Comparing 100m Sprinting/Sea-Level Still Wind Trends

Fastest | Best Sub 9.90 | All Time Best 100 | Annual Top 10 & 20 | Trending Annual Averages


What Does Fastest Mean?

IAAF rules for 100 m sprinting do not recognise a record time if the wind assistance exceeds 2 m/s (a very gentle breeze), and flag it as altitude assisted if run at a location above 1000 m altitude.

This page contains large tables - around 220K bytes of data and 60 K bytes of graphics. You can start reading while the balance loads...

How far should this recognition of the assistance or hindrance of wind and altitude be taken ? When events are timed to 0.01 second precision, could records and outcomes be determined by climatic conditions, or other chance events ? Is it fair to equate a time for 100 m race where the athlete had a 2m/s tailwind with one run into a 2 m/s headwind ? If not, how can events run in different climatic conditions be compared ?

Physicist Jonas Mureika Ph D has proposed an approximate model for adjusting times to account for the wind and altitude variables. He has posted a list of best sub 9.90 second performances on the sub-10 discussion forum to serve as an example for how performance might be more fairly compared.

For further information on the correction see "9.84 vs 9.84", J.R.Mureika, in Athletics: Canada's National Track and Field / Running Magazine (December 1999) which is an informal treatment of the correction. For a more detailed mathematical treatment see "9.84 v 8.84", J. R. Mureika, and "The Legality of Wind and Altitude Assisted Performances in the Sprints", New Studies in Athletics (15) 3/4, 53-60 (2000) (published October 2001)).

The reader should also be aware of the imprecision of the wind measurement, which is based on a reading from a single guage over 10 seconds. See a discussion of this here

Do Mureika's methods produce results that make more sense than the alternative of ignoring wind and altitude assistance within the wide-span accepted presently by the IAAF ?

Scientific comparison of top 100m performances
Author: JRM, May/13/2003 20:43:40 [+01]

JRM posted the following comparison of the best recent 100m times on the Sub10 Discussion Forum.

Just to set the record straight, here's my take on what the top (sub-9.90) 100m performances are. The recorded raw time and speed are shown in the last two columns:

Table 1 - Wind & Altitude Adjusted Sub 9.90 100m Rankings

Corrected
Time

Name Venue Date
Raw
time
wind
9.80 Maurice Greene Athêna 1999-06-16 9.79 0.1
9.81 Maurice Greene Sevilla 1999-08-22 9.8
0.2
9.83 Maurice Greene Edmonton 2001-08-05 9.82
-0.2
9.84 Ato Boldon Athêna 1998-06-17 9.86
-0.4
9.85 Maurice Greene Berlin 2000-09-01 9.86
-0.2
9.85 Bruny Surin Sevilla 1999-08-22 9.84
0.2
9.85 Johnson Ben Seoul 1988-09-24 9.79
1.1
9.85 Maurice Greene Sydney 2000-09-23 9.87
-0.3
9.86 Frank Fredericks Lausanne 1996-07-03 9.86
-0.4
9.86 Tim Montgomery Edmonton 2001-08-05 9.85
-0.2
9.87 Ato Boldon Athêna 1999-06-16 9.86
0.1
9.88 Maurice Greene Athêna 1997-08-03 9.86
0.2
9.88 Ato Boldon Kuala Lumpur 1998-09-17 9.88
-0.1
9.89 Tim Montgomery Paris 2002-09-14 9.78
2
9.89 Maurice Greene Osaka 2000-05-13 9.91
-0.4
9.89 Johnson Ben Seoul 1987-08-30 9.83
1
9.89 Donovan Bailey Atlanta 1996-07-27 9.84
0.7
9.89 Donovan Bailey Abbotsford 1997-07-19 10.03
-2.1
9.89 Leroy Burrell Barcelona 1992-08-01 9.97
-1.3
9.89 Calvin Smith Bruxelles 1983-08-26 10.04
-2.2

So, Greene has gone sub-9.90 seven times, followed by Boldon (three), Montgomery (two), Bailey (two), and Johnson (Two).

Just as a side note to Conway: TM *has* run sub-9.90 while winning. Even if you argue wind adjustments, his 9.78 still qualifies. Like him or not, you can't factor Tim out of the all-time top lists without contradictory statements.

I refuse to argue favorites here. To be honest, my favorite sprinter of all time is probably Frank Fredericks, and I could come up with a myriad of ways that he qualifies as the greatest ever. However, the rationale would probably be flawed and contradictory at some point...

JRM includes Ben Johnson - arguing that there are probably other drug-affected performances that haven't been and won't be expunged from the record books.

The table highlights the element of lucky wind in Tim Montgomery's world record. At least on the basis of JRM's assessment, Maurice Greene's performances are superior.

All Time Best 100 m

Figure 1 below is a scatter diagram showing the full list of sub-10 second electronically timed runs (all-time best list from IAAF's site as published May 24th 2003). The scatter of the wind and altitude corrected performances is also plotted:

scatter diagram 2004

Figure 1 - Scatter Diagram of 100 m Sprints


The scatter diagram plots a magenta + against the date and time an IAAF recognised sub-10 second performance was recorded. There is also a green x plotted for the corresponding equivalent sea-level still wind time (i.e. altitude and wind corrected).

A magenta line connects the official world record marks. The green line connects the best-ever sea-level still wind equivalent performances.

Figure 1 shows World Records for Leroy Burrell in 91, Carl Lewis in 91, and Donovan Bailey in 96 have only been achieved with the assistance of wind and altitude.

After correcting for wind-and-alititude:

  1. Maurice Greene's 99 world records would stand. Every other world record had wind assistance that ranks it inferior to the best wind-corrected run of the time.
  2. Burrell's 94 run would have been a "wind-and-altitude" corrected world record.
  3. Fredericks in 96 and Ato Boldon in 98 would also have rated as world records.
  4. Calvin Smith's 3rd Jul 83 altitude wind assisted 9.93 world record would not stand, but his 10.04 into 2.2 m headwind on 25th Aug 83 (at Bruxelles) would rate as a record (corrected to 9.90)
  5. Viktor Bryzgin's 1986 run of 10.03 secs into a 2.5m headwind would have been a world record.
    Until 2004, some statisticians had categorized the wind reading for this run as doubtful. But the IAAF records list published Dec 2003 has it as legal. It looks no more or less suspicious than Smith's run
  6. Leroy Burrell's 91, Carl Lewis' 91 and Carl Lewis '88 world records would not stand
  7. Tim Montgomery's 2002 world record would not make the grade.

The sudden plunge in the world record line around 1991 is often attributed to the introduction of the Mondo synthetic tracks. But after correcting for the wind and altitude, there is not such an obvious effect - the plunge doesn't happen until Maurice Greene hits his straps in 99.

The general pattern in Figure 1 shows that correcting for wind and altitude results in an upwards shift in times (green x are mostly above corresponding magenta +). Figure 1 also shows that most elite performances occur in the Northern hemisphere summer and autumn. A strong increase in sub-10 second runs can also be seen in Figure 1 - but note that until 1995 the top-10 runs in any year were not all under 10 seconds.

Data Table

The data Figure 1 is based on is also presented in Table 2 below and agrees with the list posted by JRM.

