We know Bob Dylan wasn’t referring to the Olympics when he sang, The Times They are A-Changin’. But over the last 100 years, when it comes to breaking Olympic records those words have never been truer. Fact: times that won gold medals at the 1912 Games in Stockholm, Sweden wouldn't even qualify for Junior Olympics today, in most cases. And it’s not just time-improvements—previous distance measurements in jumping, strength, and throwing events wouldn’t stand a chance today either. No exaggeration.
In sports measured by hundredths of a second, or where fractions of an inch separate winners from losers, minute improvements over a few decades are considered a giant leap forward. But what about five seconds faster, or even 18 seconds? Athletes reach speeds, throw objects, and jump distances today in records that were thought unattainable 100 years ago.
So, to check out our timed and measured progress, Men's Fitness turned back the clock one hundred years. We stacked up event-winning times and distances from 1912 against the winning times at Sydney in 2008. And admittedly, the gap of almost a century shocked us. No doubt there’ll be new records in London this year, but if athletics, gear, science, and technology continue progressing at the same rate of change, we wonder: what will we be able to achieve in 2112?