The purpose of this study was to compare some biomechanical variables of decathletes and world class sprinters while running the 100 metre race. Sixteen Swiss national decathletes and three world class American sprinters were filmed by a 16 mm Locam (100 fps) camera at the 70 m mark of the race. The co-ordinates for a 26-point stick figure were digitised and then submitted to analysis by a computer programme which produced quantitative data for 12 biomechanical variables. The data indicated that world-class sprinters differed from decathletes in running the 100 m dash by having (1) an optimal combination of a larger stride length and higher stride frequency (2) a smaller thigh angle at contact which shortens the contact time (3) a larger stride landing angle (4) a greater average acceleration of the thigh angle was (5) a larger trunk angle which contributes to a larger trunk/thigh angle. Although other factors such as culture, training, physique and racial differences may influence differences in performance between American world-class sprinters and Swiss decathletes, these data do indicate that biomechanical variables may contribute to differences in 100 m dash performance.
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