We Humans Are A Lot Faster And Stronger Than We Used To Be

At the Beijing Olympics in 2008, 25 new world records were set in the swimming competitions out of just 34 events.
Posted at 12:27 PM, Jul 19, 2016

If four-time Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens raced Usain Bolt, he'd lose by more than 6 meters. Similarly, if Michael Phelps got in the water for a 200-meter freestyle swim with Aussie Olympic gold medalist Mike Wenden — Wenden would get stomped.

That's because in general we are a lot faster and stronger than we used to be.

Take the discus for example: The first Olympic winner of the discus was the USA's Robert Garrett. Fast forward six decades, and another American, Al Oerter, was throwing nearly double the distance of Garrett. While the legendary thrower Oerter won gold four times in the discus (the most in history), his record for distance only stood for two Olympic Games. Fast forward to 2004, and the current Olympic record holder threw nearly 70 meters.

In swimming, records fall even more often. At the Beijing Olympics in 2008, 25 new world records were set in the swimming competitions out of just 34 events. Alain Bernard, who won gold in the 100-meter freestyle in '08, would have to wait 10 seconds for the 1952 gold medalist Clarke Scholes to catch up.

But there are exceptions — most notably 1968 Olympic long-jump champion Bob Beamon. Beamon jumped 8.9 meters at the 1968 Olympic games in Mexico City. Forty-eight years later, Beamon's Olympic record still stands today. But Mike Powell holds the world record for his 8.95-meter jump in 1991.

And while some Olympic records can stand the test of time, isn't it more exciting to watch them fall?

This video includes images from Getty Images. Music is courtesy of APM Music.