WCU Professor’s New Research Method Explores Secrets of Human Speed

A new research method for measuring human speed that was developed by WCU professor Kenneth Clark, inset, may unlock the secrets of world champion Usain Bolt. Background image via YouTube.

As one of three developers of a new research method for measuring how sprinters attain their top speeds, West Chester University’s Kenneth Clark, an assistant professor of kinesiology, may have helped scientists uncover a secret of the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt.

Researchers using Clark’s two-mass model of running mechanics recently discovered that Bolt may be taking advantage of an asymmetrical running gait, according to a EurekAlert! report from Southern Methodist University.

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“Our observations raise the immediate scientific question of whether a lack of symmetry represents a personal mechanical optimization that makes Bolt the fastest sprinter ever or exists for reasons yet to be identified,” said researcher Andrew Udofa.

The two-mass method allows scientists to measure ground reaction forces through mere observation, rather than the traditional use of direct sensors on the running surface — typically a special treadmill, the article explained.

“The two-mass model provides us with a new tool for assessing the crucial early portion of foot-ground contact that is so important for sprinting performance,” Udofa said.

Read more about the origins of Clark’s two-mass research method and its use in the Usain Bolt discovery on EurekAlert! here.

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