"Lightning"
August 16, 2008 9:04 AM   Subscribe

Usain Bolt is (still) the fastest man in the world.

What's really sick is that he could have run even faster. He celebrated 20 meters early, throwing out his arms and thumping his chest.

I can't find a youtube link that will stick for more than a few seconds. The people in charge are keeping a very close eye on this, indeed.

I'm not normally into track, but I don't think I've ever seen a race where the winner made the (extremely fast) runners look so slooooooooooow.
posted by chuckdarwin (98 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
See? That was working when I posted.
posted by chuckdarwin at 9:05 AM on August 16, 2008


I don't know about YouTube, but I did watch his 100m heats live, and it was really, really impressive. Bolt bolted, I guess.

The gold shoes were really a nice touch, too. I would wear those same ones, if I had a pair.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:16 AM on August 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


When he kinda jogged over the line I thought he'd pulled something... No, he was just that good. (Trouble is, as ever, when there's a winning margin as good as this, there's always going to be that sliver of doubt)
Brilliant end to Super Saturday* though
* BRITZONE
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:17 AM on August 16, 2008


I'm all up in the Britzone, baby. Rainy Saturday, check. All I need is a can of Special Brew and a string vest.
posted by chuckdarwin at 9:24 AM on August 16, 2008


I've been telling people that the official Olympics video site in the US is pretty good. But it's impossible to find anything there. Near as I can tell this event isn't online yet; are they making us wait for the delay for US broadcast?
posted by Nelson at 9:28 AM on August 16, 2008


Wow, that Guardian story is terrible. Pretty much "he's too fast, he must have cheated". I haven't followed this at all; is there any reason for that angle at all, or is just UK tabloid sensationalism?
posted by yhbc at 9:32 AM on August 16, 2008


I've been using a proxy to watch everything on BBC iPlayer. If you can find a UK proxy, I highly recommend it (you'll need to do something like this though).
posted by djgh at 9:32 AM on August 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Anyone else get the impressesion from the NYT link that he was american?
posted by blue_beetle at 9:33 AM on August 16, 2008


Usain Bolt? Insane Bolt!
posted by lukemeister at 9:41 AM on August 16, 2008


the guardian is not a tabloid. is your response just the usual american naivety?
posted by not sure this is a good idea at 9:42 AM on August 16, 2008


Wow, that Guardian story is terrible. Pretty much "he's too fast, he must have cheated". I haven't followed this at all; is there any reason for that angle at all, or is just UK tabloid sensationalism?
posted by yhbc at 9:32 AM on August 16 [+] [!]


Sprinting (like cycling) is a sport rife with doping and doping allegations, especially when someone dominates like this. Further, the Guardian is not a tabloid.
posted by proj at 9:48 AM on August 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think the Jamacians were tested almost every day. They are closely scrutinised. I truly hope that Bolt hasn't been using PEDs.
posted by chuckdarwin at 9:50 AM on August 16, 2008


Oh come on. You seriously expect me to believe that the fastest man in the world is named Bolt!?
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:51 AM on August 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Video of the race.
posted by nickyskye at 9:54 AM on August 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Nickyskye - thats not the Olympic race.
posted by jeffmik at 9:57 AM on August 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Guardian is probably the opposite of a tabloid, in that it looks on stories like this with a jaundiced eye. It's neither sensationalist - like the NY Post - nor is it naive - like The NY Times.
posted by Zambrano at 10:00 AM on August 16, 2008


Zambrano,

The Guardian is my favorite paper in the world, but I don't think it's less naive than the New York Times.
posted by lukemeister at 10:07 AM on August 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah - his winning, world record time was 9.69, and it is insane how fast he was going and that he could have gone faster. I just watched it 15 times in a row on a now-dead (but still working for me until I close the tab) link.

In watching the tape-delay of the previous round last night, it was striking how he runs the first part of the race, but then again, I'm no track afficianado. But it was like he was hunched over and just pounding the ground, and then once he gets up to coasting speed, it's just unreal. He leans back and it's just like, cruising. I wonder if he could break 9.00 if he really went nuts?
posted by cashman at 10:12 AM on August 16, 2008


Try this one while it lasts.
posted by crazyray at 10:12 AM on August 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


The sports sections? I read both. The Guardian is wonderful. The Times sports section is drivel.
posted by Zambrano at 10:12 AM on August 16, 2008


Anyone else get the impressesion from the NYT link that he was american?
posted by blue_beetle at 12:33 PM on August 16 [+] [!]