The data shows all runs officially timed at under 10 seconds with a legal wind as published on IAAF web site at 20/12/2003. Ben Johnson's performances have been excluded (as per IAAF site). Viktor Bryzgin's 10.03 in 1986, Donovan Bailey's 10.03 in 1997 and Calvin Smith's 1983 10.04, all into strong headwinds, have been included here because they adjust to times under 10 seconds.

In Table 2, the Raw Rank column is the rank as per the IAAF statistics, using the officially clocked times. Wind is in meters/sec, with positive value assisting the athlete. The Adjusted Time and Adj Rank columns show times corrected for wind and altitude using Mureika's back-of-the-envelope formula. The Up column shows how many places up the ranking a performance is lifted by the adjustment (negative values occur typcially where high assisting winds result in a fall after adjustment). The Record Type column shows a W for a world record performance, and an A if the adjusted time would have been a world record (for either W or A, the whole row is emphasised in bold font).

Also shown below is table 3 with the best 20 performances for each year from 1998 to 2002. One of the outstanding features of this recent data is Maurice Greene's domination of the 100 m event in recent years.

Table 2 - Wind & Altitude Adjusted All-Time Best 100 m Rankings

Adjusted
Time
Name Venue Date Raw
Time
Wind Raw
Rank
Adj
Rank
Up Record
Type
9.80 Maurice Greene Athína 16 06 1999 9.79 0.1 2 1 1 W&A
9.81 Maurice Greene Sevilla 22 08 1999 9.8 0.2 3 2 1  
9.83 Maurice Greene Edmonton 05 08 2001 9.82 -0.2 4 3 1  
9.84 Ato Boldon Athína 17 06 1998 9.86 -0.4 11 4 7 A
9.85 Maurice Greene Berlin 01 09 2000 9.86 -0.2 12 5 7  
9.85 Bruny Surin Sevilla 22 08 1999 9.84 0.2 5 6 -1  
9.85 Maurice Greene Sydney 23 09 2000 9.87 -0.3 19 7 12  
9.86 Frank Fredericks Lausanne 03 07 1996 9.86 -0.4 13 8 5 A
9.86 Tim Montgomery Edmonton 05 08 2001 9.85 -0.2 8 9 -1  
9.87 Viktor Bryzgin Leningrad 07 06 1986 10.03 -2.5 286 10 276 A
9.87 Ato Boldon Athína 16 06 1999 9.86 0.1 14 11 3  
9.87 Maurice Greene Athína 03 08 1997 9.86 0.2 15 12 3  
9.88 Ato Boldon Kuala Lumpur 17 09 1998 9.88 -0.1 26 13 13  
9.88 Tim Montgomery Paris 14 09 2002 9.78 2 1 14 -13 W
9.89 Maurice Greene Osaka 13 05 2000 9.91 -0.4 46 15 31  
9.89 Leroy Burrell Barcelona 01 08 1992 9.97 -1.3 159 16 143 A
9.89 Donovan Bailey Atlanta, GA 27 07 1996 9.84 0.7 6 17 -11 W
9.89 Donovan Bailey Abbotsford 19 07 1997 10.03 -2.1 287 18 269  
9.89 Maurice Greene Athína 11 06 2001 9.91 -0.3 47 19 28  
9.90 Maurice Greene Roma 07 07 1999 9.85 0.8 9 20 -11  
9.90 Calvin Smith Bruxelles 26 08 1983 10.04 -2.2 294 21 273 A
9.90 Maurice Greene Uniondale, NY 21 07 1998 9.96 -1 129 22 107  
9.90 Maurice Greene Sevilla 21 08 1999 9.91 -0.2 48 23 25  
9.90 Michael Marsh Walnut, CA 18 04 1992 9.93 -0.6 70 24 46  
9.90 Linford Christie Stuttgart 15 08 1993 9.87 0.3 20 25 -5  
9.90 Maurice Greene Zürich 11 08 2000 9.94 -1 87 26 61  
9.90 Maurice Greene Edmonton 04 08 2001 9.88 0 27 27 0  
9.90 Ato Boldon Lausanne 02 07 1999 9.86 0.4 16 28 -12  
9.90 Ato Boldon Atlanta, GA 27 07 1996 9.93 -0.6 71 29 42  
9.91 Maurice Greene Stockholm 30 07 1999 9.87 0.6 21 30 -9  
9.91 Frank Fredericks Athína 17 06 1998 9.93 -0.4 72 31 41  
9.91 Frank Fredericks Bruxelles 22 08 1997 9.9 0.2 34 32 2  
9.92 Ato Boldon Stuttgart 13 07 1997 9.9 0 35 33 2  
9.92 Maurice Greene Sevilla 22 08 1999 9.96 -0.7 130 34 96  
9.92 Maurice Greene Stockholm 05 08 1998 9.9 0.3 36 35 1  
9.92 Obadele Thompson Johannesburg 11 09 1998 9.87 -0.2 22 36 -14  
9.92 Frank Fredericks Atlanta, GA 27 07 1996 9.94 -0.5 88 37 51  
9.92 Maurice Greene Indianapolis, IN 13 06 1997 9.9 0.2 37 38 -1  
9.92 Maurice Greene Eugene, OR 21 06 2001 9.9 0.3 38 39 -1  
9.92 Tim Montgomery Zürich 16 08 2002 9.98 -1.3 198 40 158  
9.92 Donovan Bailey Athína 03 08 1997 9.91 0.2 49 41 8  
9.92 Maurice Greene Bruxelles 28 08 1998 9.94 -0.3 89 42 47  
9.93 Carl Lewis Tokyo 25 08 1991 9.86 1.2 17 43 -26 W
9.93 Maurice Greene Lausanne 25 08 1998 9.92 -0.3 56 44 12  
9.93 Tim Montgomery Bruxelles 30 08 2002 9.91 0.3 50 45 5  
9.93 Davidson Ezinwa Walnut, CA 18 04 1992 9.96 -0.6 131 46 85  
9.93 Maurice Greene Athína 03 08 1997 9.9 0.5 39 47 -8  
9.93 Donovan Bailey Lausanne 03 07 1996 9.93 -0.4 73 48 25  
9.93 Tim Montgomery Zürich 17 08 2001 9.9 0.2 40 49 -9  
9.93 Obadele Thompso Zürich 11 08 2000 9.97 -1 160 50 110  
9.93 Maurice Greene London 22 07 2001 9.98 -0.8 199 51 148  
9.93 Leroy Burrell Lausanne 06 07 1994 9.85 1.2 10 52 -42 W
9.93 Maurice Greene Bruxelles 22 08 1997 9.92 0.2 57 53 4  
9.94 Maurice Greene London 07 08 1999 9.97 -0.6 161 54 107  
9.94 Ato Boldon Modesto, CA 10 05 1997 9.89 0.8 30 55 -25  
9.94 Maurice Greene Paris 06 07 2001 9.96 -0.4 132 56 76  
9.94 Frank Fredericks Atlanta, GA 27 07 1996 9.89 0.7 31 57 -26  
9.94 Bruny Surin Sevilla 21 08 1999 9.95 -0.2 111 58 53  
9.94 Tim Montgomery Indianapolis, IN 13 06 1997 9.92 0.2 58 59 -1  
9.94 Ato Boldon Lausanne 03 07 1996 9.94 -0.4 90 60 30  
9.94 Maurice Greene Roma 12 07 2002 9.89 0.9 32 61 -29  
9.94 Bruny Surin Sevilla 22 08 1999 9.96 -0.3 133 62 71  
9.94 Ato Boldon Atlanta, GA 26 07 1996 9.95 -0.3 112 63 49  
9.94 Tim Montgomery Edmonton 04 08 2001 9.92 0 59 64 -5  
9.94 Ato Boldon Athína 02 08 1997 9.87 1.3 23 65 -42  
9.95 Seun Ogunkoya Zürich 12 08 1998 9.96 -0.6 134 66 68  
