Armchair research into world records

Saturday, November 7th, 2009 @ %I:%M %p | Life

speedrecords.jpgI was going to rant, in Dutch, about a different topic but a brief twitter exchange with @BartVeldkamp let to this topic instead: comparing men’s and women’s world records.

Bart tweeted that the gold and silver medal winners from the 1998 winter olympics would have finished 4th and 6th in the 1000m women’s race and 22nd & 24th in the 1000m men’s race today at the World Cup Speed Skating in Berlin. Implying that the men’s sport made much more progress in the eleven years than the women’s.

So let’s compare the world records in track&field, speed skating and swimming. And then draw some quick conclusions.

Women
Sport
Distance
Time
Year
Average Age
Track&Field
100m 10.49 1988
200m 21.34 1988
400m 47.6 1985
800m 1.53.28 1983
1500m 3.50.46 1993
3000m 8.06.11 1993
5000m 14.11.15 2008
10000m 29.31.78 1993
Marathon 2.15.25 2003
17.33
Speed skating
500m 37.02 2007
1000m 1.13.11 2006
1500m 1.51.79 2005
3000m 3.53.34 2006
5000m 6.45.61 2007
10000m 13.48.33 2007
3.67
Swimming
50m 23.73 2009
100m 52.07 2009
200m 1.52.98 2009
400m 3.59.15 2009
1
Overall average 7.33
Men
Sport
Distance
Time
Year
Track&Field
100m 9.69 2009
200m 19.30 2009
400m 43.18 1999
800m 1.41.11 1997
1500m 3.26.00 1999
3000m 7.20.67 1996
5000m 12.37.35 2004
10000m 26.17.53 2005
Marathon 2.03.59 2008
7.11
Speed skating
500m 34.03 2007
1000m 1.06.42 2009
1500m 1.41.80 2009
3000m 3.37.28 2005
5000m 6.03.32 2007
10000m 12.41.69 2007
2.67
Swimming
50m 20.94 2009
100m 46.91 2009
200m 1.42.00 2009
400m 3.40.07 2009
1
Overall average 3.59

Across the three disciplines women world records are a little over 7 years old while men’s records are a bit more than 3 1/2 years old.

In athletics it seems that the women’s field still suffers from the 70-ies and 80-ies doping era. It’s not just the infamous East Germany of old: the 100 and 200 meters records are Griffith-Joyner’s. Throwing out these four 1980-ies records the track&field average improves to 12 years and the women’s overall average to 5 1/2 years.

In speed skating it seems that men’s records have a lifespan a year shorter than women’s. In swimming all the records – male and female – were set this year. So I don’t know what conclusion that leads to. However, Bart compared with the 1998 Olympics in Nagano so let us indeed compare the winning times to today’s world records:

Women
Distance
World record
Nagano
Improvement
500m 37.02 38.30 3.34%
1000m 1.13.11 1.16.51 9.01%
1500m 1.51.79 1.57.58 5.18%
3000m 3.53.34 4.07.29 5.98%
5000m 6.45.61 6.59.61 3.45%
Average 5.39%
Men
Distance
World record
Nagano
Improvement
500m 34.03 35.68 4.85%
1000m 1.06.42 1.10.64 6.35%
1500m 1.41.80 1.47.87 5.96%
5000m 6.03.32 6.22.20 5.20%
10000m 12.41.69 13.15.33 4.42%
Average 5.36%

Well then! There you have it!

The women improved their times by 5.39% on average in the 11 year span and the men by 5.36%… or virtually the same margins… or well, so, the conclusion is …. everybody’s doing just fine.

 

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