Yohan Blake 200 meter splits (Why Blake will Beat Bolt)

I’ve been sitting on this article for months with hesitation.  Here is the preamble on why I never posted it (until today).

The problem with doing splits is you need extremely good video, preferably non-compressed HD quality, as well as the video of the starting gun showing the smoke coming out to start the timer.  You cannot use the sound of the gun.  Also, you can’t go on first movement, because it doesn’t factor in reaction time.

To refresh your memory, here is the race video on YouTube.

Everyone, including myself, talks about his poor reaction time.  If he had the same reaction time as his 100m performance in Daegu, he would have run 19.17 and broken the WR.

In Yohan Blake’s 19.26 200m run, the best I can come up with is 10.14 and 9.12, though some people think it’s closer to 10.20 and 9.06. No one knows for sure unless we get more video footage.

You can’t blame the starter as he was behind the runners, which is unusual, because he should be on the infield.  (I guess he didn’t want to get speared by the javelin throwers!)  However, there were speakers installed behind the blocks.

Also, Yohan Blake ran the race on a very wide track… almost a 125m curve/75m straight compared to most tracks being 116m/84m (see the runners compared to the Beijing track – photo below). He also had Lane 6 so the curve was not as tight compared to Lane 3 on a “standard” IAAF track. For Dimensions and Configuration of IAAF tracks, see Track Dimensions: How Many Feet is 400 meters?

Assumptions and Known Variables

Let’s cover some of the assumptions and known variables of the top four 200 meter races of all time:

  • slowdown – assume 1 sec acceleration out of blocks
  • Michael Johnson had a bad lane 3, AND stumbled on the 2nd step
  • For MJ, we don’t know his 1996 100m SB, only his PB
  • Bolt in Beijing ‘08… He slowed down before finish line in the 100 meters
  • Yohan Blake had a very poor reaction time
  • Yohan Blake ran the race on a very wide track, which should give a faster 1st half, but it didn’t

Comparing the Splits from Top 4 200 meter All-time


Michael Johnson 19.32, Atlanta

This is one of my favorite races, because he had a bad lane draw (Lane 3 instead of 6 with a sharper curve) and he stumbled coming out of the blocks.

He ran nearly all out for the first 100, within 0.03 of his PB for the 100m, and most amazing, he hardly slowed down for the 2nd half (0.08 slowdown)!  Talk about speed endurance!  Usain Bolt has a slowdown of approx. 0.35 sec for the second half, so we know Bolt is human after all.

MJ’s splits were 10.12 + 9.20 = 19.32, therefore Johnson still had the fastest second half ever recorded until Blake broke it with his 19.26

Usain Bolt 19.19 & 19.30

I think we’ve dissected Bolt’s 2 WR enough in previous articles, but it’s a shame he didn’t run through the line in Beijing for the 100m, to get a true idea of his 100m WR.

His execution is consistent.  Run the first half 0.30 slower than your 100m PB for the 1st half, and expect a slowdown of 0.35 sec for the second half. 

For Bolt 19.19 WR, which is almost “doubled his 9.58 WR”, you simply can’t double your 100m time to get predicted 200m time, even though “double your best 100m plus/minus 0.2 seconds” is the norm.

To determine your 200 meter potential from a 100 meter time, it’s really twice your speed reserve (using Bolt 09 = 0.34 for each 100m segment) plus your second half slowdown (0.35) that predicts your 200m time.

Yohan Blake’s 19.26

Yohan Blake admits he can beat Usain Bolt and set a new world record.  In fact, at a recent interview, he admits the instructions from Coach Glen Mills was “take it easy on the turn, and fly down the straight”.  And it was a short straightaway to boot (not the traditional 84m straightaway)!

MJ’s near even pace still surprises me (0.08 slowdown), but I have never seen a world class negative split until this race.  If you assume one second acceleration out of blocks, then he ran the 2nd half faster than the first (9.14 vs 9.12).

Some people think it’s closer to 10.20 and 9.06, which would make 9.20 vs 9.06, which is absolutely insane.

Blake’s “speed reserve” execution is similar to Bolt’s… run the first 100 about 0.30-0.35 seconds slower than your best 100m.

But his 2nd half split was the real shocker.

A negative split?

And you wondered why I initially though it was a timing malfunction?

Gone with the Wind

Wind and cross winds are always a factor in the 200 meters.  My pet peeve is the current method is not an accurate way to determine if tailwinds help a sprinter.  I covered that topic in Wind Assistance: Do Illegal Tailwinds help Sprinters?

Granted, in both of Bolt’s world records, he had a headwind, not to mention 4 rounds of the 100 meters and 3 rounds of the 200 meters.  We’ll have to see how 5 rounds of races (3+2) will affect these sprinters in a 200m, since each race is now reduced form 4 rounds to 3 rounds per race.