9.95 Leroy Burrell Tokyo 25 08 1991 9.88 1.2 28 67 -39  
9.95 Maurice Greene Berlin 01 09 1998 9.94 0.1 91 68 23  
9.95 Seun Ogunkoya Dakar 19 08 1998 9.94 0.1 92 69 23  
9.95 Maurice Greene Sacramento 14 07 2000 9.93 0.3 74 70 4  
9.95 Donovan Bailey Köln 24 08 1997 9.99 -0.7 225 71 154  
9.95 Ato Boldon Atlanta, GA 27 07 1996 9.9 0.7 41 72 -31  
9.95 Tim Montgomery Oslo 13 07 2001 9.84 2 7 73 -66  
9.95 Jon Drummond Berlin 01 09 2000 9.96 -0.2 135 74 61  
9.95 Andre Cason Stuttgart 15 08 1993 9.92 0.3 60 75 -15  
9.95 Bernard Williams Edmonton 05 08 2001 9.94 -0.2 93 76 17  
9.95 Tim Montgomery Athína 03 08 1997 9.94 0.2 94 77 17  
9.95 Tim Montgomery Bruxelles 22 08 1997 9.94 0.2 95 78 17  
9.95 Maurice Greene Osaka 12 05 2001 9.96 -0.1 136 79 57  
9.95 Ato Boldon Athína 11 06 2001 9.97 -0.3 162 80 82  
9.96 Donovan Bailey Luzern 27 06 2000 9.98 -0.7 200 81 119  
9.96 Frank Fredericks Kuala Lumpur 17 09 1998 9.96 -0.1 137 82 55  
9.96 Ato Boldon WALNUT, CA 19 04 1998 9.86 1.8 18 83 -65  
9.96 Ato Boldon Monaco 08 08 1998 9.92 0.7 61 84 -23  
9.96 Frank Fredericks Zürich 13 08 1997 9.98 -0.7 201 85 116  
9.96 Maurice Greene Sydney 28 02 1998 9.99 -0.5 226 86 140  
9.96 Maurice Greene Athína 10 06 2002 9.97 -0.2 163 87 76  
9.96 Davidson Ezinwa Linz 04 07 1994 9.94 0.2 96 88 8  
9.96 Frank Fredericks Athína 03 08 1997 9.93 0.5 75 89 -14  
9.96 Dwain Chambers München 07 08 2002 9.96 -0.3 138 90 48  
9.96 Ato Boldon Kuala Lumpur 17 09 1998 9.96 0 139 91 48  
9.96 Tim Montgomery Bruxelles 24 08 2001 9.96 0 140 92 48  
9.96 Frank Fredericks Athína 03 08 1997 9.95 0.2 113 93 20  
9.97 Ato Boldon Athína 16 06 1999 9.97 -0.1 164 94 70  
9.97 Ato Boldon Eugene, OR 01 06 1996 9.92 0.8 62 95 -33  
9.97 Frank Fredericks Oslo 09 07 1998 9.95 0.2 114 96 18  
9.97 Seun Ogunkoya Johannesburg 11 09 1998 9.92 -0.2 63 97 -34  
9.97 Andre Cason Stuttgart 14 08 1993 9.96 -0.1 141 98 43  
9.97 Maurice Greene Zürich 11 08 1999 9.99 -0.7 227 99 128  
9.97 Maurice Greene Zürich 13 08 1997 9.99 -0.7 228 100 128  
9.97 Frank Fredericks Helsinki 25 06 1996 9.87 1.9 24 101 -77  
9.97 Andre Cason Stuttgart 15 08 1993 9.94 0.3 97 102 -5  
9.97 Frank Fredericks Roma 14 07 1998 9.97 0 165 103 62  
9.97 Ato Boldon Sydney 23 09 2000 9.99 -0.3 229 104 125  
9.97 Bruny Surin Montréal 01 08 1998 9.89 1.5 33 105 -72  
9.97 Bernard Williams Edmonton 04 08 2001 9.95 0 115 106 9  
9.97 Dennis Mitchell Durham, NC 13 08 1994 9.94 0.5 98 107 -9  
9.97 Jon Drummond Indianapolis, IN 12 06 1997 9.92 0.8 64 108 -44  
9.97 Maurice Greene Athína 02 08 1997 9.9 1.3 42 109 -67  
9.97 Melvin Lattany Athens, GA 05 05 1984 9.96 0.1 142 110 32  
9.97 Maurice Greene Lausanne 02 07 1999 9.93 0.4 76 111 -35  
9.97 Maurice Greene Lausanne 02 07 1997 9.9 1 43 112 -69  
9.98 Maurice Greene Monaco 19 07 2002 9.97 0.1 166 113 53  
9.98 Dwain Chambers Paris 14 09 2002 9.87 2 25 114 -89  
9.98 Dennis Mitchell Tokyo 25 08 1991 9.91 1.2 51 115 -64  
9.98 Frank Fredericks Dakar 19 08 1998 9.97 0.1 167 116 51  
9.98 Bruny Surin Athína 16 06 1999 9.97 0.1 168 117 51  
9.98 Maurice Greene Oslo 09 07 1998 9.96 0.2 143 118 25  
9.98 Donovan Bailey Nürnberg 13 06 1997 9.94 0.5 99 119 -20  
9.98 Ato Boldon Stockholm 05 08 1998 9.96 0.3 144 120 24  
9.98 Maurice Greene Lausanne 04 07 2001 9.9 1.1 44 121 -77  
9.98 Bernard Williams Eugene, OR 21 06 2001 9.96 0.3 145 122 23  
9.98 Donovan Bailey Montréal 21 06 1996 9.98 0 202 123 79  
9.98 Dwain Chambers Sevilla 22 08 1999 9.97 0.2 169 124 45  
9.98 Jon Drummond Atlanta, GA 14 06 1996 9.99 -0.3 230 125 105  
9.98 Frank Fredericks Kuala Lumpur 17 09 1998 9.98 0 203 126 77  
9.98 Donovan Bailey Montréal 15 07 1995 9.91 1.3 52 127 -75  
9.98 Leroy Burrell Lausanne 10 07 1991 9.96 0 146 128 18  
9.98 Carl Lewis Seoul 24 09 1988 9.92 1.1 65 129 -64 W
9.98 Jon Drummond Atlanta, GA 15 06 1996 9.98 -0.1 204 130 74  
9.99 Frank Fredericks Lausanne 02 07 1997 9.91 1 53 131 -78  
9.99 Ato Boldon Stockholm 07 07 1997 9.95 0.6 116 132 -16  
9.99 Leroy Burrell Houston, TX 16 06 1989 9.94 0.8 100 133 -33  
9.99 Linford Christie Tokyo 25 08 1991 9.92 1.2 66 134 -68  
9.99 Carl Lewis Roma 30 08 1987 9.93 1 77 135 -58  
9.99 Jon Drummond Berlin 01 09 1998 9.98 0.1 205 136 69  
9.99 Frank Fredericks Windhoek 13 04 2002 9.94 -0.2 101 137 -36  
9.99 Tim Harden Luzern 05 07 1999 9.92 1 67 138 -71  
9.99 Dennis Mitchell Atlanta, GA 15 06 1996 9.92 1.1 68 139 -71  
9.99 Bruny Surin Nürnberg 13 06 1999 9.92 1.1 69 140 -71  
9.99 Ato Boldon Oslo 13 07 2001 9.88 2 29 141 -112  
9.99 Frank Fredericks Villeneuve-d'Ascq 29 06 1997 9.95 0.7 117 142 -25  
9.99 Dennis Mitchell Linz 04 07 1994 9.97 0.2 170 143 27  
9.99 Ato Boldon Roma 14 07 1998 9.99 0 231 144 87  
9.99 Ato Boldon Edmonton 05 08 2001 9.98 -0.2 206 145 61  
9.99 Carl Lewis Indianapolis, IN 15 07 1988 9.96 0.4 147 146 1  
9.99 Tim Montgomery Roma 12 07 2002 9.94 0.9 102 147 -45  
9.99 Donovan Bailey Vancouver 18 05 1997 9.99 0 232 148 84  
9.99 Dwain Chambers Edmonton 04 08 2001 9.97 0 171 149 22  
9.99 Mark Lewis-Francis Edmonton 04 08 2001 9.97 0 172 150 22  
9.99 Dennis Mitchell Milano 07 09 1996 9.91 1.5 54 151 -97  
9.99 Maurice Greene New Orleans, LA 19 06 1998 9.96 0.6 148 152 -4  
10.00 Deji Aliu Abuja 12 10 2003 9.95 0.6 118 153 -35  
10.00 Bernard Williams Monaco 19 07 2002 9.99 0.1 233 154 79  
10.00 Obadele Thompson Stockholm 30 07 1999 9.96 0.6 149 155 -6  
