In 2009 Carmelita Jeter ran the 100-meter dash in just 10.67 seconds, making her the fastest woman alive and the second fastest woman in recorded history after the late Florence-Griffith Joyner. She won the women’s 100-meter title at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials. Having failed during the semi-finals at the 2008 trials for Beijing, the runners victory was the culmination of a determined four years, a lot of training, and a computer simulation.
Jeter and her coach, John Smith, spend hours a day training. They work towards perfecting the runner’s movements to maximize efficiency and power in each of her strides, averaging five per second. In each training session Jeter is pitted against a runner who consistently bests the world record, without fail, on every run: herself.
Using software developed by Ralph Mann, USA Track and Field’s Sprint and Hurdle Biomechanist, Jeter is able to see a visualization of her perfected form. This stick-figure simulation does not bob its head, flop its wrists, or overreach on the second step. It uses every movement to reduce time, drag, and vertical momentum. With this direct feedback the Olympic athlete is able to identify problems in her actual technique.
This video from the Washington Post shows the behind-the-scenes of Jeter’s training.