Agreed. The closest the NYT article comes to identifying Bolt as Jamaican is this line in the 5th paragraph: "Asafa Powell, the former world-record holder who Jamaicans hoped would grace the medal podium along with Bolt," while never stating anywhere in the opening paragraph that Bolt is Jamaican. For a paper that has to state George Bush is President or Condoleezza Rice is Secretary of State in the opening paragraph of every news article, it's poor journalism writing, even for the sports section.
posted by thecjm at 10:17 AM on August 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


Not to be a downer, but do we really need posts about people breaking records when the videos of the events don't stay up for more than 5 minutes?
posted by Justinian at 10:28 AM on August 16, 2008


Sorry to derail the really interesting and valuable argument about UK vs. US journalism, but holy jeeze is that guy fast. He could have totally broken 9.6 if he hadn't spread out his arms.
posted by Damn That Television at 10:31 AM on August 16, 2008


I wonder if he could break 9.00 if he really went nuts

As effortless as he made his races look, I'd be surprised if he could break 9.60, even running full speed. I don't think the cruising at the end of his races slowed him down as much as you'd think.
posted by lukemeister at 10:33 AM on August 16, 2008


Yeah, he looked around and actually slowed down prior to the finish line. I bet that holding your arms down like this to produce maximum drag is also counter-productive. Or was he trying to take off? "One flew through the bird's nest"? I wonder how much time that cost him, perhaps 3 or 4/100? More?

In any case, Ben Johnson's WR was 9.79 sec. So Bolt is pretty exactly 1% faster. Does anyone seriously believe a not-chemically enhanced Bolt can be 1% faster than Ben Johnson pumped up to the gazoo with steroids? But it's not like he cheated, either. It is a pretty much well-established fact that none of the finalists is clean.

On some days, the chemistry is just right...
posted by sour cream at 10:34 AM on August 16, 2008


Not to be a downer, but do we really need posts about people breaking records when the videos of the events don't stay up for more than 5 minutes?

This one should last a day or two hopefully.
posted by cashman at 10:34 AM on August 16, 2008


Cheers, cashman.
posted by chuckdarwin at 10:37 AM on August 16, 2008


It is a pretty much well-established fact that none of the finalists is clean.

Trelawny Yam, anyone?
posted by cashman at 10:39 AM on August 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


But it's not like he cheated, either. It is a pretty much well-established fact that none of the finalists is clean. Huh? It's not like he cheated? Or, it's not like he didn't cheat? I'm confused. Also, where is that fact established. I'm not trying to contradict you, just curious.
posted by found missing at 10:39 AM on August 16, 2008


I don't think I've ever seen a race where the winner made the (extremely fast) runners look so slooooooooooow.

Ben Johnson.
posted by matteo at 10:40 AM on August 16, 2008 [4 favorites]


Thanks for the link, crazyray. That worked for me.

Anyone else get the impressesion from the NYT link that he was american?

Nope, especially considering the big "Jamaica" on his chest in the large photo at the top. But yeah, it certainly is odd that the NYT article doesn't directly mention his national affiliation in the text.

Bolt is 6-foot-5, one reason he was never really pegged to run the 100 — men that tall aren't supposed to be able to get out of the starting blocks and start accelerating fast enough to win the shortest sprint.

That could explain his dominance. You can see that his steps are waaay longer than any of the other runners. Find a coordinated 6-6 guy and get him sprinting!
posted by mrgrimm at 10:40 AM on August 16, 2008


mmm, yams.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:41 AM on August 16, 2008


thats not the Olympic race

*sorry, smacks forehead for the gazillionth time.
posted by nickyskye at 10:45 AM on August 16, 2008


On a related note, can anyone remind me of the word for the phenomena whereby someone's name influences what they do in life? (e.g. Usain Bolt becoming an extremely fast runner)
posted by HaloMan at 10:54 AM on August 16, 2008


watching cashman's non-youtube video, you can barely even see him stretching his arms out like that. The quality is pretty low but it looks like he just sort of sticks his arms out to the side. I doubt it slowed him down much at all.
posted by delmoi at 10:57 AM on August 16, 2008


Charley Paddock is the world's fastest man, or at least the first.
posted by Senator at 10:59 AM on August 16, 2008


Huh? It's not like he cheated? Or, it's not like he didn't cheat? I'm confused.