The Battle of Bolt and Blake

The 200 meters in London 2012 will be a very interesting matchup.  Most likely, they will have run 3 rounds (not 4) of 100m prior to the 200m.   It will not be a straight invitational final.  We know the strengths and weaknesses of Bolt and Blake based on the chart above.  So it will be a matter of Bolt regaining his form from 2009 and Blake “running down” his opponent.  When you are in front, you can run relaxed. 

Let the Games Begin!

Note the starter in this picture, but they did have speakers in the blocks.

Usain Bolt’s 100 meter split at Beijing 2008.  Compare that with the photo below of Blake & Dix.

From the 100 meter splits above and from Beijing, Yohan Blake’s race was a very wide track.

Jimson Lee

Jimson Lee

Coach & Founder at SpeedEndurance.com
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
  • Bolt’s 19.19 is superior for me. -0.3 wind and after the rounds of the 100m and 200m and I’m guessing 9.58 is pretty taxing on the CNS.

    • I agree this will be a fascinating race, should Bolt and Blake reach the finals injury free, or in peak shape. This will be a battle between an explosive power to weight athlete with perfect balance ( Blake ) and a tall, ‘racehorse’ athlete with an enormous stride, high kneelift and surprising leg speed. Logic would dictate that the 200m would favour taller runners like Johnson, Carl Lewis, Christie or Bolt as they come off the bend and power up the straight…but I think Blake has all the tools to cause an upset. Walter Dix, the kid from Panama or any sub 19.8 guy could also get in the mix.

  • I believe Bolts speciality was the 400m in his younger (teenage) years and split a 43 point in a 4×400 last seaon. While Blake split a 45.40 in his anchor leg while in HS at the Penn Relays a few years ago. With that being said I think both of them have exceptional speed reserve and in the 200m finals it will come down to who gets out the fastest in the 100m…and I believe that will be Bolt….because no one has pushed him in a 200m yet, I think when he’s pushed we will see things that our brain will have issues trying to comprehend.

    Blakes 1st 100m of his 200m was faster than Bolts however he had MUCH more competition in his 19.26 race than Bolt did in his 19.19. For Blake he was close to being tied with Dix at the 100m mark and Dix got the better start, when the race was over Dix still ran a blistering 19.53. Bolt however crushed the competition in his 19.19 race….no one was near him in the 1st – 50m much the less the 1st 100m and he ran that 19.19 by himself while 2nd place ran a 19.8x. I believe Bolt to be the best turn runner in the 200m and when he and Blake meet in the 200m, Bolt will get pushed on that turn like he has never been pushed before in his life….And when its said and done Blake will do sub 19.2……….and Bolt will cement himself in the history books and run a sub 19.1, just kissing the unfathomable 18.9x mark. The insane track and field times of the video game world will be brought into reality at London later this year……Grab your popcorn!!!!

  • great analysis and theory but all i can think of is Bolt did his WR after running rounds of the 100m and 200m. Not saying that Blake cant but I think Bolt’s speed is still superior and allows him to use less in prelim races and that will allow him to get to the final with fresher legs than everyone else. Bolt 19.06 Blake 19.42 just my crazy guesses lol.

  • Usain Bolt is phenomenal but not invincible,repeat not invincible and i suspect he will never regain his 9.58 form,i cant explain why but i think that was an out of this world performance.

    I have had the pleasure of being Jamaican,living in Jamaica, and being able to watch both athletes develop over time,and if anyone is to beat Bolt it will be Yohan,he was great in HS and has not shown any signs of faltering at the highest level,he is hungry,determined and resolute in his quest as long as he “keeps his head” i think once again he will rattle Bolt,who previously showed no weakness..my pick is YB all the way. Motivation is a hell of an Adrenaline and Yohan has loads of it..

  • Bolt was very tired when he made 19.19 and with -0.3
    Blake was relaxed when he made 19.26 with +0.7,whitout rounds in few days.
    Blake always have bad reaction time, hardly he can get less 0.200 in 200m.
    If Blake run very fast against Bolt in 200, Bolt will run until his limit that is probably 18.99-19.10.
    Bolt is training very hard, like in 2008 or 2009.

    I think that we go see WR in 200 by Bolt this year.

  • these guys will go down in history as the worlds greatest athletes ,if they run in london both injury free they will shock the world over the 200m ,Bolt is born a half lap specialist ,i dont think there is any human being who can beat this guy over 200m ,he is yet to be born ,blake will push him to another territory bt cant beat the superman,im not taking blake for granted bt for him to beat bolt its another hill to climb.

