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What is happening to Olympic Gold Medal performances?

What is happening to Olympic Gold Medal performances?

Sands, W.A., Wurtz, B.R., Stone, M.H., Brown, M.R, McNeal, J.R and Jemni, M. (2007) What is happening to Olympic Gold Medal performances? In: 3rd Annual Conference of the UKSCA (UK Strength and Conditioning Association), 18-20 May 2007, Largs, Scotland. (Unpublished)

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It is generally assumed that Olympic gold medal performances continue to improve. The Summer Olympic Games and competitive events within the Games have been held fairly consistently for many years with some of the events beginning in 1896. Historical trend analyses of Olympic gold medal performances can show how human performance capabilities have changed over time. This represents a preliminary, exploratory, hypothesis generating study (2;3) designed to assess historical trends of Track and Field gold medal performances at the Olympic Games. METHODS Historical Olympic gold medal performances were obtained from the 2007 Sports Illustrated Almanac (1). The performance scores or values were entered into a spreadsheet (Excel, Microsoft, Redmond, WA, USA) whereupon they were paired with the respective years of performance. Linear regression calculations were performed on the complete historical dataset. Two times the standard errors of estimate were also calculated and plotted above and below the least squares linear fit providing an estimate of 95% confidence boundaries. Predictive values for future scores were calculated and plotted. A second linear regression was calculated and plotted from the historical sequence from 1980 to 2004. The slopes of the two regression lines were then compared. Among males, data were divided among sprint, endurance, running/jumping field events, and throwing field events. There were insufficient data available for the women due to the relatively recent addition of many women’s track and field events. Women’s data were analyzed based on running events and field events. Analysis of the data began with regression analyses. Matched pairs t-tests were calculated on the derived slope coefficients to determine if there was a difference in the rate of improvement or decline of the two linear regression slopes - early and recent. Due to the exploratory nature of this investigation, was set at 0.10 (3). RESULTS The t-test calculations on derived regression slopes are shown in Table 1. The Figures below show some of the most dramatic recent changes in track and field performance. Table 1. Comparisons of Early and Recent Slopes of Olympic Gold Medal Performances 95% Confidence Intervals Variable Pairs Mean SD Lower Upper t df Sig Men Long-Term Sprint – -0.62 0.06 -0.112 -0.012 -2.9 7 0.022 Recent Sprint Long Term Field Run – 0.75 0.57 -0.155 1.657 2.6 3 0.078 Recent Field Run Long-Term Endurance – -7.76 11.65 -18.530 3.020 -1.8 6 0.129 Recent Endurance Long-Term Field Throw – 0.12 0.10 -0.038 0.265 2.4 3 0.093 Recent Field Throw Women Long-Term Run – -0.97 0.81 -0.196 0.004 -2.7 4 0.055 Recent Run Long-Term Field Event – 0.74 0.87 -0.349 1.820 1.9 4 0.133 Recent Field Event DISCUSSION Historical track and field data from the event gold medalists in men’s and women’s track and field shows expected long-term trends of modest improvement in performances over time until more recent gold medal performances occurred. When the long-term trends are compared to recent trends from 1980 to 2004 the trends are often different. Most troubling is that most of the trends indicate a decline in the rate of improvement or an outright decline that does not appear trivial. The change in trends may be indicative of a variety of intruding variables from reduced drug use to a ceiling effect on human performance. We have found that a large percentage of the events in track and field and other sports display these same trends while some sports do not. Future research should endeavor to determine and investigate potential causes of these trends and why some sports do not show them. Interestingly, winter sports do not appear to follow the trends shown in a large percentage of summer sports. References 1. Editors of Sports Illustrated. Sports Illustrated Almanac 2007. New York, NY, Time, Inc. 2006. 2. Huberty, C. J. and Morris, J. D. Multivariate analysis versus multiple univariate analyses. Psychological Bulletin 105(2), 302-308. 89. 3. Rowland, T. W. Would you believe p<.10? Pediatric Exercise Science 2, 189-190. 90.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: training, coaching, gymnastics
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Science
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Last Modified: 24 Nov 2016 11:51

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