Sorry, should have been a little clearer.

All of the finalists use performance-enhancing drugs. So it's not like he cheated his fellow finalists. In fact, the playing field appears to be level.

So to be clear, I do admire his achievement, you can't pull that off with drugs alone, it takes years and years of arduous practice (and the right drugs to get you through that).
posted by sour cream at 11:03 AM on August 16, 2008


Astonishing! In particular, his top speed was way-fast.. In at least one sense, all this drug talk is really absurd: Bolt is doing something new.

As for drug use in general, and how ubiquitous it is.. As I said previously about The Tour:
Under WADA rules you are allowed to use many "banned substances" as long as you have a "medical need", and register a Therapeutic Use Exemption. For example, almost all endurance athletes are "asthmatic".
This makes understanding impossible for anyone outside the elite sports community.
posted by Chuckles at 11:05 AM on August 16, 2008


HaloMan,

New Scientist listed some appropriate names for scientists, but I don't know what the phenomenon you mentioned is called.
posted by lukemeister at 11:07 AM on August 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Can anyone remind me of the word for the phenomena whereby someone's name influences what they do in life?

Nominative determinism
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 11:07 AM on August 16, 2008 [6 favorites]


This gives a whole new meaning to cool runnings.
posted by nickyskye at 11:11 AM on August 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


Huh? It's not like he cheated? Or, it's not like he didn't cheat? I'm confused.
Yeah, what Usain?
posted by Flashman at 11:18 AM on August 16, 2008 [8 favorites]


You know, I can understand the skepticism, given his performance and easy finish.
But to jump ahead to not just to accusation but to acceptance of the use of banned PEDs? The NBCOlympics.com story itself notes that he's been tested extensively:
But the Jamaicans -- out on a Caribbean island where anti-doping programs are in their nascent stages -- have, since arriving in Beijing, undergone so many tests, 32 in seven days, that Jamaican officials started to complain.
Of course this could be a first but no Jamaicans who train in Jamaica have ever been found to be doping either.

Until proven otherwise, I'll be busy annoying folks at work by draping myself in the Jamaican flag at every meeting for a week.
posted by strawdog at 11:19 AM on August 16, 2008 [1 favorite]




Bolt is 6-foot-5, one reason he was never really pegged to run the 100 — men that tall aren't supposed to be able to get out of the starting blocks and start accelerating fast enough to win the shortest sprint.

Among gardeners and farmers 'bolt' can mean 'to grow too tall'.
posted by jamjam at 11:26 AM on August 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


All of the finalists use performance-enhancing drugs

Based on what evidence? Hearsay? Received Folk Wisdom? You've seen the test results? These athlete's are tested constantly- since the shameful exposure of Marion Jones, testing regimes have been stepped significantly.

I for one am willing to give The Fastest Yardie In The World the benefit of the doubt.
posted by vurnt22 at 11:35 AM on August 16, 2008 [1 favorite]




These athlete's are tested constantly- since the shameful exposure of Marion Jones, testing regimes have been stepped significantly.

How so? By testing the athletes more often? If the tests don't work in the first place, what good will that do? Many, many athletes (in all sports) have shown that tests are easy to get around.

Sure, you have to give Usain Bolt the benefit of the doubt, but when he breaks the world record by jogging the final 15 metres, can you blame people for wondering if something is amiss? Especially when the records he's been beating have been set by people who have subsequently been exposed as cheats.
posted by afx237vi at 11:46 AM on August 16, 2008


It is possible for someone to come along and just be that far ahead of the rest of the world. I'm sure you all remember the 1968 Olympics and a fellow named Bob Beamon, who broke the world long jump record, becoming not only the first jumper to break 28 feet, but also the first to break 27 feet as well - he was that far ahead of the rest of the world.
posted by An Infinity Of Monkeys at 12:02 PM on August 16, 2008


My preceding comment should refer to 29 feet and 28 feet respectively, not 28 and 27. Apologies.
posted by An Infinity Of Monkeys at 12:04 PM on August 16, 2008


An Infinity Of Monkeys, thanks for that. It's interesting. I was just watching Powell v Lewis...
posted by chuckdarwin at 12:16 PM on August 16, 2008


Watching that video, he had a pretty crappy start, then after about 20 meters ran like he had a rocket up his ass. Amazing. Imagine what he could do if he could put together a quick start out of the blocks with that kind of acceleration. I'm hoping they video where the camera tracks the runners at their level, that always gives it a great perspective for me.
posted by Eekacat at 12:23 PM on August 16, 2008


I missed watching it live on the CBC, but since catching the replay this morning (after learning that Canada finally won some medals - Congrats team!), I've watched it numerous times.

