What makes Usian Bolt the fastest sprinter on Earth? You might think that it’s his ability to move his legs more quickly than his rivals, but it seems that there’s a lot more to it.
As The Post Game reports, the science of human speed relies on a number of other factors which mean that even if Bolt moved his legs at exactly the same pace as the person next to him, he’d still have a better chance of winning. So what are the other factors at play here? It seems that he has a perfect comination of height, acceleration and strength.
Measuring 6’5″, Bolt’s height means that he can complete a 100 metre sprint in 41 strides, instead of a more usual 44 for elite sprinters. His strenth means that he can put those giant legs to use quickly. He can apply a lot of force to a long leg, creating greater force to propel him towards the finish line. The Post Game quotes Dr. Mike Young, a strength and speed coach, as explaining: “He accelerates better than all but one guy in the world – behind Asafa Powell – but because he’s so massive, he takes fewer strides. If you’re that large, once you’re moving, you stay moving.”
Bolt’s body mass also means he takes longer to slow down, boosting his endurance. If you think of him as a dumper truck compared to his rivals as motorcycles, “It takes a lot more resistance to slow down a dump truck than a motorcycle. Thus, when he fatigues, he slows down more slowly.”
This isn’t the kind of lifehack you can reproduce yourself, unless you plan on magically growing taller, but it does explain a little more clear why you probably can’t beat him.