Usain Bolt 10 meter splits, Fastest Top Speed, 2008 vs 2009

On Monday, I posted Usain Bolt’s 20 meter splits courtesy of the IAAF.

Another biomechanical report has come out with 10 meter splits.  You can download the official document here (PDF)

But First, the Disclaimer

When you want to lose or gain weight, you should always weigh yourself with the same scale, the same time of day, with the same amount of clothes.  It doesn’t matter if the scale is off by 5 lbs or 2kg.  What matters is the same method of measurement is used.  It is the relative change or displacement you are comparing.

That being said, you should not compare the new IAAF Scientific Research study and compare that to previous results from other sources.  What would be ideal is the same group of Scientists performing the same analysis on major future events.

But we’re all armchair quarterbacks, right?

That being said…

Usain Bolt 10 Meter Splits and Top End Speed

These analysis are fun to determine (1) where he improved in 2009 with his limited training (i.e post Beijing commitments, car accident) and (2) where he can further improve, preferably in Zurich next week where I am sure meet organizers are collecting Swiss Francs to pay him if he runs under 9.58.


Variability, Contradictions, etc…

A couple of alarming things spring out when you present all the facts on the same page:

  1. Note the difference in the 2 reports for his 60 meter split 6.31 vs. 6.29.  The 20m split also varied between 2.88 and 2.89.
  2. His start appeared better than Beijing from the video, but you couldn’t tell that by the stats from the 10m or 20m splits.
  3. The first study showed a 0.805 average 20 meter top speed (60-80m), the second study showed a 0.81  (60-70m) top end speed.  In any case, he still produced the fastest split ever recorded. 
  4. Other factors include wind speed, track surface, altitude and so on.

Slice and Dice all you want – Is Bolt really better than Beijing?

Another factor for the time differences was the wind speed.

So in  2008, his 9,69 without the chest thump could be extrapolated to 9.64 or 9.63 or even 9.62 (assuming a 0.83 last 10 meters)

If the wind in Berlin was 0.0, then that could be “converted” to a 9.62 according to Jonas tables?

Hmm, 9,62…

Does that the mean Bolt is roughly the same fitness as last year, but with a different execution of each race?  

More importantly, how did he improve his top end speed (0.81 sec/10m, or even 0.805 sec/10m) given the past year conditions?   (I gave clues in the previous article)

The wind?

Perhaps.  We know wind is a factor… just look at Tyson Gay’s 9.68 (+4.1) 0.80 sec/10m from the 2008 USATF Olympic Trials.

Final Thoughts

Does he have anything else to give?  How much will he earn if he breaks the WR in Zurich?  We all remember last years post-Beijing race 100 meter race.  He still won, but not in the same way he won Beijing.  Something can be said for Championship electricity and multiple rounds.

How much does 10 races in 8 days take out of your legs, both physically, and more importantly, neuromuscularly?

Stay tuned…

Jimson Lee

Jimson Lee

Coach & Founder at
I am a Masters Athlete and Coach currently based in London UK. My other projects include the Bud Winter Foundation, writer for the IAAF New Studies in Athletics Journal (NSA) and a member of the Track & Field Writers of America.
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee
  • So his 50 and 60 meter splits were faster than the indoor world records. Will we possibly see him duck indoors over the winter to give a go at these records? Also, if you take 64% of his 30-40m split and add it onto his 30m cumulative split and deduct his reaction time you have a 4.18 40y time.

  • Prior to Bolt’s Berlin run I inadvertently guessed his winning time in that race by
    amending the result from his win in Bruxelles on the 5th September 2008
    to a positive wind assistance reading, approximately +1.0m/s. Note that 9.77 seconds against -1.3m/s wind is approx. equal to 9.58 with +1.0m/s wind.
    I have also estimated his best ever 100m time by taking his best 10m splits from Beijing & Berlin, also including what could be his best ever legal start (0.100secs), & then I have taken off 0.01secs for each of his best splits to allow for future improvements, & I have come up with the following times.
    If the wind were in the range of 0.0m/s to +1.0m/s, the splits would be-

    10m 1.79
    20m 2.77 (0.98)
    30m 3.66 (0.89)
    40m 4.50 (0.84)
    50m 5.32 (0.82)
    60m 6.13 (0.81)
    70m 6.93 (0.80)
    80m 7.74 (0.81)
    90m 8.56 (0.82)
    100m 9.38 (0.82)

    If the wind were at the maximum +2.0m/s, the splits would be-

    10m 1.79
    20m 2.76 (0.97)
    30m 3.64 (0.88)
    40m 4.47 (0.83)
    50m 5.28 (0.81)
    60m 6.08 (0.80)
    70m 6.87 (0.79)
    80m 7.67 (0.80)
    90m 8.48 (0.81)
    100m 9.29 (0.81)

    I speculate that although he may never run a 9.29, he will run into the 9.3’s electronic.
    I say.. watch this space!!!


  • i wanna see someone break the 9 second barrier before i die aka god willing within the next 60, possibly 70 years. too much of a stretch? bolt has given a new energy to track and field with possibly better young athletes getting into it because mainly the new success and attention bolt has brought to the sport. not to mention the new financial aspects that come along with it in recent years. i wouldnt be terribly surprised to see some great new athletes come out of nowhere challenging bolts records in a few years

  • all things being equal, its generally a theme that as athletes mature, and as they stay at the top of their game, they can squeeze out another 0.1s improvement over the 100m in their twenties. Give Usain a 2m/s wind and we could expect a sub 9.4s electronic time some day in the next 5-8 years or so. legal that is. his 9.58 wasnt really a surprise for those who expected an improvement considering he was still learning the race, plus the bit of wind behind him, and without the celebrating, yet lots of people went ga ga about it. If he doesnt go sub 9.5 electronic I’ll be disappointed- as to me he wouldnt have fulfilled his potential. injury or circumstance could only rob him of that kind of achievement. The real achievers are those who have been seemingly stuck at 9.9 or 9.8x and now have improved considerably. if they can do it, surely bolt can..maybe they have better work ethic?…either way some of the top guys have improved well beyond the 0.1s that usually accompanies the elite guys at the top-over many years.

  • i think it is possible to see bolt run a sub 9.5 sec 100m he just has to try harder and stop slowing down at the end of the race!!!

  • the ten meter splits for Beijing are different on, they are 1.70, 1.00, .90, .87, .85,.84,.82,.83,.85,.86, I would lean toward the splits here, because the Bolt’s celebration would have had more of an effect on the last 10 meter split, as shown with the .90 90-100 split here, but why are the numbers so different