Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter who competed in the 2012 London Olympics, is widely known as the fastest man ever. Bolt is the first man in history to hold both the world records for the 100 meter and 200 meter sprint. Running 100 meters in 9.58 seconds and 200 meters in 19.19 seconds required that he be able to produce and effectively use ample energy to support the strain he puts on all of the systems of his body.
Energy is derived from the food we put into our bodies and the oxygen we breathe. The food is chemically changed and metabolized at the cellular level (aerobically—with oxygen, anaerobically—without), which means it goes through processes that eventually convert it to ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP is the source of energy that gives Bolt and other athletes the ability to do amazing things.
Learn the basics of how chemistry fuels running or read the more technical details.
Articles by Josh Sewell.
Using performance-enhancing drugs has become an unfortunate reality in the world of competitive sports. Even as recently as the 2012 Olympics, an athlete (Nadzeya Ostapchuk) was stripped of her gold medal after scientists found banned chemical agents in her urine.
One has to wonder why talented young men and women would go to such lengths for that slight edge over their competitors. Perhaps they are unaware of some of the dangerous side effects that can last throughout their lives, and can even affect their offspring. Research has uncovered multiple side effects that should deter even the most competitive athlete from using performance-enhancing drugs.
Learn the basics of physiology and performance-enhancing drugs or learn the technical physiological details.
Articles by Kirstin Roundy.
When an athletes stands on the podium to receive their Olympic Medal, they’ve worked long and hard to get to that place. The creation of the medal hanging around their neck also goes through an arduous process, but instead of blood, sweat, and tears, this journey is made with chemistry.
Learn more about the basic chemistry behind Olympic medals.
Articles by Kenny Morly.
Athletes have many factors to consider when it comes to improving their performance, and one of these critical aspects is maintaining proper water levels, or hydration. Water makes up about 60 percent of the human body, and is critical to transport nutrients and maintain body temperature, among other physiological processes.
Numerous beverages and sports drinks have been promoted as being beneficial for fluid replacement or retention in athletes. For moderate exercise (less than two hours), water should be sufficient to meet hydration needs. For longer periods, sports beverages, drinks, or gels can help replace electrolytes lost in sweat. Some products are also recommended after exercise to replace the proteins and carbohydrates consumed. It is important for athletes to have proper hydration and nutrient levels before, during, and after exercise for both performance and overall health, and specialized products can help fulfill these needs.
Learn the basics of staying hydrated or read the more technical explanation.
Articles by Jamie Saunders.
The composition of golf balls has evolved through the years. Two-layered balls, which are inexpensive and popular, have come a long way. Polymers combined with natural compounds from rubber have been used to create golf balls that have good distance, high abrasion resistance, and optimal firmness. Scientists are beginning to research ways to prolong the life of balls after they are exposed to moisture.
Articles by Jessica Egan.