Izu, Japan (AP) — Everybody expected records to fall when the track cycling program began at the Tokyo Olympics, but nobody expected the German women’s pursuit squad to shatter the mark held by the two-time and defending gold medalists from Britain. Or the Chinese to lower their team sprint record. Or Denmark taking down the Olympic record in men’s team pursuit.
All on the first day of competition.
“We knew there would be world records broken this week. That’s the first thing,” explained Gary Sutton, the endurance coach for the world champion U.S. women’s pursuit team. “The track is quick.”
Indeed, just as the track surface at Olympic Stadium in Tokyo is shaping up to be a fast surface, so is the Siberian pine wood of the Izu Velodrome. But this not some new track built specially for the Olympics. It’s a decade-old velodrome in the wayward forested hills near Mt. Fuji. Nor is it located at high altitude, like the historically fast velodrome in Aguascalientes, Mexico, where the thin air has produced a multitude of world records over the years.
So why are records falling in Japan in seemingly every race? Well, it’s a combination of factors — a perfect storm, if you will — that has allowed riders regardless of discipline to set their sights on some quick times.
THE PHYSIOLOGICAL ASPECT
Simply put, training methods continue to evolve and improve with each Olympic cycle, making athletes themselves even better. Yes, that includes more effective and productive workout plans, but it also means […]