All I can think of is Ben Johnson vs. Carl Lewis at the Seoul games in '92. Johnson demolished the field in a similar fashion, and yet he would have been a full second behind this performance. Utterly astonishing.

I truly hope that he's not caught doping. The Johnson debacles was a terrible blow to Canadian Olympic pride and hung like a cloud over our athletes for many years. I'd hate to see that happen here.

That being said, they're all doping. The dopers are as far ahead of the testers as Bolt was from the rest of the pack.
posted by C.Batt at 12:23 PM on August 16, 2008


The Guardian article makes Usain out to be a cheat and was quite negative. Now one cannot access the article with that OP link. Their new article, written with a different tone.

Rewatching the video I linked of him winning the 100 meters world record and then crazyray's Olympics video link (thanks crazyray :) , it seems like Usain's style is to chest thump and open his arms. Man he's fast. Wow. What legs.

What a name, "Bolt". Nominative determinism, huh, good to know about, thanks Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese. Yup, he's a lightning bolt, for sure.
posted by nickyskye at 12:51 PM on August 16, 2008


One reason why the huge lead might not be drugs is that Bolt is significantly taller than everyone else. For years it's been received wisdom that tall athletes don't make good 100m sprinters due to their lack of explosive start. Bolt's managed to get around this (although his start still wasn't exactly great) but once you get into the main part of the race his stride length has the advantage. One of the British commentators, Colin Jackson, reckons with the right conditions Bolt could get the record down to 9.5.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:53 PM on August 16, 2008


I'm sure his relaxing near the end removed a bit from his time, but I doubt it was all that much.

It's kind of funny watching his start; he's almost clumsy for a bit, like he's a little uncertain about what to do. Then he sort of stabilizes, finds his stride, and absolutely annihilates everyone else on the field. It really looks like he's struggling and a bit uncomfortable until he gets up to his full running gait, but then has such overwhelming, raw natural speed that he wins anyway.

The man is breaking world records with a crappy start and losing a bit of focus in the last eight or ten meters. He's that fast.

Once the censors aren't going quite so overboard, I'll try to chase down a video of him running a 200. I'd like to see that. It looks like he'd be so far out in front that calling it a race would be a bit of a misnomer. The race, I think, would be for second place.
posted by Malor at 12:59 PM on August 16, 2008


Imagine what he could do if he could put together a quick start out of the blocks with that kind of acceleration.

See my above comment about his unusual size (6'5") for a sprinter. I don't think he'll ever get a jackrabbit start.

That being said, they're all doping. The dopers are as far ahead of the testers as Bolt was from the rest of the pack.

A few people seem to have this opinion that of course it's common knowledge that all athletes are doping (are you talking specifically about blood doping or are you using it colloquially, i.e. "taking 'drugs'"?)

Can somebody provide a link or some reference/info about some of the practices? If everyone knows about it, surely some resourceful journalist has investigated some of the black-market techniques ...

If you're just talking out of your ass, well, carry on.

All I can think of is Ben Johnson vs. Carl Lewis at the Seoul games in '92. Johnson demolished the field in a similar fashion, and yet he would have been a full second behind this performance. Utterly astonishing.

You mean '88? When he ran 9.79 (supposedly aided by steroids)? That's 1/10th of a second, and would have been 2nd place today, easily.

Hell, they topped 10.69 back in the 1910s, when they used to run in dress shoes.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:04 PM on August 16, 2008


Malor: chase down a video of him running a 200. I'd like to see that. It looks like he'd be so far out in front that calling it a race would be a bit of a misnomer. The race, I think, would be for second place.

