[Paleopsych] Scotsman: Athletes 'have reached end of the record road'

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Wed Nov 16 22:40:29 UTC 2005

Scotsman: Athletes 'have reached end of the record road'

THE era of record-breaking sporting performances is coming to
an end, scientists predicted yesterday.

The women's 1,500 metres world record is one barrier that
cannot be smashed unless an athlete uses drugs, said
scientists who conducted the study.

However, the findings were criticised by sporting organisations
and by Frank Dick, one of the UK's most successful coaches,
who is credited with being the driving force behind Daley
Thompson's Olympic gold medal wins.

In a report Are There Limits to Running World Records?
published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sport and
Exercise, Professor Alan Nevill, of the University of
Wolverhampton, who carried out the study with Professor Greg
Whyte of the English Institute of Sport, said: "We have identified
that there could be a limit to performance and that world records
will not continue to rise.

"Many of the established men's and women's middle and
long-distance running records are already nearing their limits.
The results, of course, assume that athletes in the future do not
benefit from scientific engineering or drug use. However, I
cannot see the women's 1,500m record ever being broken,
unless human beings have fundamental changes to their
genetic structure."

However, Marty Aitken, director of performance at the Scottish
Institute of Sport, said earlier predictions about limits had proved
inaccurate: "We were always told it was a fact that no-one would
run the four-minute mile and it happened."

Chris Broadbent, of Scottish Athletics, said: "Records are very
rarely broken and when they are, it is by small margins - and
that's the way it should be. Excellent training and coaching is
what counts."

Liz McColgan, who won a silver medal in the 10,000m at the
1988 Seoul Olympics, said: "Prof Nevill is right in some ways.
We are nearing optimum, but I think records will still be broken
but not by as much as we are seeing at present. With better
training techniques, better nutrition and healthier and stronger
athletes, you will still get improvement. But then you will always
have the cheats."

Mr Dick said: "Physically, Daley Thomson didn't stand a chance
against the German Jurgen Hingsen, but by applying himself
physically and intellectually he beat him into the ground. Records
are broken by integrity and strength of spirit, not by scientific

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