  • Yohan hasn’t run 100 and 200 m rounds in an Olympic event. his 200m win was just one race. In the Olympics he will have to 100 and 200m rounds that about will be about 5 races before the 200m final. Bolt know what it takes to run those rounds. The amazing thing to me is here we are talking about two guys from an island of 3 million with sup par training facilities who’s about to shock the world. amazing

  • While this comparison makes for good reading and building the rivalry, it’s only a comparison on paper. The facts are :
    1. Yohan has never beaten Bolt in any race or even come close.
    2. Yohan is a poor curve runner any if 10.12 is best he can do with a favourable lane draw and and a track tailor made for his type of running, he will be too far behind Bolt to mount any kind of challenge.
    3. When Bolt broke his records, he was never challenged, did it in negative wind plus, plus so on tired legs.
    4. The is nothing Bolt loves more than a challenge as demonstrated in races with is so called rivals; this season he is putting in the work and based on words out of Training Camp, he has already start to distance himself from Yohan.
    I think the world is in for a treat from Bolt this year and Yohan is playing his part as catalyst.

  • Just to be fair

    Please consider Michael Johnsons blistering 19.32 WR and how he obliterated all the runners (in the first 60m of the 200m)…..he ran a 10.12 for his first 100m…..Yohan ran a 10.14 I’m unsure how that is considered being a poor curve runner. Take Bolt out the picture (just for consideration) and thats either top 2 or 3 EVER in the fist 100m (considering that Dix appeared to have slightest of leads at the 100m mark).

  • i reckon blake has got to be juicing, such a 200m really out of nowhere???, against such a good 200m man in walter dix, just doest add up , on matter how much analysis is done

  • and i dont think either of these guys will win a double ie. 100 and 200 gold. i am really beginning to doubt jamaican athletes , and the “intangibles” ! regardless of methodology last seasons 100m final was a strange one! what happened to nesta carter . otherwise the 200 went to form.

    • Nesta Carter had cramp in the Daegu 100m final, but obviously recovered in time for the relay. The 100 did seem empty and noncompetitive with 8 of the 9 fastest men in the world last year not in the final (Blake being the exception). I predict Bolt will triumph in the 100 this year with a wind-adjusted time of ~9.60. Blake 2nd in ~9.70 and Powell 3rd in ~9.75 (wind-adjusted).

  • and i agree with jimson , michael johnson still the best , exactly for the reasons he gave! and his out and out consistency at major championships!

  • Before Olympics 2012 will be the Jamaica trials where both athlete will have to race against each other in the 100m and 200m. i will be there to witness those races…can’t wait. my prediction for both meetings: JA Trials – 100M Bolt 9.68 and Blake 9.79, 2012
    200M Bolt 19.1 and Blake 19.43
    Olympics: – 100M Bolt 9.54 and Blake 9.66
    200M Bolt 18.97 and Blake 19.24

  • the lane factor is important when you compare the 200m races

    MJ is smaller than Usain and actually prefer to be in lane 3-4; still an amazing race with a 9.2 second half

    Yohan Blake was in lane 6,with a runner pushing him on lane 5.

    Bolt already proved he can run fast 200m at will. Blake only had one amazing race, still need to reproduce the perfect race.

    we have been spoiled by these great races, the condition will still play a big factor
    wind, tempeartures, and time reaction will still be the major factor. I’ll favor Bolt, but Yohan is certainly the only man you upset the 200m icon

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drag_(physics)#Drag_at_high_velocity

    I might be naive, but if we assume that the power needed to push an object through a fluid increases as the cube of the velocity, and when we only take into account the air resistance of the last 100m, then these four best runs normalized to zero wind would be the following:
    Bolt 2008: 19.07
    Bolt 2009: 19.11
    Johnson: 19.44
    Blake 2011: 19.48
    With a 0.7 tailwind, both Bolt 2008 and Bolt 2009 would have run under 19.00s.

  • no matter how much science{ ie track and wind} one perceives to have an influence when running the 2. there are so many physical and intangible factors involved, the fact that if blake doubles up can he run rounds ? psychological pressure on bolt? . and arent we forgetting about dix and lemaitre! these guys are getting better too!

  • With all the facts aside, Blake has several things that Bolt does’nt ,his work ethic is above average, his desire is above average,his form is above average ,he has no pain barrier,and his heart is that of a lion. Bolt has seen what money can do and he may never return to his pre Beijing self.

    My take is that talent alone will not get you there but superior attitude,drive and desire,Bolt had it once and lost it, now in Blake thats what i see.