10.00 Vincent Henderson Leverkusen 09 08 1998 9.95 0.8 119 156 -37  
10.00 Ato Boldon Berlin 01 09 1998 9.99 0.1 234 157 77  
10.00 Steve Riddick Zürich 20 08 1975 10.05 -1.2 304 158 146 A
10.00 Frank Fredericks Atlanta, GA 26 07 1996 9.93 1.1 78 159 -81  
10.00 Donovan Bailey Monaco 08 08 1998 9.96 0.7 150 160 -10  
10.00 Kim Collins Manchester 27 07 2002 9.98 0.2 207 161 46  
10.00 Davidson Ezinwa Linz 04 07 1994 9.98 0.2 208 162 46  
10.00 Leroy Burrell Villeneuve-d'Ascq 29 06 1990 9.96 0.7 151 163 -12  
10.00 Leroy Burrell New York, NY 14 06 1991 9.9 1.9 45 164 -119 W
10.00 Dwain Chambers Edmonton 05 08 2001 9.99 -0.2 235 165 70  
10.00 Carl Lewis Los Angeles, CA 04 08 1984 9.99 0.2 236 166 70  
10.00 Leroy Burrell Tokyo 25 08 1991 9.94 1.1 103 167 -64  
10.00 Carl Lewis Tokyo 25 08 1991 9.93 1.3 79 168 -89  
10.01 Ato Boldon WALNUT, CA 21 04 1996 9.93 1.3 80 169 -89  
10.01 Carl Lewis Seoul 24 09 1988 9.97 0.6 173 170 3  
10.01 Carl Lewis Zürich 17 08 1988 9.93 1.1 81 171 -90  
10.01 Coby Miller Durham, NC 02 06 2000 9.98 0.4 209 172 37  
10.01 Frank Fredericks Berlin 26 08 1997 9.99 0.3 237 173 64  
10.01 Dwain Chambers London 23 08 2002 9.98 0.5 210 174 36  
10.01 Darrel Brown Paris 24 08 2003 10.01 0 274 175 99  
10.01 Maurice Greene Roma 30 06 2000 9.97 0.7 174 176 -2  
10.01 Daniel Effiong Stuttgart 15 08 1993 9.98 0.3 211 177 34  
10.01 Linford Christie Victoria, B.C. 23 08 1994 9.91 1.9 55 178 -123  
10.01 Frank Fredericks Saint-Denis 03 06 1996 9.95 1.1 120 179 -59  
10.01 Frank Fredericks Sydney 20 02 1999 9.94 1.3 104 180 -76  
10.01 Tim Montgomery Monaco 16 08 1997 9.99 0.4 238 181 57  
10.01 Donovan Bailey Montréal 01 08 1998 9.93 1.5 82 182 -100  
10.01 Kareem Streete -Thompson Indianapolis, IN 12 06 1997 9.96 0.8 152 183 -31  
10.01 Maurice Greene Paris 05 07 2002 9.99 0.4 239 184 55  
10.01 Tim Montgomery Pretoria 12 04 2002 9.94 0.6 105 185 -80  
10.02 Uchenna Emedolu Abuja 12 10 2003 9.97 0.6 175 186 -11  
10.02 Francis Obikwelu Berlin 31 08 2001 9.98 0.6 212 187 25  
10.02 Linford Christie Barcelona 01 08 1992 9.96 1 153 188 -35  
10.02 Maurice Greene Carson, CA 01 06 2003 9.94 1.4 106 189 -83  
10.02 Frank Fredericks Tokyo 25 08 1991 9.95 1.2 121 190 -69  
10.02 Bernard Williams Durham, NC 02 06 2000 9.99 0.4 240 191 49  
10.02 Brian Lewis Cayenne 04 05 2002 9.99 0.5 241 192 49  
10.02 Frank Fredericks Athína 02 08 1997 9.99 0.5 242 193 49  
10.02 Dennis Mitchell Stuttgart 15 08 1993 9.99 0.3 243 194 49  
10.02 Dennis Mitchell Stockholm 12 07 1994 9.97 0.9 176 195 -19  
10.02 Dennis Mitchell Atlanta, GA 15 06 1996 9.98 0.6 213 196 17  
10.02 Jon Drummond Durham, NC 13 08 1994 9.99 0.5 244 197 47  
10.03 Jason Gardener Lausanne 02 07 1999 9.98 0.4 214 198 16  
10.03 Ato Boldon Lausanne 05 07 2000 9.95 1 122 199 -77  
10.03 Matthew Shirvington Kuala Lumpur 17 09 1998 10.03 -0.1 288 200 88  
10.03 Michael Marsh WALNUT, CA 21 04 1996 9.95 1.3 123 201 -78  
10.03 Patrick Johnson Mito 05 05 2003 9.93 1.8 83 202 -119  
10.03 Donovan Bailey Göteborg 06 08 1995 9.97 1 177 203 -26  
10.03 Raymond Stewart Tokyo 25 08 1991 9.96 1.2 154 204 -50  
10.03 Maurice Greene Palo Alto, CA 21 06 2002 9.99 0.7 245 205 40  
10.03 Raymond Stewart Waco, TX 20 05 1989 9.97 1 178 206 -28  
10.03 Tim Montgomery Zürich 16 08 2002 9.93 1.6 84 207 -123  
10.03 Carl Lewis New York, NY 14 06 1991 9.93 1.9 85 208 -123  
10.03 Linford Christie Stuttgart 15 08 1993 9.97 0.9 179 209 -30  
10.03 Linford Christie Johannesburg 23 09 1995 9.97 0.1 180 210 -30  
10.03 Linford Christie Seoul 24 09 1988 9.97 1.1 181 211 -30  
10.04 Donovan Bailey Milano 07 09 1996 9.95 1.5 124 212 -88  
10.04 Jim Hines Ciudad de México 14 10 1968 9.95 0.3 125 213 -88 W
10.04 Shawn Crawford Osaka 11 05 2002 9.94 1.8 107 214 -107  
10.04 Frank Fredericks Johannesburg 27 03 1998 9.96 0.4 155 215 -60  
10.04 Frank Fredericks Kingston, JAM 19 09 1997 9.97 1.2 182 216 -34  
10.04 Ato Boldon Stuttgart 06 06 1999 9.97 1 183 217 -34  
10.04 Dennis Mitchell Atlanta, GA 27 07 1996 9.99 0.7 246 218 28  
10.04 Dwain Chambers Zürich 16 08 2002 9.94 1.6 108 219 -111  
10.04 Jon Drummond New Orleans, LA 19 06 1998 9.94 1.9 109 220 -111  
10.04 Olapade Adeniken Austin, TX 04 04 1992 9.97 1.2 184 221 -37  
10.04 Donovan Bailey Baton Rouge, LA 22 04 1995 9.99 0.9 247 222 25  
10.04 Bruny Surin Montréal 15 06 1995 9.97 1.3 185 223 -38  
10.05 Innocent Asonze Enugu 26 04 1997 10.04 0 295 224 71  
10.05 Donovan Bailey Lausanne 02 07 1997 9.97 1 186 225 -39  
10.05 Francis Obikwelu Lausanne 05 07 2000 9.97 1 187 226 -39  
10.05 Dennis Mitchell Oslo 22 07 1994 9.94 1.9 110 227 -117  
10.05 Jeff Williams Atlanta, GA 14 06 1996 10.02 0.3 278 228 50  
10.05 Frank Fredericks Villeneuve-d'Ascq 25 05 1996 9.99 1 248 229 19  
10.05 Tim Montgomery Osaka 11 05 2002 9.95 1.8 126 230 -104  
10.05 Calvin Smith Zürich 17 08 1988 9.97 1.1 188 231 -43  
10.05 Leonard Myles-Mills Johannesburg 15 09 1999 9.99 0 249 232 17  
10.05 Maurice Greene Indianapolis, IN 12 06 1997 9.96 1.5 156 233 -77  
10.05 Joshua J. Johnson Walnut, CA 21 04 2002 9.95 1.8 127 234 -107  
10.05 Seun Ogunkoya Formia 13 07 1997 9.97 1.5 189 235 -46  
10.05 Dennis Mitchell Tokyo 25 08 1991 9.99 1.1 250 236 14  
10.05 Linford Christie Tokyo 25 08 1991 9.99 1.1 251 237 14  
10.05 Calvin Smith Colorado Springs, CO 03 07 1983 9.93 1.4 86 238 -152 W
