Two meters per second tailwind and a racetrack placed on an altitude of 999 meters could be enough for Usain Bolt to break his own world record of 9.48 seconds in 100 meter sprint.
According to the New Zealand researchers, this record will of course have to wait because London lies just 24 metres above sea level.
AdvertisementScientists are sure though that environment conditions affect sports performance even to a great extent.
On the 16 August 2008 the fastest man in the world, the Jamaican Usain Bolt, took a first world record in the Olympic Games in Beijing, China after running the 100 metres in 9.69 seconds.
One year later during the world championships in Berlin, Germany he broke his own record with 9.58 seconds.
Independently of the athlete's talent and training, there are various factors that could influence Usain's records - altitude below or above 1000 metres above sea level, the venue, whether the race takes place indoors or outdoors; the type of competition (world, Olympic or other): or whether an electronic timer or stopwatch is used, etc. In his case, the difference between the two races was the wind.
On the day that Bolt made his first record in the Olympic Games there was no wind whereas in the world championships, there was a tailwind with a speed of 0.9 metres per second.
"Was the new record helped along by the wind?" Steve Hollings, lead author of the study, said.
In their search for the answer, the team employed an empirical approach in order to estimate the effects of wind speed, altitude and other environmental factors in 44,000 results from 619 male athletes.
The study allowed for the identification of additional environmental and other factors such the competition level, the time-keeping method and if the athletes competes inside or outside a venue.
According to performance calculations in Berlin, the Jamaican would have to have run 100 metres in 9.62 seconds without wind.
"The wind therefore improved the record by 0.04 seconds," Hollings said.
But, the scientists go even further and suggest that Bolt could beat his own record again with 9.48 seconds as long as the speed of the tailwind is 2 metres per second and the race takes place at an altitude of 999 metres.
For now though, the London Olympic Games do not meet all of these requirements.
"Measuring wind speed during the 100 metres, 200 metres and the 110 metres hurdle has been one of the most controversial topics in sports since its introduction in 1936 (and in 1950 for the 200 metres)," Hollings said.
The study has been published in the European Journal of Sport Science.
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