I've just watched a quick highlights snip on the BBC showing Usain Bolt's amazing 100m (BBC / YouTube) and even more spectacular 200m (BBC / YouTube) races at the World Champs in Berlin this week.

This man is a flying machine, not a running machine. Take note of his times: 9.58 sec and 19.19 sec respectively. Notice something extra-ordinary? His 200m is only a fraction more than double his 100m time. I'd say once he's going, he's pretty much going at a constant speed for at least 160m of his 200m (assuming it takes him 40m to get up to speed). Imagine his times if he could take a running start to both races or even if he could keep this going for a full 400m.

Actually, come to think of it, if we did a very crude and overly simplified calculation we can probably guess what he's capable of over 400m:

First some assumptions:

  • He starts all events at the same speed and takes 40m to reach top speed
  • He maintains a constant speed (neigh on impossible, but we're looking at an ideal situation) for 360m of his 400m race
  • He only slows by 3 5 1/100ths of a second for every successive 100m

This would give him a time of 38:41 sec. He'd smash Michael Johnson's world record (43.18 sec) by nearly 5 seconds. He'd beat it even if we assumed he'd lose a whole second per 100m. Now that's impressive.

Sadly, I don't think he'll be moving up to the 400m any time soon, nor do I think he'd actually be able to attain such a time - he is a man after all, not a machine, but I'm certainly looking forward to his future races.