10.05 Carl Lewis Modesto, CA 14 05 1983 9.97 1.5 190 239 -49  
10.05 Tim Montgomery Indianapolis, IN 12 06 1997 9.96 1.6 157 240 -83  
10.05 Calvin Smith Seoul 24 09 1988 9.99 1.1 252 241 11  
10.06 Hasely Crawford Montréal 24 07 1976 10.06 -0.1 310 242 68  
10.06 Jeff Laynes Tempe, AZ 06 04 1996 10.01 0.6 275 243 32  
10.06 Joe DeLoach Eugene, OR 04 06 1988 10.03 0.4 289 244 45  
10.06 John Capel Zürich 15 08 2003 9.97 1.3 191 245 -54  
10.06 Justin Gatlin Zürich 15 08 2003 9.97 1.3 192 246 -54  
10.06 Chidi Imoh Berlin 15 08 1986 10 1 268 247 21  
10.06 Carl Lewis Zürich 22 08 1984 9.99 0.9 253 248 5  
10.06 Coby Miller Portland 18 05 2002 9.98 1.4 215 249 -34  
10.06 Percival Spencer Kingston 20 06 1997 9.98 1.4 216 250 -34  
10.06 Tim Montgomery Athína 02 08 1997 9.99 1.2 254 251 3  
10.06 Dwain Chambers Nürnberg 13 06 1999 9.99 1.1 255 252 3  
10.06 Daniel Sangouma Villeneuve-d'Ascq 29 06 1990 10.02 0.7 279 253 26  
10.06 Silvio Leonard Guadalajara 11 08 1977 9.98 0.6 217 254 -37  
10.06 Darren Campbell Budapest 19 08 1998 10.04 0.3 296 255 41  
10.06 Carl Lewis Houston, TX 06 05 1984 9.99 1.3 256 256 0  
10.07 Sunday Emmanuel Enugu 26 04 1997 10.06 0 311 257 54  
10.07 Shawn Crawford Pretoria 12 04 2002 9.99 0.6 257 258 -1  
10.07 Olapade Adeniken Austin, TX 05 06 1992 9.97 1.7 193 259 -66  
10.07 Asafa Powell Bruxelles 05 09 2003 10.02 0.8 280 260 20  
10.07 Carl Lewis Modesto, CA 11 05 1985 9.98 1.6 218 261 -43  
10.07 Emmit King Tampa, FL 17 06 1988 10.04 0.5 297 262 35  
10.07 Carl Lewis Seoul 23 09 1988 9.99 1.4 258 263 -5  
10.07 Ato Boldon Lausanne 04 07 2001 9.99 1.1 259 264 -5  
10.07 Eric Nkansah Nürnberg 13 06 1999 10 1.1 269 265 4  
10.07 Daniel Effiong Odessa, TX 21 05 1993 9.99 1 260 266 -6  
10.07 Calvin Smith Zürich 24 08 1983 9.97 1.6 194 267 -73  
10.07 Aziz Zakari Linz 20 08 2001 10.04 0.4 298 268 30  
10.07 Terrence Trammell Durham, NC 02 06 2000 10.04 0.5 299 269 30  
10.07 Andre Cason Knoxville, TN 15 06 1994 9.98 1.6 219 270 -51  
10.08 Davidson Ezinwa Lausanne 06 07 1994 9.99 1.2 261 271 -10  
10.08 Dennis Mitchell Lausanne 06 07 1994 9.99 1.2 262 272 -10  
10.08 Andre Cason Koblenz 11 09 1991 9.99 1.5 263 273 -10  
10.08 Vladislav Dologodi Kyiv 17 05 1996 10.02 0.9 281 274 7  
10.08 Jon Drummond Paris 14 09 2002 9.97 2 195 275 -80  
10.08 Linford Christie Victoria, B.C. 23 08 1994 9.98 1.8 220 276 -56  
10.08 Andrés Simón La Habana 01 08 1987 10.06 0.3 312 277 35  
10.08 Frank Fredericks Athína 17 06 1998 9.97 2 196 278 -82  
10.08 James Sanford Westwood, CA 11 05 1980 10.02 1 282 279 3  
10.08 Olapade Adeniken El Paso, TX 16 04 1994 9.95 1.9 128 280 -152  
10.08 Kim Collins Zürich 16 08 2002 9.98 1.6 221 281 -60  
10.08 Jon Drummond Rieti 28 08 1994 9.99 1.5 264 282 -18  
10.08 Michael Marsh Indianapolis, IN 12 06 1997 9.97 2 197 283 -86  
10.09 Leroy Burrell Sestriere 08 08 1990 9.96 1.2 158 284 -126  
10.09 Kostyantyn Rurak Kyiv 17 05 1996 10.03 0.9 290 285 5  
10.09 Mickey Grimes Zürich 15 08 2003 9.99 1.5 265 286 -21  
10.09 Kim Collins Paris 14 09 2002 9.98 2 222 287 -65  
10.09 Leonard Myles-Mills Boise 05 06 1999 9.98 1.6 223 288 -65  
10.09 Francis Obikwelu Braga 21 06 2000 9.98 2 224 289 -65  
10.10 Jon Drummond Oslo 22 07 1994 9.99 1.9 266 290 -24  
10.10 Darvis Patton Zürich 15 08 2003 10 1.5 270 291 -21  
10.10 Bernard Williams Oslo 13 07 2001 9.99 2 267 292 -25  
10.10 Nicolas Macrozonaris Ciudad de México 03 05 2003 10.03 0 291 293 -2  
10.10 Koji Ito Bangkok 13 12 1998 10 1.9 271 294 -23  
10.11 Christopher Williams Kingston, JAM 21 07 2000 10.05 1 305 295 10  
10.11 Marian Woronin Warszawa 09 06 1984 10 2 272 296 -24  
10.12 André Domingos Bogota 25 06 1999 10.06 0.9 313 297 16  
10.12 Michael Green Knoxville, TN 11 04 1997 10.02 1.7 283 298 -15  
10.12 Pietro Mennea Ciudad de México 04 09 1979 10.01 0.9 276 299 -23  
10.12 Bob Hayes Tokyo 15 10 1964 10.06 1.1 314 300 14  
10.13 Lennox Miller Ciudad de México 14 10 1968 10.04 0.3 300 301 -1  
10.13 Shingo Suetsugu Mito 05 05 2003 10.03 1.8 292 302 -10  
10.13 Leonard Scott Eugene, OR 31 05 2001 10.05 1.4 306 303 3  
10.13 Nobuharu Asahara Oslo 13 07 2001 10.02 2 284 304 -20  
10.13 Patrick Williams Modesto, CA 05 05 1990 10.06 1.3 315 305 10  
10.14 Kenny Brokenburr Indianapolis, IN 12 06 1997 10.04 1.6 301 306 -5  
10.14 Osmond Ezinwa Milano 07 09 1996 10.05 1.5 307 307 0  
10.14 Mark Whiterspoon San Jose, CA 27 06 1987 10.04 1.8 302 308 -6  
10.14 Robson Caetano da Silva Ciudad de México 22 07 1988 10 1.6 273 309 -36  
10.14 Bode Osagiobare El Paso, TX 16 04 1994 10.01 1.9 277 310 -33  
10.14 Jonathan Carter New Orleans, LA 19 06 1998 10.04 1.9 303 311 -8  
10.15 Harvey Glance Tampa, FL 30 03 1985 10.05 1.8 308 312 -4  
10.16 Terrrance Bowen Fresno, CA 01 04 1995 10.06 1.7 316 313 3  
10.16 Tony McCall Durham, NC 08 04 2000 10.06 1.8 317 314 3  
10.16 Ron Brown Zürich 24 08 1983 10.06 1.6 318 315 3  
10.16 Kaaron Conwright Flagstaff, AZ 08 07 2000 10.05 1 309 316 -7  
10.16 Stanley Floyd Provo, UT 05 06 1982 10.03 1.9 293 317 -24  
10.17 Frank Emmelman Berlin 22 09 1985 10.06 1.9 319 318 1  
10.17 Charles Greene Ciudad de México 13 10 1968 10.02 2 285 319 -34  
10.18 Rodney Lewis Knoxville, TN 15 06 1994 10.06 2 320 320 0  
10.19 Leandro Peńalver Caracas 24 08 1983 10.06 2 321 321 0  
10.21 Johan Rossouw Johannesburg 23 04 1988 10.06 2 322 322 0  

