Mathematicians Say Usain Bolt Could Easily Run Even Faster

Posted on April 6, 2012

Usain Bolt, a Jamaican sprinter, is the fastest human on Earth. He has the world records for the fastest 100 meters (9.58 seconds) and 200 meters (19.19 seconds).

According to a study published in Significance, the magazine of the Royal Statistical Society and the American Statistical Association, Usain Bolt can achieve even faster running times with no extra effort on his part or improvement to his fitness. Cambridge Professor of Mathematical Sciences John D. Barrow illustrates how, based on mathematical evidence, Bolt can cut his world record from 9.58 seconds to 9.45. The Significance study highlights three factors that would improve Bolt's performance by a combined improvement of 0.13s. These factors include improving his starting time, increasing altitude and receiving a beneficial tailwind. Here are the three factors described in the research paper: Professor Barrow says, "With the relatively big chunks we've seen Bolt take out of world records, we are still a long way from understanding the limits of his, and others', sprinting speeds. What this study serves to illustrate is the insight maths can give into sports performance, which has not been done previously to such a degree of accuracy."

Here is a video of Bolt setting the record in the 100-meter dash. Take a look: