Usain Bolt: Today's Sprinters Have Unfair Advantage

World record holder blasts new shoe technology at Olympics
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 20, 2021 10:25 AM CDT
Usain Bolt: Today's Sprinters Have Unfair Advantage
Usain Bolt from Jamaica celebrates winning the gold medal in the men's 200-meter final at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 18, 2016.   (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

Usain Bolt says runners hoping to best his world record sprints at the Tokyo Olympics will have an unfair advantage: new-generation shoes. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, gold medal-winning marathon runners wore carbon-plated, thick-soled shoes that were ultimately found to be 4% more efficient than other shoes, reports Outside. Sprinters, including the fastest woman alive, Jamaican two-time Olympic gold medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, are now using similar "super spikes" shoes made of resilient foam and a stiff plate, with spikes to grip the track surface, and setting records in the process. Though the exact advantages aren't clear, companies that don't yet offer the shoes often let their own athletes run in rival shoes with the technology, suggesting a real impact. And that doesn't sit well with Bolt. "It's weird and unfair," the eight-time Olympic champion tells Reuters.

The 34-year-old says shoe companies were previously told they couldn't alter their designs. "So to know that now they are actually doing it, it’s laughable," adds the Puma-sponsored 100-meter and 200-meter world record holder. "I couldn’t believe that this is what we have gone to … that we are really adjusting the spikes to a level where it’s now giving athletes an advantage to run even faster." World Athletics says current regulations are meant "to preserve the integrity of elite competition and to limit technological development to the current level." Meanwhile, four-time 100-meter world champion Fraser-Pryce denies her shoes are responsible for her fast pace, while American Trayvon Bromell, fastest in the world in the 100-meter this year with a time of 9.77 seconds (Bolt's record is 9.58 seconds) says it's not clear that the shoes have much of an impact. (More Usain Bolt stories.)

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