There is a clear bias in Table 2 towards tailwinds - 75% of runs have a tailwind, with the average wind measurement being 0.65m/s tailwind (standard deviation is 0.8 m/s, 50% of runs have above 0.5 m/s wind assist). There is a similar bias in the altitude - average is 314 m (standard deviation 417 m, 50% of runs are above 110m altitude). All the precision in the timing clocks is not matched by precision in other important determinants of performance.


Annual Top 100 m

Table 3 below gives the top 10 and top 20 performances for each of the last six years, including a count of how many times each athlete appears in the top 20 of that year. This count shows how dominant each individual was in a particular year. In many cases, the dominant performer benefits from the adjustment for performances in difficult climatic conditioins (his bad times weren't his off-days, but rather off-days for the weather or location).

In all, there are 21 instances (5 in 2003 alone), where the correction for Wind and Altitude lifts a performance into the top 10, and 25 where a performance is lifted into the top 20 (5 just in 2003).

The adjusted rankings also puts Tim Montgomery's world record into context. It was clearly the best performance of the year, but with a maximum legal tailwind of 2 m/s it neither matches his nor Maurice Greene's best from the previous year.

Trending Annual Average Top Performances

Former Canadian track coach Charlie Francis suggested it may be more relevant to base predictions of 100 m performances on averages of the top 10 and top 20 performances for each year since 91(Charlie Francis discussion forum topic "9.48 in 500 years");

Francis was Ben Johnson's coach at the time of his disqualification in the 1988 Seoul Olympics 100 m final, and was subsequently banned from coaching Canadian athletes .

1991 brought the arrival of Mondo Super X track, which might also have boosted performance (all-weather rubberised track with re-designed spikes that compress rather than dig into the track surface).

See Rocket Scientist An Interview with Charlies Francis by Chales Stuttgart, T-Mag, for some insights into CF, and his opinions on drugs and fast tracks.

Table 3 shows the top 20 performances each year from 1998 to 2003, corrected for wind and altitude. Graphs of trends in this and similar data for 1992 to 2003 are then presented:

