Usain Bolt MPH: Breaking Down Amazing Speed from Olympic Sprinter

Gabe Zaldivar@gabezalPop Culture Lead WriterAugust 3, 2012

Contrary to popular opinion, Usain Bolt cannot fly. However, he does run extremely fast.

As the track and field events ramp up, Bolt will take center stage and give the world a glimpse of superhuman speed.

The questions remain: how fast and how much faster can he go?

Future Speeds

According to Fox News, humans—who top out at roughly 23 mph—may one day be able to reach phenomenal speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. 

That study showed that speed is based more on contracting muscle fibers than it is negated by sheer force of running. 

If the muscle fibers that get feet off the ground are maximized, top speeds of 40 miles per hour could be reached.

Although it's interesting to know how quickly humans may one day run, what about the current crop of top runners?

Bolt may have shown his best efforts at the 2008 Beijing Games with a 100-meter time of 9.69 seconds, but he crushed that time at the 2009 World Championships. 

There, he set two world records with a 100-meter time of 9.58 and a 200-meter time of 19.19. From there, we can gauge how fast truly fast can be. 

Lightning Bolt 

From the start, Fox News reports that Bolt reaches a speed of 28 mph. The BBC breaks down how he reaches this speed:

Bolt's 2009 world record time: 

Bolt covered the course from a standing start at 23.35 miles per hour. However, he dashed from the 60m to the 80m mark in 1.61 seconds, approximately 27.79 mph.

If he could maintain that speed over the whole 100m, with a flying start, he would record a time of 8.05 seconds.

Though we see that he does indeed conform to the human limits of about 23 miles per hour, his top speed is mind-boggling.

Live Science has some great comparisons with animals' speed.

  • Bolt ran 100 meters in 9.58 seconds, compared with the 5.8 seconds it would take a cheetah to cover that same distance.
  • Bolt ran 200 meters in 19.19 seconds, while a cheetah could sprint that distance in 6.9 seconds, a Black Caviar racehorse would gallop the same in 9.98 seconds, and a greyhound in 11.2 seconds.

As you can see, even our best just isn't good enough. 

That hardly negates the fact my jaw will be firmly placed on the ground after what is sure to be some amazing sprints from Usain Bolt and his swift colleagues. 

Follow me on Twitter for more Olympic intensity. 

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