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August 25, 2009 10:30 AM

Usain Bolt Inspires Imagination

Usain Bolt is an absolute freak of nature. He is setting world records, and then destroying them. Recently, at the IAAF World Championships of Athletics, Bolt set the world record in the 100m (9.58 seconds) and the 200m (19.19 seconds). Bolt has brought a new level of excitement to track and field and that has spilled over into sports writing. When someone like Bolt steps onto the sports landscape everyone can’t help but take notice. But how much can be written about a guy running really, really fast? Bolt needs to be covered and writers need to get creative.

A common strategy is to attempt to translate his skill to another sport. Given his speed many began wondering how he would fare in the NFL. Other track stars have made the transition, including Willie Gault, Renaldo Nehemiah; and Bob Hayes, who was recently inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. At 6-5, and the fastest man in the world, it’s no wonder why people’s minds would wander to Bolt streaking down the field as a quarterback tries not to under throw him by 15 yards. But how fast is Bolt compared to those in the NFL?

Lucky for us, the NFL measures speed in the 40-yard dash at the Combine. This past year, Darrius Heyward-Bey ran the fastest time at 4.30 seconds. How fast could Bolt run it? Well, that’s debatable, but a recent estimate by ESPN track and field reporter Larry Rawson suggests a time that’s probably faster than it took to read this sentence. On ESPN Radio, he had this to say:

"Forty yards, if he was being hand-timed by a scout and reacting to his movement - not electronically timed the way they do it [in track and field] - his 40-yard dash on a track, in spikes, would be 3.73 seconds."
Host: [Laughter] "He would run a sub four-second 40-yard dash?"
LR: "Listen, I did the math as though it was electronically timed, which it's not for football – electronically timed – and it came out to 3.97 seconds."
Whether or not his speed would translate to success on the gridiron is unknown, but a sub four-second 40 is insane. Insane for a human that is. Cameron Stratcher of the Wall Street Journal decided to see how Bolt would measure up to the rest of the animal kingdom. With Bolt’s top speed being about 25 mph there are many animals much faster than him, including a simple house cat.

Bolt might not be able to go much lower, but he still may have other records in sight. According to The Guardian Bolt is contemplating training for the long jump and there's been talk about him racing in the 400m. I can't wait to read about how Bolt has the potential to play in the NBA because he can essentially dunk from the three-point line.

Transcript of ESPN Radio from Yahoo! Sports
Usain Bolt targets long jump in bid for legend status - The Guardian
Usain Bolt Versus the House Cat - WSJ

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