Anthropometry and Olympic Athletes

The Olympic Games brings together the best athletes in the world in a wide range of sports. Over time it has provided a great opportunity to study the body size and composition of athletes from around the world and how that relates to performance. Here are details of some of the studies of athletes, grouped by the Olympic Games they relate to. We have also done our own anthropometric comparison of Olympic champions in the 100m sprint, marathon, all-round gymnasts and 100m swimming freestyle, looking at how their body shape has changed over time.

1900: An anthropometric program was undertaken at the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris. Measurements were taken of height and weight, and of the different segments of the body, medical examinations, and also photographs were taken of various subjects in three aspects (front, back and side), and photographs of them performing their event. See details.

1928: A team lead by Professor Buytendijk set up a laboratory for testing athletes at the 1928 Olympic Games, collecting anthropometric, cardiovascular, x-ray and metabolic data. See details.

1928: Knoll, W., Ed., Die sportärztlichen Ergebnisse der II. Olympischen Winterspiele in St. Moritz 1928 (The sports medical results of II Olympic Winter Games in St. Moritz in 1928). Knoll was a pioneer in sports medicine, and professor at the University of Hamburg.

Physique of the Olympic Athlete cover of Physique of the Olympic Athlete by J.M. Tanner

1932: Analysis of Olympic swimmers by Thomas K. Cureton. See details.

1948: results of Olympic Athletes published by T.K. Cureton, "Physical Fitness of Champion Athletes, University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 1951.

1952: Analysis by Ernst Jokl

1960: book published: Physique of the Olympic Athlete; A Study of 137 Track and Field Athletes at the XVIIth Olympic Games, Rome 1960; and a Comparison with Weight-Lifters and Wrestlers by J. M. Tanner.

1960: Correnti, V. e B. Zauli. Olimpionici 1960: Ricerche di Antropologia Morfologica sull'Atletica Leggera

1964: Olympic Medical Archives: Report, Tokyo 1964. Toshiro Azuma in collaboration with 5 co-workers edited a report with tabulated data based only on the files of the Olympic Medical Archives, including height, weight, somatotype ratings, and chest girth measurements.

1968: Genetic and Anthropological Studies of Olympic Athletes. Edited by A. L. de Garay, Louis Levine and J. E. Lindsay Carter. Pp. 250. (Academic Press, New York, 1974)

1972: Sportwissenschaftliche Untersuchungen während der XX. Olympischen Spiele, München 1972 (Scientific tests during the XX Olympic Games Munich 1972), by H Jungmann Publisher: Gräfelfing: K. Demeter, 1976.

1976: There were many studies that came out of The Montreal Olympic Games Anthropological Project, including: Physical Structure of Olympic Athletes: Part I: The Montreal Olympic Games Anthropological Project., Part II: Kinanthropometry of Olympic Athletes. Edited by Lindsay Carter.

Carter J. Somatotypes of olympic athletes from 1948 to 1976. En: Carter J editor. Physical structure of Olympic athletes. Basel: Karger; 1984. p. 80-119.

2012: In 2012 the IOC released a database containing data from most of the London Olympic Games participants, their height, weight, birth date, sport and country. See my summary and analysis of the data.

2016: In 2016 the IOC released a database containing data from most of the Rio Olympic Games participants, their height, weight, birth date, sport and country. See my summary and analysis of the data.

Other Publications (general or unknown Olympic Year)

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Olympics Extra

The next Olympics will be the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, followed by the Winter Olympics 2022 in Beijing. Check out the list of olympic sports, as well as discontinued and demonstration sports.

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