When will records stop being broken?
Wed, 08 Aug 2012 10:56p.m.
By Jenny Suo
Every four years, athletes go to great lengths to achieve the Olympic motto of "faster, higher and stronger".
But can we expect them to keep getting better, forever?
A scientist says the days of record breaking could be numbered.
For decades, we've counted on our Olympic heroes to keep pushing the boundaries of athletic achievement, but is there a limit to human performance?
So far 69 records have been broken in London, compared to175 records in Beijing.
French scientists have studied every Olympic record since the modern games began in 1896 and concluded that athletes have reached 99 percent of what's possible within the limits of natural human physiology.
They say results in two thirds of track and field events have stopped improving since the early 90s and the limits of more and more events are being reached
Professor Patria Hume of the New Zealand Sport Performance Research Institute says there has been a decline.
“Every year, roughly, there is one event that is stopping its progression, because athletes are reaching their limits. For example in decathlon, or in high jump - it has already been the case for many years.”
Ms Hume says she has noticed a shift in focus for athletes, from the traditional "blood, sweat and tears" to using better technology in training, sports gear, and facilities to improve performance.
“We’ve got GPS units on the back of athletes so we’re tracking what they’re doing in terms of their movement patterns, we're instrumenting kayaks and looking at the forces they're producing.”
There's no doubt technology has made a huge contribution to record setting in the Beijing Olympics. Polyurethane swimsuits helped swimmers break 23 records before they were banned.
Ms Hume says there will always be new technology to improve performance, but with that, comes debate over what should or shouldn't be used.
So it appears that in order for athletes to keep pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, they may also need to push the boundaries of what's ethical.
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