  • Your formula’s are great. But just keep in mind that when bolt ran that 200m he had gone through 3-4 rounds of the 100m and the same before the 200m. Also having a look at bolts 100m PB and 400m PB compared to Blake, Bolt having a greater speed reserve & great Speed endurance. I wouldnt jumped to the conclusion that blake is going to beat bolt

  • Bolt is just one amazingly great athlete, but I have doubts in his abilities to repeat at this OLYMPIC 2012. I am a Jamaican and my doubts in the 2009 World Championship for BOLT to break his 2008 Olympic records were in doubts, and he surprised me by breaking both, just great !!! On the other hand Yohan is Improving in LEAPS & BOUNDS, My predictions BOLT will win the 200m, YOHAN 2nd ,DIX 3rd, GAY4th, The 100m is a wide open affair I love all the Jamaican 100M RUNNERS wish them the best. My dark horse pick is NESTER CARTER for the 100m, A UPSET IS IN THE MAKING, It will definately not take a WORLD RECORD TO win the 100m. This is my stance. Bolt I wrote to you before, but too much partying i guess take away much of your zestiness, no offense!!! you said it “””A LEGEND””” PROVE ME WRONG!!! ONE LOVE MY BROTHER. An Athlete in my days at High Sch. I am hoping for the best in JAMAICANS Contingent to the Olympics

  • 100m bolt, blake ,gay……. 200m bolt ,spearman , lemaitre……u guys got it first here::::))))))….. gatlin as an ex ped user doesnt count for me…

  • having made those predictions .. i do think it will be difficult for bolt to double… asafa hasnt the “bottle”…gay is never 100% … but blake may just be ready to take over….nesta carter should be! but..why isnt he ????… lemaitre is my my man with an ace up his” slieve”…………….

  • IF everyone shows up with their ‘A’ game I can’t honestly see how Jamaica wont sweep the 100m. Gay is great but I’m unsure if he has sub 9.70 in his legs (he might, just unsure) . I think Gatlin has a very outside shot at getting the bronze but that would be from Powell as he cant take down Bolt nor Blake.

    As far as the 200m its a race for the bronze medal….NO ONE in the world other than Bolt and Blake has sub 19.50 in them & these 2 can both put down a sub 19.20 is the weather allows.

    • @Norman, you are absolutely right on this one! I guess I was counting backwards from Lane 9. I am old school, where 8 lanes is the norm.

  • no matter what lane jimson ,your work is excellent.. (regardless of smartass comments )…. note the top3 200meters …bolt, blake lemaitre(cold weather london)….come 2 weeks the weather and climate will have an influence..even on how guys warm up !!!!!!…if bolt is carrying a niggle it will affect performance……

  • note i believe ..there is a guy called ramil guliyev..who if he puts it together..could cause a few ripples……hmmmm

    • @radunga – I can get a translator for your article,and post the English version, referencing your original article, of course!

    • @shane, yeah, I feel bad. Real bad. Maybe I should quit SpeedEndurance and write about things I know about. Should I call on the US election and say Obama will win the re-election?

  • I never understand the meaning of messages like the Shane one. There are many forms to say the things.
    It’s quite a child attack someone saying his predictions are wrong. Unfortunaltely there aren’t many webs like this and Jimson Lee is a guru in this field. Continue like this, Lee!
    I am other who had been waiting a close 19,26 mark from Yohan Blake but his build is completely different from the last year with almost 7 kgs of pure muscle added onto him. More explosive power for the 100 meter but a little few frequency in the 200 meter.
    So, must I feel like an idiot too? And the other 6700 visitors who come daily to this page?

  • The theme is that to bet against Bolt when he is a wonderful runner in the championships is very very dangerous.
    It was very sure that Bolt lost in trials by his injury, and if he got 9.76 -0.1 end of May, it is really AMAZING.
    I doubt so much that i see a time like it in the next 20 or 30 years in May hehe.
    The next year probably the pression of Blake will get that Bolt break his WRs hehe

    • @Frank, if Bolt was guaranteed to win every time, then Track would be boring as non-track fans would just want WRs and walk out after the 100m Final (as they did in London!). It’s head-2-head match ups that matter, the competition, the pressure, the choking, that’s what sports (and track) is all about. It’s about everyone doing their best, not just Usain Bolt.

  • Jimson, i dont tell that Bolt win always all years.
    I tell that if he is not injuried and he is young yet, he will win probably.
    Of course he has every year more and more years, and his shape will be worst in few years.
    No runners that run always that same level all the life hehe.
    But the next year if he is healthy and good shape, nobody will can defeat him.
    But in 2014 he will not train 100%(like in 2010)and in 2015 and 2016 his level i think will not same that now.

    So boring?NO, we are lucky can to see BEST Bolt these years, in few years he will have 30 and his level will not be same.

    I hope Jimson that you understand my point of view ;)

  • We have to do our best to ignore the ‘Shanes’
    out there by not even responding to their posts. Jimson, my friend, you have one of the best sites around. Thank you. And even though we may respectfully disagree there are a ton of valid points that I believe should and are taken into consideration