How fast is Usain Bolt?

How fast is Usain Bolt?

The world's fastest man

Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world, but just how fast is he?

That's the kind of fact a sports engineer can work out!

The Beautiful Games exhibition at the V&A Museum of Childhood, London, has a box where people can post questions about sports science.

These questions will be answered by sports engineers on the Engineering Sport website. The sports engineers started by answering the question How fast is Usain Bolt?

How fast is Usain Bolt?

Usain Bolt is the fastest man on the planet. He's the world record holder in the 100 and 200 metre sprints.

We can easily calculate Usain Bolt's average speed. Speed is the change in distance over time.

We know how long it took him to run 100 and 200 metres, so we can work out his speed.


Distance (m)

Time (s)

Average speed (m/s)

Average speed (mph)

100 m sprint





200 m sprint





Those numbers only show Usain Bolt's average speed. They don't show his maximum speed.

Luckily, when Usain Bolt set his current world record at the 2009 Berlin World Championships, the International Association of Atheletics Federations collected lots of data.

The data on Usain Bolt showed that he reached at top speed of 12.27 metres per second, which is 27.44 miles per hour!

How fast is Usain Bolt compared to other land animals?

Other land animals are much faster than humans. Even a domestic cat beats Usain Bolt!

Graph showing Usain Bolt speed compared to other land animals

Cheetahs are the fastest land animals, with a top speed of 72 miles per hour. That's faster than the speed limit on UK motorways!

London 2012 Olympics

Will Usain Bolt beat his own world record again? We'll have to wait until the 100 metre final on August 5 to find out. We've got our fingers crossed.

This article has been adapted, with kind permission, from an article on Engineering Sport. To view the original article, visit How fast is Usain Bolt? Engineering Sport

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