The Effect of Wind on 100-m Sprint Times

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Nicholas P. Linthorne
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The effect of wind on the race times of international standard 100-m sprinters was determined using statistical information from official competitions. A time adjustment curve derived from mathematical models was fitted to performances by the finalists at the U.S. Olympic Trials and TAC Championships over the last 10 years, and to multiple performances by individual athletes at recent Olympic Games and World Championships. Consistent results were obtained from the two studies. The rate of improvement in. race time gradually decreased with increasing wind velocity, and so the disadvantage of a head wind was greater than the benefit of a tail wind of the same magnitude. The advantage of a 2-m/s following wind was 0.10 ± 0.01 s for the male sprinters and 0.12 ± 0.02 s for the female sprinters. These results indicated that the altitude of Mexico City (2,250 m) provides an advantage of about 0.07 s. Time adjustment versus wind velocity curves are presented that allow comparison of the merit of 100-m sprint times achieved under diverse wind conditions. The curves supersede those derived by previous investigators.

Nicholas P. Linthorne is with the Department of Physics, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Western Australia, 6009, Australia.

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