Table 3 - Wind & Altitude Adjusted Yearly Top 10 & 20 100 m Performances

Year Adj Time Name Venue Date Raw Mark Wind Raw Rank Adj Rank Times in 20
2003 9.98 Dwain Chambers Birmingham 26 07 03 10.08 -1.6 64 1 1
  9.99 Justin Gatlin Stockholm 05 08 03 10.15 -2.4 160 2 3
  9.99 Deji Aliu Abuja 19 07 03 9.98 0 7 3 3
  10.00 Deji Aliu Abuja 12 10 03 9.95 0.6 3 4  
  10.01 Darrel Brown Paris Saint-Denis 24 08 03 10.01 0 14 5 1
  10.02 Uchenna Emedolu Abuja 12 10 03 9.97 0.6 6 6 1
  10.02 Maurice Greene Carson, CA 01 06 03 9.94 1.4 2 7 1
  10.02 Tim Montgomery Osaka 10 05 03 10.04 -0.3 25 8 1
  10.02 John Capel Roma 11 07 03 10.04 -0.3 28 9 2
  10.03 Eric Nkansah Córdoba, ESP 06 09 03 10.12 -1.5 117 10 1
  10.03 Patrick Johnson Mito 05 05 03 9.93 1.8 1 11 2
  10.03 Deji Aliu Tríkala 24 06 03 10.00 0.0 12 12  
  10.03 Patrick Johnson Osaka 10 05 03 10.05 -0.3 35 13  
  10.03 Kim Collins Eugene, OR 24 05 03 10.00 0.5 11 14 2
  10.04 Bernard Williams Roma 11 07 03 10.06 -0.3 44 15 2
  10.05 Bernard Williams Paris Saint-Denis 04 07 03 10.05 0.0 38 16  
  10.06 Kim Collins Paris Saint-Denis 24 08 03 10.02 0.6 16 17  
  10.06 Justin Gatlin Moskva 20 09 03 10.05 0.0 41 18  
  10.06 John Capel Zürich 15 08 03 9.97 1.3 4 19  
  10.06 Justin Gatlin Zürich 15 08 03 9.97 1.3 5 20  
2002 9.88 Tim Montgomery Paris 14 09 02 9.78 2.0 1 1 5
  9.92 Tim Montgomery Zürich 16 08 02 9.98 -1.3 17 2  
  9.93 Tim Montgomery Bruxelles 30 08 02 9.91 0.3 4 3  
  9.94 Maurice Greene Roma 12 07 02 9.89 0.9 3 4 4
  9.94 Coby Miller Zürich 16 08 02 10.00 -1.3 28 5 1
  9.96 Maurice Greene Athína 10 06 02 9.97 -0.2 15 6  
  9.96 Dwain Chambers München 07 08 02 9.96 -0.3 13 7 4
  9.98 Maurice Greene Monaco 19 07 02 9.97 0.1 14 8  
  9.98 Dwain Chambers Paris 14 09 02 9.87 2.0 2 9  
  9.99 Frank Fredericks Windhoek 13 04 02 9.94 -0.2 6 10 1
  9.99 Tim Montgomery Roma 12 07 02 9.94 0.9 7 11  
  9.99 Dwain Chambers Zürich 16 08 02 10.05 -1.3 43 12  
  10.00 Bernard Williams Monaco 19 07 02 9.99 0.1 23 13 1
  10.00 Kim Collins Manchester 27 07 02 9.98 0.2 18 14 2
  10.00 Kim Collins Zürich 16 08 02 10.06 -1.3 52 15  
  10.01 Dwain Chambers London 23 08 02 9.98 0.5 19 16  
  10.01 Maurice Greene Paris 05 07 02 9.99 0.4 24 17  
  10.01 Tim Montgomery Pretoria 12 04 02 9.94 0.6 8 18  
  10.02 Brian Lewis Cayenne 04 05 02 9.99 0.5 25 19 1
  10.03 Francis Obikwelu Bruxelles 30 08 02 10.01 0.3 30 20 1
2001 9.83 Maurice Greene Edmonton 05 08 01 9.82 -0.2 1 1 9
  9.86 Tim Montgomery Edmonton 05 08 01 9.85 -0.2 3 2 6
  9.89 Maurice Greene Athína 11 06 01 9.91 -0.3 9 3  
  9.90 Maurice Greene Edmonton 04 08 01 9.88 0.0 4 4  
  9.92 Maurice Greene Eugene, OR 21 06 01 9.90 0.3 6 5  
  9.93 Tim Montgomery Zürich 17 08 01 9.90 0.2 7 6  
  9.93 Maurice Greene London 22 07 01 9.98 -0.8 20 7  
  9.94 Maurice Greene Paris 06 07 01 9.96 -0.4 13 8  
  9.94 Tim Montgomery Edmonton 04 08 01 9.92 0.0 10 9  
  9.95 Tim Montgomery Oslo 13 07 01 9.84 2.0 2 10  
  9.95 Bernard Williams Edmonton 05 08 01 9.94 -0.2 11 11 4
  9.95 Ato Boldon Athína 11 06 01 9.97 -0.3 17 12 1
  9.96 Maurice Greene Edmonton 05 08 01 10.01 -1.2 28 13  
  9.96 Tim Montgomery Bruxelles 24 08 01 9.96 0.0 14 14  
  9.97 Bernard Williams Edmonton 04 08 01 9.95 0.0 12 15  
  9.98 Maurice Greene Osaka 12 05 01 9.96 -0.1 15 16  
  9.98 Maurice Greene Lausanne 04 07 01 9.90 1.1 8 17  
  9.98 Bernard Williams Edmonton 05 08 01 10.06 -1.7 44 18  
  9.98 Bernard Williams Eugene, OR 21 06 01 9.96 0.3 16 19  
  9.99 Tim Montgomery Edmonton 05 08 01 10.07 -1.7 52 20  
2000 9.85 Maurice Greene Berlin 01 09 00 9.86 -0.2 1 1 8
  9.85 Maurice Greene Sydney 23 09 00 9.87 -0.3 2 2  
  9.90 Maurice Greene Sacramento 15 07 00 10.01 -1.7 21 3  
  9.90 Maurice Greene Zürich 11 08 00 9.94 -1.0 5 4  
  9.91 Maurice Greene Osaka 13 05 00 9.91 -0.4 3 5  
  9.93 Obadele Thompson Zürich 11 08 00 9.97 -1.0 8 6 2
  9.95 Maurice Greene Sacramento 14 07 00 9.93 0.3 4 7  
  9.95 Jon Drummond Berlin 01 09 00 9.96 -0.2 7 8 1
  9.96 Donovan Bailey Luzern 27 06 00 9.98 -0.7 11 9 1
  9.96 Ato Boldon Zürich 11 08 00 10.00 -1.0 16 10 4
  9.97 Ato Boldon Sydney 23 09 00 9.99 -0.3 14 11  
  9.98 Brian Lewis Zürich 11 08 00 10.02 -1.0 28 12 1
  10.00 Tim Montgomery Berlin 01 09 00 10.01 -0.2 22 13 1
  10.00 Maurice Greene Monaco 18 08 00 10.01 -0.1 23 14  
  10.01 Coby Miller Durham, NC 02 06 00 9.98 0.4 12 15 1
  10.01 Maurice Greene Roma 30 06 00 9.97 0.7 9 16  
  10.02 Bernard Williams Durham, NC 02 06 00 9.99 0.4 15 17 1
  10.02 Ato Boldon Oslo 28 07 00 10.00 0.2 17 18  
  10.02 Obadele Thompson Sydney 23 09 00 10.04 -0.3 33 19  
  10.03 Ato Boldon Lausanne 05 07 00 9.95 1.0 6 20  
1999 9.80 Maurice Greene Athína 16 06 99 9.79 0.1 1 1 9
  9.81 Maurice Greene Sevilla 22 08 99 9.80 0.2 2 2  
  9.85 Bruny Surin Sevilla 22 08 99 9.84 0.2 3 3 5
  9.87 Ato Boldon Athína 16 06 99 9.86 0.1 5 4 3
  9.90 Maurice Greene Roma 07 07 99 9.85 0.8 4 5  
  9.90 Maurice Greene Sevilla 21 08 99 9.91 -0.2 8 6  
  9.90 Ato Boldon Lausanne 02 07 99 9.86 0.4 6 7  
  9.91 Maurice Greene Stockholm 30 07 99 9.87 0.6 7 8  
  9.92 Maurice Greene Sevilla 22 08 99 9.96 -0.7 14 9  
  9.94 Maurice Greene London 07 08 99 9.97 -0.6 17 10  
  9.94 Bruny Surin Sevilla 21 08 99 9.95 -0.2 13 11  
  9.94 Bruny Surin Sevilla 22 08 99 9.96 -0.3 15 12  
  9.97 Ato Boldon Athína 16 06 99 9.97 -0.1 18 13  
  9.97 Maurice Greene Zürich 11 08 99 9.99 -0.7 24 14  
  9.97 Maurice Greene Lausanne 02 07 99 9.93 0.4 11 15  
  9.98 Bruny Surin Athína 16 06 99 9.97 0.1 19 16  
  9.98 Dwain Chambers Sevilla 22 08 99 9.97 0.2 20 17 1
  9.99 Tim Harden Luzern 05 07 99 9.92 1.0 9 18 1
  9.99 Bruny Surin Nürnberg 13 06 99 9.92 1.1 10 19  
  10.00 Obadele Thompson Stockholm 30 07 99 9.96 0.6 16 20 1
1998 9.84 Ato Boldon Athína 17 06 98 9.86 -0.4 1 1 5
  9.88 Ato Boldon Kuala Lumpur 17 09 98 9.88 -0.1 4 2  
  9.90 Maurice Greene Uniondale, NY 21 07 98 9.96 -1.0 18 3 6
  9.91 Frank Fredericks Athína 17 06 98 9.93 -0.4 10 4 4
  9.92 Maurice Greene Stockholm 05 08 98 9.90 0.3 6 5  
  9.92 Obadele Thompson Johannesburg 11 09 98 9.87 -0.2 3 6 1
  9.92 Maurice Greene Bruxelles 28 08 98 9.94 -0.3 12 7  
  9.93 Maurice Greene Lausanne 25 08 98 9.92 -0.3 7 8  
  9.94 Ato Boldon Uniondale 21 07 98 10.00 -1.0 35 9  
  9.95 Seun Ogunkoya Zürich 12 08 98 9.96 -0.6 19 10 3
  9.95 Maurice Greene Berlin 01 09 98 9.94 0.1 13 11  
  9.95 Seun Ogunkoya Dakar 19 08 98 9.94 0.1 14 12  
  9.96 Frank Fredericks Kuala Lumpur 17 09 98 9.96 -0.1 20 13  
  9.96 Ato Boldon Monaco 08 08 98 9.92 0.7 8 14  
  9.96 Maurice Greene Sydney 28 02 98 9.99 -0.5 32 15  
  9.96 Ato Boldon Kuala Lumpur 17 09 98 9.96 0.0 21 16  
  9.97 Frank Fredericks Oslo 09 07 98 9.95 0.2 16 17  
  9.97 Seun Ogunkoya Johannesburg 11 09 98 9.92 -0.2 9 18  
  9.97 Frank Fredericks Roma 14 07 98 9.97 0.0 27 19  
  9.97 Bruny Surin Montréal 01 08 98 9.89 1.5 5 20 1

