hold. So ns just have to bluff my way through. I require to acquire my way out front of the field. And hold on."
All sprinters will sluggish down by this point. In addition to maintaining proper technique to store from slowing as well much, Ryan McGill, writer of "Sprinting," argues that sprinters must wear sunglasses if the sun is out due to the fact that squinting have the right to slow you also more.

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While it deserve to be hard for observers to tell, runners start slowing down after 70 meters.Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images
When you clock a 100-meter race, you might think that a sprinter pulling away near the finish is gaining speed top top everyone. The is not the case. Anyone slows under by 70 meters, if no earlier. Boldon states the id that some room able come get faster at this stage is a myth, or at the very least an illusion resulted in by seeing someone pulling ahead. "Everybody in that last 35 to 40 meters is decelerating," Boldon says. "If you check out somebody pull away, it"s due to the fact that they room decelerating less than the others. However everybody, no issue who castle are, as lengthy as you are a human, you room decelerating in the last 3rd of the 100." the isn"t the dramatic a drop -- Boldon states the finest will sluggish down by maybe 2 mph - yet it is sufficient to do the difference. "At 70 meters, you"ve got to maintain and keep those knee up," states Bromell. "People often tend to get to 70 and also think, "Oh, I"m walking to kick it into one more gear," however that doesn"t happen. Girlfriend actually finish up pressing and slow down even faster."
All sprinters will sluggish down through this point. In enhancement to maintaining proper an approach to save from slowing also much, Ryan McGill, author of "Sprinting," suggests suggests that sprinters have to wear sunglasses if the sunlight is out due to the fact that squinting deserve to slow you also more.
As sprinters obtain closer to the complete line, they deserve to use their peripheral vision to evaluate the situation in a near race.Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images
While sprinters are not claimed to look at to their left or right, Boldon claims at this point, lock can begin to rely on your peripheral vision. "If you"re through yourself, you can sort of start planning just how you"re going come celebrate," he says. "But if you have actually company, and also even if you"re not transforming your gaze to left or right, you"re thinking about assessing what"s in your peripheral vision and thinking, "All right. I have a slim lead," or "I have a slight deficit to make up." and now you"re thinking, "Is this a deficit I deserve to overcome with a skinny at the tape?" or "Is this a lead i can defend with a great lean in ~ the tape?" "So your peripheral vision i do not care a genuine factor. Now you need to assess, "Am ns leading? Am ns second? Am i third?" You have a psychological decision come make. All this is gift processed in minute fractions of a second." Especially since you are gaining close to the finish.
How Bolt"s document 9.58-second 100-meter dash looks when damaged down into 10-meter increments: source:
Carl Lewis knew come stay serene over the last 10 meters during a semifinal race at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.Focus ~ above Sport/Getty Images
Sprinters occasionally make terrible mistakes in ~ this point. Gatlin walk at critical year"s people championships in Beijing. He remained in the lead and had a chance to finally beat Bolt. Climate he stumbled slightly, his arms began to flail and he lost to Bolt by one eyelash, 9.79 to 9.80. Gatlin claims that"s what brought about him to shed that race: "You get caught up in the excitement, you desire more, you shot to go for more, and also you simply lose yourself. You need to stay calm and run to the complete line." The lesson? "Don"t gain greedy," Gatlin says. "Theoretically, male is not supposed to run quicker after 70 meters. For this reason after 70 meters I have to be certain I"m running strong, running tall and also getting come the complete line. If I obtain greedy and start searching for something else, climate I"m losing all mine technique, losing my balance. Going forward, going back, arms space flailing; you"re getting to for something that"s no there. You"re already there. And it"s choose you"re reaching for more. And once you"re up over there trying to get it, you"re going to loss down." Lewis claims the crucial is continuing to be relaxed. "That"s the hardest component of the 100 meters," that says. "You have to stay relaxed and let the finish line involved you."
Leaning too early at the complete line can cost precious time in a tight race.Giuliano Bevilacqua/Corbis via Getty Images
9.27 seconds: the time Australian physiologist and sports scientist Jeremy Richmond trust is achievable because that humans. Story
Gardner claims that when she is running, a the majority of times she gets into a zone wherein she doesn"t see or hear anything from her competitors. Not till right prior to the line. And also that"s when, she says, "I type of snap the end of it. "OK, lean!"" due to the fact that times are based on when the trunk of a sprinter"s body the cross the line, leaning your body front to the line can help you win. Yet if you lean also early, it additionally can do you lose. "Most sprinters lean as well early," Boldon says. "You need to lean on optimal of the line. A perfect skinny comes nearly when you are able to put your foot on end up line. Most males who are falling personal form-wise or simply desperate because that the finish line will certainly lean about a meter or two too early. For this reason I try to tell my athletes, skinny on peak of the line together opposed to leaning to the line. "If girlfriend lean as well early, you actually rapidly increase your deceleration, and also you"ve done much more harm than good. For this reason a the majority of times an early lean will cost you the race rather than success you the race." In various other words, you perform not want to perform anything that will slow-moving you down further. You want to cross the heat at the fastest speed possible. So skinny at the really end. And then hope you somehow beat Bolt, who might already be acquiring ready to execute his bow-and-arrow success pose.
9.27 seconds: the moment Australian physiologist and also sports scientist Jeremy Richmond believes is achievable because that humans. Story
when the men"s document in the 100 has actually been damaged repeatedly over past years -- going from 9.92 secs in 1988 to 9.58 currently -- the women"s record has not. Florence-Griffith Joyner ran 10.49 in 1988, and also the peak sprint due to the fact that then is 10.64 by American Carmelita Jeter in 2009. (This graph reflects a selection of 100-meter records over time, not the complete progression.)