Home BiologyThe Science Behind Some of the Greatest Athletic Accomplishments In History
BiologyBy Joe Burgett -

The Science Behind Some of the Greatest Athletic Accomplishments In History
[Image via Blackdoctor.org]

Jackie Joyner-Kersee’s Heptathlon Domination

American Jackie Joyner-Kersee might have fit in well with the Greeks at the original Olympics. She would likely dominate in their Heptathlon as much as she did the ones she took part in in the 1980s. To be clear, there are two versions of the Heptathlon. Both include 7 events (Hepta is Greek for Seven), but the men’s and women’s events differ some. For men, you take part in a 60m race, long jump, shot put, high jump, 60m hurdles, pole volt, and 1000m race.

For women, it’s the 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200m race, long jump, javelin throw, and 800m race. Due to how much each sex goes through, this seems to be an even playing field of events. Therefore, it should not be overlooked that Jackie’s score was better than any male or female before or after her. She reached 7148 points at the Goodwill Games in 1986. Then 7291 points at the 1988 Olympics. She now owns the top six heptathlon scores all-time. 483 points more than the male record holder. The cardio to do this is insane but the ability to train to perfectly excel in 7 different events is the stuff of legend.

The Science Behind Some of the Greatest Athletic Accomplishments In History
[Image via National Geographic]

Our El Capitan: Alex Honnold

Many people climb up mountains or rock climb up some impressive rocky structures. Yet very few mountaineers have the stones below the belt to free climb. While there are some who might free climb smaller places, Alex Honnold decided to climb 7,500 feet up El Capitan in Yellowstone National Park completely free. Most free climbers might at least have others around climbing with them, some of which are climbing with regular equipment to help if needed. Yet Alex, who was the subject of the Academy Award-winning Free Solo documentary, did all of this alone.

Oh yeah, and he managed to scale El Capitan in just four hours. He is the only person in history to have ever done this. Honnold also possesses the record for the fastest time on “The Nose” section of El Capitan too. It is clearly one of the greatest athletic accomplishments ever. His grip strength and ability to know how to properly climb helped him. But what also helped was knowing his body and the mountain well enough to know when and where to step at the right time. Honnold has spent years climbing El Capitan and knew he could do it free solo by the time he filmed the documentary.

Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

NBC Sports

CBS Sports



National Geographic

New York Times

USA Today

Golf Digest

Free Solo Documentary


Red Bull