100m Sprint Prediction considers trends in world record times over the period 1912 - 2002, and suggests a limit is being reached in the performance improvements possible in the 100 m sprint. Over that time period, technology and training methods have changed considerably. Would focussing on a shorter time-frame tell anything different ?

Even looking at just 10 years still includes some uncontrollable variation - particularly in relation to the impact of tighter drug testing. Nevertheless, the trend of the top 10 and top 20 averages is revealing:

top 10 in 100m

Figure 2 - Annual Average of Top Performances


Caveat: The data for this graph is from a post by Optimist on the Charlie Francis discussion forum, and the source for it is not credited there. Checking against the IAAF online statistics (as reported above) for the last 5 years does not reveal any errors

Taking optimists data at face value, there is a suggestion of almost a bottoming-out of the averages of the best performances around 1996 to 1998. A fit of three models is presented to test what is happening: a straight line, a logistic curve, and a quadratic curve.

Statistically, the straight line fit is not particularly good (correlation coefficient of 0.245) for the Average of the Top 10 performances. The Mean Square Error is approximately 0.020 seconds - or 28% of the difference between the maximum and minimum values. Similarly poor correlation and MSE is also evident in the Top 20 averages. The straight line reaches an average time of zero seconds in 1850 years - and although that's a long time away, such a prediction is clearly flawed.

A logistic equation is a marginally better fit (correlation coefficient of 0.343), and suggests the Top 10 average is trending down to a limit of 9.88 seconds. "Marginally" means there is a 42% chance that the straight line is correct (odds are only slightly towards the logistic equation fit).

The notable one-sided errors since 1998 suggests a u-shaped trend may describe the situation better. Statistical observations are one thing, but it's nice to support them with some further explanation of the underlying process.

What happened in 1998 that could explain the up-turn ? Perhaps the sentinel event was the revelation of widespread EPO doping by cyclists in the 1998 Tour-De-France, after customs officials discovered large quantities in support team luggage. After the huge embarassment from adverse publicity over this, a crackdown on EPO and other drug abuse was kicked off - culminating in the formation of the World Anti-Doping Agency. Initiatives such as out-of-competition testing of athletes were gradually introduced. Even though EPO is thought to be beneficial mostly in endurance events (rather than short-duration sprinting), the crackdown included steroids and many other agents used to avoid detection of banned substances. It's not hard to see there might be a causal relationship between restrictions on drug use and poorer sprint performances.

Changes to the break-rule and further extensions of out-of-competition drug-testing could exacerbate such an upward trend in the future. To test if a u-shape trend is occurring, a quadratic fit was also tried - and is marginally better than the logistic (marginally: there is a 39% chance the logistic is correct compared to quadratic).

The quadratic fit, however, produces unpleasing results if projected back or forward in time (and a cubic polynomial fit is even more unrealistic outside the 1991-2002 interval, even though it has the best statistical fit):

Top10_100mf.gif

Figure 3 - Projecting Annual Average Models


If data prior to 1990 were available, a fit that might allow better discrimination between the straight line, logistic and quadratic would be possible.

In the absence of more data, it is difficult to conclude from the Top 10 or Top 20 averages that there is or is not a limit to the improvement in 100 m sprinting. There is slightly more than a 50/50 chance that there is a limit (either by interpreting the logistic or quadratic as the better fit).

What can be said confidently is that the trend in the averages for the last 10 years does not contradict the suggestion of a limit shown in the 80 year+ time-frame logistic fit.

Some of the scatter in Figure 2 above can be explained by Wind and Altitude effects on performance. Using IAAF statistics for the last 5 complete years, Figure 4 shows the effect of correcting for wind and altitude to sea-level still wind conditions. The correction used is Jonas Mereika's Back-of-The-Envelope formula.

This makes it clearer still that there is an upward trend in average times evident from the last 6 years. If you focus on just the last 6 year averages (see Figure 3 below), you might readily believe that 100 m sprint winning times will continue to increase in the near future.

It wouldn't be smart to bet on fast times for the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Figure 4 - Still Wind Sea-Level Average 10 or 20 Best Performances

100mTop1020in04.png



First published 24th May 2003 , Last Revised
Last revision: vdeck modification, links to JRM articles updated
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