Olympic cycle planning for sprinters?

I always hear about “the olympic cycle” on TV and newspapers and how the high performance centers and athletes focus on preparing an athlete for an olympics in a full olympic cycle, is there any truth to an olympic cycle existing, or is it just a media invention?

If there is such a thing for a sprinter, how does one plan for it (even if the chances of making it to the olympics at the end of the cycle are very slim!)? Or is an olympic cycle for a sprinter nothing more then four “normal” one year cycles … and the olympic cycle is more of a political/funding then training concept (make sure the athlete has optimal facilities and funding to develop contunuously for those four years)?

Or are there factors like volume which can be manipulated during the four years to create a superpeak on the fourth year? For example not completely unload for three years and then create an even greater supercompensation on the fourth year (would that work?).

Or for example each year focus on a different quality and then put everything together the 4th year, even if it means that on the individual years a complete performance will not be achieved. For example one year develop acceleration much more at the expense of the other components. Next year maintain acceleration and shift focus to top speed improvement? Does any of this make sense or does it not work this way?

An Olympic cycle is an application of mulit-year planning. Depending on what the current level of physical preparedness is for any individual athlete, along with a host of other variables (eg sport, training age, SPP occupational and professional committments, etc) will determine what is to be considered when devising the training program.

Russia pioneered this type of programming and their repeated domination of many Olympic events (especially from the 60’s throught the late 80’s) is an illustration of the efficacy of this type of long term planning.

Throughout each annual cycle the manipulation of training/loading parameters must take place in order to accomodate and supercompinsate for the adaptation to various training stimuli. The frequency of competition determines how many peaking cycles there must be per annual cycle.

This concept of periodization is ulimately the key to athletic success.
At the end of the day, the most important variable, for any athlete, is to be able to express a maximized level of fitness and skill on the day of competition which he/she has determined to be of the highest value (which for many track and field athletes, is the Olympic games or World Championships)

The translated texts published by the Sportivny press, as well as the work of Siff, Zatsiorsky, Verkoshansky, Medvedyev, to name a few, do an excellent job of presenting the various considerations one must make when attempting to construct a multi-year plan.