Engineering the Perfect Athlete

The pulsating industry of sports science is pushing the outer limits of human performance. The new formula: less pain, more gain. But beware of the hype and the hokum. Sweat still counts

From the time he took up the long jump at age 11, Mike Powell showed great potential. But in his first 15 years of competition he had trouble making it to the far end of the sandpit. His jumps consistently measured in the 7.6-m- to-7.9-m range, more than a meter short of record-breaking territory. Then in 1988 he began improving rapidly. At the world championships in Tokyo last August, Powell came into his own. He bounded down the runway, hit the board and soared 8.95 m, eclipsing by 5 cm the "unbreakable" record set by America's Bob Beamon 24 years ago....

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