(It's)Just how fast was Usain Bolt's Gold Medal sprint. Let's put him on a slightly bigger stage, and see him race against every Olympic medalist since 1896. This imaginary race, assembled using runners' average speeds, reveals just how much faster sprinters have become.
A few lanes over, we see another Usain Bolt, who dominated the field in Beijing in 2008. Almost ten feet back, Carl Lewis, Gold Medalist in Seoul in 1988, he won in 1984 too, while there're just a handful of sprinters on this track twice.
幾條跑道之外，我們看到另一位稱霸2008年北京奧運田徑場的Usain Bolt。幾乎在十英呎(約三公尺)之後是，Carl Lewis，1988年首爾奧運的金牌得主，他在1984年的奧運也贏得冠軍，而只有少數幾位短跑選手出現在這跑道上兩次。
As we go further back in time, we pass more of the fastest sprinters in history: Jim Hines, the first man to break ten seconds in the Olympics, Jesse Owens, who won four Golds in Berlin in 1936, Archie Hahn, Milwaukee Meteor, who won three events in 1904, and finally, near the end of this track, we have Tom Burke, who won Athens' in 1896. This time, twelve seconds, puts him more than sixty feet behind today's winner.
當我們再往前看，我們經過更多歷史上最快的短跑選手：Jim Hines，奧運中第一位破十秒的人，Jesse Owens，在1936年柏林奧運贏得四面金牌，Archie Hahn，「密爾瓦基流星」1904年贏了三個項目，然後最後，接近這條賽道的末端，我們有Tom Burke，他贏得1896年雅典奧運。這次，十二秒，使他落後於現今的贏家六十英呎(約二十公尺)以上的距離。
So what can we take away from this picture? For one, a lot of these sprinters are from the US. Although Americans have had rivalry with British sprinters and more recently Caribbean athletes, nearly half of these runners are Americans. But we can also see the glory is fleeting. Repeat performances are rare. There's been a new winner on the podium in all but three Olympics.
But to get a little bit more perspective, let's see how some of the America's best young sprinters would fit into this group. Here're the fastest kids at the hundred-metre dash in different ages, as recorded by the Amateur Athletic Association. Obviously, they are way behind today's athletes. But they are not as far behind as you might expect.
America's fastest eight-year-old did the hundred-metre dash in thirteen and half seconds, which would've put him less than a second off the third place in 1896, not bad for grade school. And the record for fifteen to sixteen-year-olds is a 10.27, good enough for a bronze as recently as 1980.
Still, it's not like those Olympians were slow. It's been more than a century of improvements in nutrition, fitness, footwear and track surfaces: the difference between today's athletes and the fastest human there in the nineteenth century: just about three seconds.