Why does Tokyo's sultry heat help sprinters go faster?

Tokyo Olympics

“These conditions improve neuromuscular connections and reduce the density of air, making it easier to pass through”, says physiologist Pedro L. Valenzuela explains.

Thompson-Hera, Fraser-Price and Jackson in the final of the 100.Reuters

“When it’s hot, I can focus on my running, I only think about running. When it’s cold, my brain has to work harder, to confirm that I ready, to calm down, to lose the fear of hurting myself,” confesses American runner Trayvon Bromel And opens the paradox of these sports in athletics. The sultry heat in Tokyo is a punishment for persistent, sticky, long-distance runners who suffer, who sweat, who don’t know what to do to cool down, but it’s a gift to sprinters.

As demonstrated with Jamaica’s record in the women’s 100m final this Saturday Elaine Thompson-Herahoe And in a men’s series of the same distance, with four men in less than 10 seconds, these games are going to be very long. Maybe even this Sunday in the final (9:50 pm) one can even reach the minimum of the world record Usain Bolt (9.58 sec). One explanation is in the feet, as in marathons, in those new models of shoes with carbon fiber plates that allow runners to take off after each step. But there is another explanation, in a more natural, more romantic, environment.

“Heat and humidity provide two advantages to sprinters and, to a lesser extent, jumpers and even throwers. First, a physical benefit. All your neuromuscular connections work better when you warm up And there is a risk of injury. This is why swimmers, for example, wear a tracksuit and even a sweatshirt as long as they jump in the pool. And secondly, a biomechanical advantage. The density of the air in Tokyo is reduced, that is, it provides less aerodynamic resistance. It sounds difficult to understand, but it is very simple: the air particles are separated and the body passes through them better. In slow mode it Not noticeable, but the faster you go, the more it shows, it’s exponential. And if you reach 35 or 36 or 37 km/h as sprinters, the effect is substantial”, explains the physiologist. Huh Pedro L. valenzuelaHealth Sciences researchers at the University of Alcalá de Henares (UAH).

up to 1% profit

According to the latest studies, the gain from temperature and humidity can reach 1% and it is, in speed, degradable. In the case of the Thompson-Hera brand this Saturday, 1% would be 16 hundredths. That — and many other things — explains why most sprinters come from hot and humid places like Jamaica and the southern United States (Florida, Texas, California). That—and the height, tops—explain the records that were held at the 1968 Mexico Games, when the 100m, 200m and long jump records were broken in the men’s and women’s categories.

Osaka already had excellent records at the 2007 World Cup and if it didn’t happen recently, for example, at the 2019 Doha World Cup it was because at Khalifa Stadium they put air conditioning on everything and changed the conditions. “Then there are many myths about meteorology. There is one that suggests that during the days of lightning storms, which are also very common in Japan, people run fast, but this has no scientific basis. Lightning and good lightning times, but they have only been, coincidentally, “concludes Valenzuela, who hopes, for example, that someone will land in the men’s final this Sunday in the 100-meter final of 9.80 seconds, Something that only two men have achieved in recent years: Christian Coleman and bromel.

The first is not due to suspension and the second is the great favourite, although he left many, many doubts in the series this Saturday. He passed through time and gave his compatriots predictions of victory Fred Carey You Marvin Bracey or canadian Andre de Grasse. With so much heat and so much humidity, who knows when the timer might go off. The atmosphere – like sneakers, yes, yes – is on your side.