Yup, you're right. Here's a 200 vid.
posted by nickyskye at 1:38 PM on August 16, 2008


Malor: Once the censors aren't going quite so overboard, I'll try to chase down a video of him running a 200. I'd like to see that. It looks like he'd be so far out in front that calling it a race would be a bit of a misnomer. The race, I think, would be for second place.

Surprisingly, his 200m times aren't that fast, yet.. Well, pretty fast actually, but I bet we're in for something special in the next week :P

mrgrimm: A few people seem to have this opinion that of course it's common knowledge that all athletes are doping (are you talking specifically about blood doping or are you using it colloquially, i.e. "taking 'drugs'"?)

Dude, WADA stands for World Anti-Doping Agency. There is nothing colloquial about the use of the term.

And, as for the claim that they are all doping.. I believe that they probably all have at least one therapeutic use exemption, and so even if testing is perfect, they are still all doping in some loose sense. It makes life pretty frustrating, but we all just have to learn to deal with the ambiguity.
posted by Chuckles at 1:51 PM on August 16, 2008


Actually, look at that wind reading, -0.5 m/s compared to Michael Jonson's +0.4m/s, so that 19.67s run was real fast. Here's the video, of the 19.67s run, not in english.
posted by Chuckles at 1:58 PM on August 16, 2008


THE record books will say last night's Olympic men's 100m final lasted 9.69 seconds

I've lasted less than that. Where's my gold medal?
posted by yort at 2:00 PM on August 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


How so? By testing the athletes more often? If the tests don't work in the first place, what good will that do?

It's a ever changing game of Cat & Mouse between testers & cheaters-the tests and the substances are in constant flux... Exposure by rivals or substance providers co-operating with the authorities is a factor as well.


Winners of these contests are now under constant scrutiny... To win is to invite suspicion, assumption, and opprobrium.

Which must suck if you're clean.
posted by vurnt22 at 2:03 PM on August 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


In the heat, he started extremely fast if I recall correctly.
posted by Jimbob at 2:10 PM on August 16, 2008


yort,

Did you go 100 meters?
posted by lukemeister at 2:27 PM on August 16, 2008


It is a pretty much well-established fact that none of the finalists is clean.

Cite or shut the fuck up, because you clearly don't know what you're talking about.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:23 PM on August 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


hehe, an infinity of monkeys, using strange non-metrical measurements will always bring you into doubt.

On another note, using doping is being handled like a crime, not misdemeanor, but Crime, in several European states, due to premature death of athletes ages ago, who were taking drugs of all kinds in order to cheat. In European context, this is mostly noted at bicycle races like the Tour de France.

Doping is not just about cheating, it is about doing things that can kill yourself, just in order to win. Not a good reason in my book.

Great race, though, especially the fact that Gay didn't make the finals made it very captivating too!
posted by KimG at 3:34 PM on August 16, 2008


Imagine what he could do if he could put together a quick start out of the blocks with that kind of acceleration.

See my above comment about his unusual size (6'5") for a sprinter. I don't think he'll ever get a jackrabbit start.


I know that's the prevailing thought regarding the tall guys, but did you see his start in this race? If he can get out of the blocks without skidding or stumbling he'd be even more awesome. I'm not saying he needs to be the fastest out of the blocks, but it'd help if he got out clean.

As far as his antics at the end not affecting his time that much, they are measuring in hundredths of a second. I wouldn't be surprised if he has a 3.65 or lower if he runs the full 100 meters.
posted by Eekacat at 3:43 PM on August 16, 2008




Can anyone remind me of the word for the phenomena whereby someone's name influences what they do in life?

Name-freakism.
posted by telstar at 3:51 PM on August 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


technically, nominal determinism.
posted by Laotic at 3:57 PM on August 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Not to derail too much into Phelpsville, but I did watch that race live, and the overhead video is inconclusive. Is there any underwater footage around?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:50 PM on August 16, 2008


dnab: check out Plexi's links in this deleted thread
posted by found missing at 4:57 PM on August 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh.. ta. Yeah. that's pretty conclusive.

And another plug for Cavic's blog. Now that is one class act.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:14 PM on August 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Not only is Michael Phelps the greatest amphibians of all times*, I have it on good authority that he's a reptoid.
posted by lukemeister at 5:17 PM on August 16, 2008


Anyone else get the impression from the NYT link that he was american?

