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Monday, July 21, 2008

Olympic trials

“I was listening to a news story about the Olympic track trials, and they said someone hadn’t broken a world record because of a tail wind. How do they determine when a tail wind affects a runner and do they take into consideration head winds as well?” Questions such as this one help to make our days interesting at the Newton Falls Public Library.

Our first stop is always our library catalog. Winning Track and Field for Girls by Ed Housewright is filled with historical information about the sports and athletes, technical information including drills, workouts, and records through the early part of this decade. However, the answer to our question was not to be found. Spalding Book of Rules by Bingo Broido and The Book of Rules: a visual guide to laws of every commonly played sport and game were the next sources we examined. The Book of Rules addressed the first part of our patron’s question. “In races of 200 m or less, the wind speed should be recorded wherever possible. . .the wind should be measured for a 13-second period in hurdle events and for 10 seconds in others. . .An aiding wind of more than 2 m per second nullifies a record time” (p.180).

As neither book gave any information about head winds, we next took a look at USA Track & Field website. According to the site, many athletes have been breaking world records at the Olympic trials. On June 29, 2008 at the trials in Eugene, Oregon, with 4.1 meters per second wind behind him, Tyson Gay ran the fastest 100 m ever run, 9.68. Unfortunately, because of the aforementioned rule this will not be counted as a world record. “Article V – Records” of the 2008 USATF Competition Rules (p.155) includes the wind reading requirements for the 200 Meter Hurdles (Youth Athletics), the Long Jump, Triple Jump, and the Combined Events. It seems that while a strong tail wind is taken into consideration in these events, head winds are not. Presumably because if you break a record going into a strong head wind, you have truly earned the distinction.

Before this year’s summer Olympics begin, learn more with A Picture History of the Olympics by James Coote and 100 Greatest Moments in Olympic History by Bob Greenspan. Get in a winner’s mindset by participating in the last few weeks of Game On @ the Newton Falls Public Library. There are still prizes, including fantastic grand prizes of gift certificates, tickets and more, to be won by readers of all ages.

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