One of the most frustrating aspects of being a disability sports reporter sometimes is the lack of records and databases to turn to when you want to contextualize swimming and athletics performances. On the non-disability side, you have records in some cases going back over 100 years. These are accessible via APIs and other online databases that make doing analysis easy, and that make creating pretty charts easy. The data is all there if you just go get it.
Rio is coming up, and I can’t wait for the athletics events. Okay, I really can’t wait for everything. At the London Games, where I reported for English Wikinews, I covered all but sailing and wheelchair tennis at one point or another. But athletics? I had a front row seat to Oscar Pistorious’s second place finish where he then accused the Brazilian winner of cheating with his prosthetic legs.
The times early in the year suggested this year might be slower, with fewer athletes bringing their A games and smashing world records. I know some will be set though, and it is worth contextualizing in advance some of these potential world records against past ones and their progression. Thus, this earnest while reporter has spent the better part of the past three days trolling through every result page she could find looking for historical records to check the progression of these events. Complicating some of this issue is the official IPC list of records sometimes has some events vacant even though historical records appear to exist for them. No complete list exists publicly anywhere, so it is entirely possible that some were missed but if you’re watching Rio live from home, these world records should be helpful in understanding what’s going on the screen.
This article is the first in a series of articles looking at specific classes to look at these progressions in times, distances and performances when I’ve been able to find at least three available records.