Why is Usain Bolt so incredibly fast?

3 October

There’s certainly no one single factor. Culturally, athletics is as popular in Jamaica as football is in Europe, and competing in the Inter-Secondary School Boys and Girls Championships – or ‘Champs’ – which attracts 35,000 fans is great practice for sprinting under pressure. Because of that, the standard in track and field is very high in Jamaica and the rewards are great: an athlete can earn a US college scholarship.

Physically, Bolt is gifted. His height hampers him at the start because it takes him longer to get out of the blocks, but once he’s up, his long strides come into play. He takes fewer steps that his competitors. He’s also one of two sprinters in history – the other being US 100m athlete, Tyson Gay – who are still accelerating at the 70m mark. Most sprinters begin to slow at 60m. That strength comes from his teenage training when he competed in the 200m and 400m. The longer races made him physically robust and gave him speed endurance, a factor that creates the optical illusion that Bolt is speeding up at the very end of a race when his rivals are actually slowing down at a quicker rate.

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