Clearly they thought he was Usian.
posted by bwg at 5:29 PM on August 16, 2008 [4 favorites]


I eat yams and I'm pretty fast for almost-40. That guy must eat a LOT of yams. But even an enormous quantity of yams would be insufficient to run 3.65, eekacat. That kind of time can only be posted by Mister_Neutron (no relation).
posted by Mister_A at 6:51 PM on August 16, 2008


Hey! I'm going to Trelawney next month as part of a project to deliver and install donated computers and wireless internet to Brampton Primary, a school of ninety children who have never had computers or internet.

This is terrific!
posted by humannaire at 8:26 PM on August 16, 2008


Pfft. I think you mean Wally West...
posted by Dreamghost at 8:43 PM on August 16, 2008


Looking at the way he starts and the way he runs, he reminded me of a car taking off in too high of a gear; which, given the length of his bones, is probably actually a fairly good parallel to what's happening. Costs him a bit on the start, but once he hits his power band he's much better placed to speed away.
posted by flabdablet at 7:23 AM on August 17, 2008


NBC Olympics finally has the official video online.
posted by Nelson at 7:42 AM on August 17, 2008


A few people seem to have this opinion that of course it's common knowledge that all athletes are doping

Can somebody provide a link or some reference/info about some of the practices? If everyone knows about it, surely some resourceful journalist has investigated some of the black-market techniques ...

If you're just talking out of your ass, well, carry on.


Cite or shut the fuck up, because you clearly don't know what you're talking about.

I don't know if all athletes are doping and obviously nobody has a cite for it (because then nobody would get the medals). But I would have to say without a doubt if you think the majority of athletes are clean, you live in la-la land. Anyway here's Ben Johnson's coach and here is another interview with an ex-strength coach. Lastly the reason Bolt let his form go at the end was the same reason Ben Johnson raised his finger in his famous Olympic race(which is also the reason it pissed everyone off and probably got him so scrutinized). I don't know about other athletes but sprinters get large sums of prize money when they win or break a record. If you let your form go it's easier to break the record and set the standard a little higher so you can keep cashing in those $150,000.00 checks.

Lastly here is an interview with Ben Johnson himself.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:18 PM on August 17, 2008


Doping is not just about cheating, it is about doing things that can kill yourself, just in order to win. Not a good reason in my book.

This is an interesting statement because most life extension groups would disagree with you. Being that they suggest taking Growth Hormone for the very reason of life extension.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:23 PM on August 17, 2008


Related, sort of:
What is the true measure of a nation's Olympic prowess, total medals or total gold medals?
The official website gives the answer as the number of golds, and the BBC and other UK media seem to agree; so does Spandau Ballet.
Whereas the NYT and e.g. Yahoo seem to now consider the total number of medals as the deciding factor. Who is correct?

Is this like when, at the 1996 Olympics, after the US didn't win the 100m race (Canada's Donovan Bailey did), the US media decided that it was actually the winner of the 200m who was the 'Fastest Man Alive'? The winner of the 200m being the American Dennis Johnson, who did, the argument went, attain a higher top speed during his race than the top speed of a 100m runner.
posted by Flashman at 2:52 PM on August 17, 2008


Flashman: The winner of the 200m being the American Dennis Johnson, who did, the argument went, attain a higher top speed during his race than the top speed of a 100m runner
Did your axe-grinding mean to mention Dennis Johnson, NBA guard formerly of the Sonics, Sun, and Celtics? Or did you mean Michael Johnson, whose 200m world record of 19.32 still stands?

What Michael Johnson billed himself as, to make the most out of his Olympic success, is not the point. As of now, the fastest person in the world based on the 100m- by a considerable margin- is Usain Bolt, who also may have set the fastest peak speed. If god forbid he sets a record in the 200m, then he'll indisputably be the FMA.
posted by hincandenza at 7:18 PM on August 17, 2008


Or did you mean Michael Johnson, whose 200m world record of 19.32 still stands?

He just ran 19.30 in the 200 and set a new world record.
posted by cashman at 7:31 AM on August 20, 2008


Usain Bolt, that is, who is now the fastest man alive, and I'd legitimately think that he really is the fastest man alive. I have yet to see the video, but I wonder how far ahead he was. Maybe it was a nail biter.
posted by cashman at 7:32 AM on August 20, 2008


but I wonder how far ahead he was

Very far ahead... even more impressive than the 100m, probably because he was obviously trying for the record.

