A 100m in 9.58 sec and a 200m in 19.19 sec. This brief intro is sufficient for Usain Bolt, the fastest athlete on the planet. Widespread opinion about his large stride length and scientifically accurate technique of running gathered a lot of support for his claim of completing the 200m in under 19 sec. After declaring his retirement and a performance at Rio which although sustained his legacy but could not break his own records, it will be rather interesting to ask whether or not he could have done it under 19 sec.

But to start with, by layman logic, if 100m are completed in a certain stipulated time then 200m must take at least the double of that. But then it is pretty clear that the launch consumes a lot of time which is not to hinder during the later 100m of the race. Consequently the 4x100m relay world record being 36.84, the individual average run amounts to a 9.21 sec which has never been done for the 100 m sprint ever (however an 8.65 sec 100m stretch has been achieved by bolt in 4x100m in 2015).

Now even if we take the 9.81 sec of Bolt for the first 100m, he’ll have to cover the rest of the track in 9.19 sec to have a total timing of 19 sec which seems possible after the abovementioned discussion. But to prove it technically is how we can go about it:

  • Being the tallest sprinter (6’5”), in Berlin (100m) his single stride measure 2.44m which is also the longest.
  • It takes an average speed of 10.52 m/s to complete 200m in 19 sec.
  • Given his stride length, bolt will have to take an average speed of 4.31 steps (strides) per second.
  • Even while making his world record of 9.58 sec, he achieved 4.28 m/s.
  • His closest competitor in 100m, Tyson Gay (5’11”), with a record of 19.58 sec for 200m, had a stride length of 2.20 in Berlin.
  • Thus given the stride length, his speed was 10.21 m/s. Not being an impressive speed though, the speed in terms of steps per sec was 4.64 – much better than that of Bolt! In fact with this speed it would be possible to run the 200m in under 18 sec.

Experts opine that even if Bolt could take his step frequency to 4.5 – a little closer to his competitors he could have run the 100m in a mere 9.11 sec!


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