We already know that Usain Bolt is the fastest runner in the world, but what’s his exact top speed?
Usain has a top speed of 27.79 miles per hour, which he achieved at the Berlin 2009 World Championships, setting a world record that no one, not even himself, can beat.
Read on to find out the science behind how Usain Bolt became the fastest runner in the world and achieved his unbelievable top speed.
The Science Behind His Speed: Unique Muscular Build & Paywall
What makes Usain Bolt the fastest man in the world? Some researchers believe it is his unique muscular build. He has an abundance of fast-twitch muscle fibers that are used to generate huge bursts of powerful force. Our muscle movement is shaped by the proteins actin and myosin, which interact particularly effectively in Usain Bolt.
He also hits the ground harder and faster than other athletes. Scientists have calculated that, theoretically, the highest speed a human being could achieve on the 100-meter dash is 5.18 seconds. The Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt has come really close to that with a world record of 9.58 seconds for the 100-meter race.
It took the first 100m Olympic gold medal winner 12 seconds to win the 100-meter sprint. Finishing the 100-meter race with 10 seconds is an incredible feat that only 124 men have been able to achieve since then, and no one other than Usain Bolt has been able to come close to the incredible physical achievement of 9.58 seconds yet. That’s practically flying!
His World Records
Usain Bolt became a world record holder in the 100 meters and 200 meters at three consecutive Olympics, as well as two 4 x 100 meters relays. His unbelievable achievements have inspired the world and his sports dominance has earned him billions of adoring fans. What does it take to be the most successful runner in the world? Continuously breaking world records, which has won him several World Championship gold medals, helps. Did you know Usain Bolt considered pursuing a career in football after retiring but ultimately chose not to?
Watch him talk about his love for the game below:
Still Not As Fast as a Cheetah
In the 2009 World Championships, the famous sprinter set his last two world records with a 100-meter time of 9.58 seconds and a 200-meter time of 19.19 seconds. The fastest human still can’t run as fast as a cheetah, though. It would take a cheetah only 5.8 seconds to cover 100 meters! We hope he won’t ever have to run against one! His ever-improving performances have allowed him to defend his dominance on the 200m for a very long time.
The Math Behind His Speed
Usain Bolt is 6 feet, 5 inches tall. As a boy, he was focused on playing soccer but he became a runner in his teenage years. If you have seen his world record setting runs, you will see the gleeful look that spreads across his face when he glances back after making it halfway through the race and sees how much farther ahead he is than his competitors. It is endearing. When exactly during these iconic races does he reach his top speed, though?
In 2008, his fastest average speed occurred somewhere between 50 and 80 meters. He accelerates until he achieves his top speed at the three-quarter point in the race and then decelerates until his speed drops dramatically to 22.6 miles per hour, but still manages to cross the finish line before any of his competitors. In 2009, Usain Bolt shattered his world record of 9.69 seconds by achieving 9.58 seconds. This means that Usain Bolt’s average speed over the 100-meter race was about 23.2 mph.
That is the most impressive average speed a human being has ever achieved, even though it’s only slightly more than the top speed of a hippopotamus and much less than the top speed of a kangaroo!