Johnson does coverage for the BBC and he was very magnanimous about loosing his record.

By an odd coincidence I've just found out I share the same birthday as Bolt...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:44 AM on August 20, 2008


He was really, really fucking far ahead.

One runner apparently commented that Usain Bolt could run, stop, and do a cartwheel and he would still win.

That man is something else. Seriously.. pure poetry in motion.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:46 AM on August 20, 2008


Or did you mean Michael Johnson, whose 200m world record of 19.32 still stands?

What Michael Johnson billed himself as, to make the most out of his Olympic success


Errrrr... actually it was the media that started calling him that. The US media. Despite the fact that the winner of the 100m sprint had been known as the 'Fastest Man Alive' for ages. Until our Bailey spanked everyone.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:48 AM on August 20, 2008


He won again:

He holds both world and Olympic 100 metres and 200 metres records with times of 9.69 seconds and 19.30 seconds respectively. He is the first man in history to break both world records at one Olympics, and the first man to win both the 100 and 200 metres events at the same olympics since Carl Lewis in 1984.
posted by chuckdarwin at 10:02 AM on August 20, 2008


He won again

I'm the Usain Bolt of this thread about Usain Bolt on Metafilter!
posted by cashman at 10:37 AM on August 20, 2008


Video, and a great little interview with Bolt, are on the CBC website (choose category: sports -> athletics. Then look for Day12: Men's 200m in the far right).

Wind: -0.9m/s
posted by Chuckles at 10:40 AM on August 20, 2008


Yeah seriously, that's the insane part. He spanked the crap out of everyone, and set new World and Olympic records, while running into a fucking headwind!!!
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:42 AM on August 20, 2008


me: Or did you mean Michael Johnson, whose 200m world record of 19.32 still stands?
cashman: He just ran 19.30 in the 200 and set a new world record.
Obviously when I posted that he hadn't even run the semifinal. You neglected to fucking quote my next paragraph, where I said "If god forbid he sets a record in the 200m, then he'll indisputably be the FMA.". Which he has now done, and is inarguably the "Fastest Man Alive". World records in both sprint events in the same Olympics? No contest.

What does the wind thing mean- does that mean they adjust the time by some proportion? I noticed his record is listed as 19.30, while the one youtube video that has a cameraphone-videoing-a-TV (fuck you NBC) showed it as 19.31. How do they adjust the time based on wind?
posted by hincandenza at 4:31 PM on August 20, 2008


What does the wind thing mean- does that mean they adjust the time by some proportion?

No they don't, but a record is only valid if it's set while the wind speed is between certain parameters

I guess that possibly the official time is slightly different from the one shown as it was measured with a more accurate timer
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:03 PM on August 20, 2008


The wind was blowing against Bolt by almost 0.9 m/s. The wind was blowing with Johnson by 0.4 m/s. That means that in practice, Bolt was much much faster than Johnson - extrapolating from this, effectively about 0.1s faster. No corrections are applied, but if the wind is more than +2.0m/s the time is not eligible for consideration as a record.

According to CBC, his time was rounded down to 19.30, which means it was probably measured as something like 19.303s.. The official clock is measuring thousandths of seconds, but records are recorded in hundredths. It seems that live clocks tend to display 10.01s for the entire interval 10.00 < t ≤ 10.01, or something.. In any case, it is common for the live clock to be 0.01s higher than the official clock.

Flashman: Is this like when, at the 1996 Olympics, after the US didn't win the 100m race (Canada's Donovan Bailey did), the US media decided that it was actually the winner of the 200m who was the 'Fastest Man Alive'? The winner of the 200m being the American Dennis [Michael] Johnson, who did, the argument went, attain a higher top speed during his race than the top speed of a 100m runner.

Of course it is. See American exceptionalism :P
posted by Chuckles at 5:09 PM on August 20, 2008


Actually, back in 1984, I remember some CBC reporter doing a lot of creative math - factoring population, team size, who knows what else - and determining that Canada won the Los Angeles Olympics. No sign of it online though.
posted by Chuckles at 5:37 PM on August 20, 2008


Not to point out the obvious, but he won again... and broke the 100m relay record.
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:14 PM on August 22, 2008


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