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Closing the gap

SLOW and steady wins the race; only the women are picking up pace and men are slowing down! In a major blow to the male ego, a new Oxford University study on women sprinters has found that with the passage of time women will overtake men in the 100m sprint. The study has found that if women continue to close the gap at the present rate of improvement they would soon be outrunning men within 150 years. None of us will be here for the 2156 Olympics to see that happen, but when it does, the last male bastion will have fallen. The steady rise and rise of women in virtually all fields can be seen. From housewives to secretaries, to CEOs, presidents and prime ministers, their rise up the ladder of success has been steady. Slowly but surely they have been chipping away at the once male-run world and the exclusive old boys club is taking a severe beating as more and more women take on roles that were once their exclusive preserve. But back to the study.

How did they come about this conclusion that many a man will scoff at — former British Olympic sprinter Derek Redmond has already gone on record saying, I find it difficult to believe. The study compared the winning times for the Olympic 100m since 1900 and calculated that by 2156 a woman sprinter would breast the tape in the 100m run in 8.079 seconds putting her ahead of her male colleague by 0.1 fraction of a second (men are expected to manage a best result of 8.098). Mathematics is never wrong. And this study was a mathematical calculation based on women’s run timings over the years.

At the first women’s 100m event, staged in Amsterdam in 1928, the winning time was 12.2 seconds compared with the men’s 10.8 — a difference of 1.4 seconds. By 1952, the margin had decreased to 1.1 seconds, with the men breasting the tape at 10.4 seconds and the women at 11.5. In Olympics between 1988 and 2000, the difference was under one second. But in Athens this summer, the gap widened to 1.08 seconds. But, says the study, if overall trends continued, the gap would close up again to 0.84 seconds at the 2008 Beijing Olympics — just one year away!

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