World Records – Why do Athletes Keep Breaking Them?


Over 30 world records were broken during the London 2012 Summer Olympics.  They fell in swimming, cycling, running, weightlifting and a number of other sports.  But how do athletes continue to get better, jump longer, run or swim faster. Although scientists say that athletes have reached their limits records continue to fall. In almost every sport athletes have become better since the Olympic movement began.
One reason is that more and more people than ever before have access to sports and exercise. They start at an earlier age and can compete longer in their sport. In schools more and more natural talents can be discovered.


Another reason is that athletes can train harder and, as professionals, concentrate wholly on their sport instead of rushing to a training session after their day job. As medicine improves, athletes can stay in competition for a longer time and overcome injuries faster. Many top athletes achieve their best results later on in their careers. Technology has also helped improve scores. Through video analysis, for example, coaches can concentrate on fine-tuning an athlete’s technique. Material and equipment is constantly getting better.

One of the most important factors, however, is the human mind. It lies in our nature to be better and faster than someone else. The will to break a barrier can release immense power in your body.

So, where are the limits? One of the most difficult questions to answer is how fast a human being can run.  Some decades ago, nobody thought a person could ever run under 10 seconds in the 100 meter dash. But the record was broken at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. At the moment Usain Bolt is the fastest man on Earth at 9.58 seconds. Scientists say that 9.48 may be the absolute limit for running such a distance, but, who knows, maybe some runner will one day run under 9 seconds.



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  • access = to be able to do something
  • achieve = reach
  • although = while
  • barrier = wall, limit
  • coach = someone who trains a person in sports
  • compete = fight, try to be better, win
  • dash = sprint
  • decade = ten years
  • discover = to find out for the first time
  • equipment = the object you need for your sport
  • fine-tune = to make small changes in order to get better
  • however = but
  • human being = person
  • immense = great
  • injury = when you are hurt
  • limit = the greatest number possible
  • mind =  what goes on in your brain; feelings, the ability to think
  • movement = here: the Olympic Games
  • overcome = defeat, be better
  • professional = someone  who earns money by doing a sport
  • record = the fastest time, longest distance etc.. which anyone has ever achieved anywhere in the world
  • release = set free
  • rush = hurry
  • scientist = person who is trained in science
  • score = result
  • technique = way of doing something
  • weightlifting = the sport of lifting objects that have an exact number of pounds or kilograms
  • wholly = completely