Wondering Why?

Why is Usain Bolt So Fast?

Why is Usain Bolt So Fast?

With a last name like Bolt, it is only natural that Usain Bolt is the fastest human being on Earth. At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, it has been report that during the final event of the 100m sprint, he began celebrating before he had even crossed the finish line, because he had looked around and saw that he had such a big lead. He finished the race in 9.69 seconds, defeating his own previously held World Record of 9.72 seconds. Bolt is actually reported to have jogged the last 20 meters of the semi-final race, but still just barely missing his world record (at the time) by .13 seconds.

Why Bolt is so much faster than many of his peers, despite being so much taller (6 foot 5!), is a big question. Short runners generally run faster, a simple question of physics: the larger the runner, the more energy it will take to move the body the same distance as a smaller runner. However, his height also gives him a greater stride. It has also been studied that his feet’s dorsiflexion (the flexion opposite of pointing the toes, flexing the toes towards the shin) would keep his heel further off of the ground, letting him keep energy throughout the race; the lower the heel comes to the ground, the more energy it takes to lift it back up. Also, it may have to do with the way he points his toes ‚ plantar flexion ‚ during the push off phase. Another explanation is that he has higher proportions of a protein, Actinen A, in his fast-twitch muscles, meaning he is naturally adapted to sprinting events.

Again, it could also be that what ever makes him fast at running is the same thing that makes Michael Phelps such a fish out of water, when he isn’t in the water. Both athletes are the unquestioned best in their respective sports, whether this has to do with their physiological features, or because they simply train harder and better than the rest.


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