Usain Bolt: the Fastest Relay Split in 4×100?

Thanks to Pierre-Jean Vazel, he mentioned the Deutsche Leichtathletik-Verband  (or DLV) German Athletic Federation has released the splits for London 2012.

Men’s 4x100m Relay Splits:

  • Carter 10.28
  • Frater 9.07
  • Blake 9.09
  • Bolt 8.70

Was Usain Bolt the Fastest 100 meter split ever recorded in the 4×100 meter relay?

It was reported Usain Bolt’s Anchor Leg at the 2010 Penn Relays was 8.71 seconds.

At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Asafa Powell’s split time was recorded at 8.70 seconds by the USTAF High Performance Registered Split Analysis team.

Carl Lewis’ anchor leg at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics was 8.85 en route to a World Record of 37.40 seconds.  Bernard Williams also equaled this time with a 2nd leg backstretch run at the Edmonton 2001 World Championships.

“Bullet” Bob Hayes recorded a 8.5 second (hand time) 4×100 meter anchor relay leg at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics on a cinder track. Converted to FAT, that “translates” to 8.74 seconds.

And like Carl Lewis, Usain Bolt changes hands with the baton since he is right handed.

Women’s 4x100m Relay Splits:

  • Madison 11.12
  • Felix 9.97
  • Knight 10.33
  • Jeter 9.70

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
  • You can’t convert the 8.5 into 8.74. Such a conversion works when the timer reacts to a signal and anticipated a finish. In a relay, you can anticipate both start and finish as you can see the runner running through the start and finish zones.
    Bob Hayes’s 8.5 is obviously wrong as he made up 6m over guys like Polish Dudziak (10.52 FAT earlier in those Games), Jamaican Johnson (10.51). If 8.5 for Hayes, that means that those two would have run 9.0, which is unlikely. 9.5 would be closer to their potential, so that gives Hayes 8.9 at best.
    USSR coaches had their anchor leg guy in 9.6-9.7 and he was about 10.4-10.5 shape probably (he didn’t ran the open 100m). They had Bob Hayes in 9.1 (source Legkaya Atletika March 1965). Doing the maths, that would give Hayes 9.9 for an open 100m , which is about right as he did 10.06 FAT earlier in those Games.

    Regarding Beijing’08, this is what i wrote some times back: I was filming the race from the upper opposite crowd at 50 frames/sec with perfect view on the middle zone and the finish line, eliminating paralax issue and the time is between 8.67-8.69. (detail of the analyse: Time code for the gun 0.97-0.98, time code for Asafa passing the middle zone 29.39 or 29.40, time code for Asafa crossing the finish line 38.07.) The German team who ran the biomechanical analysis in Berlin WC’09 found 8.68 from TV analyse, and i saw a 8.73 somewhere in a forum which was used in the ATFS 2009 Annual, but it’s not accurate.

    • Nice to take the opportunity to talk to you at last. JP-Vazel. I like very much your biomechanical analysis and your works specially about Lemaitre. I follow the spanish biomechanisht Xavier Aguado who I think changes data with you.
      I take some of these advices and data in my blog where I’ve made some articles about biomechanichs in a lot of sports.

      I expect it likes you and and I am interesting about your workds in London specialy about the 100 meter phinal where unfortunately doen’t appear any official splits yet of the final contenders.

    • that’s exactly what i also think about Bob Hayes’s relay leg…

      but can you comment how the split times are like this, if you count them together you get 37,14 and 41,12 for women respectively. both teams ran their times exactly 0,3s faster…

    • On youtube i saw a video with Carl Lewis 8.80 leg and Bob Hayes 1964 leg side by side and Hayes beat Carl by about 2 meters end of story.

  • I am getting tired of hearing about adding “.24″ seconds to Bob Hayes’ 1964 anchor leg, to modernize it. You don’t have to add anything to it, because it is captured on video, and the frames can be precisely frozen to calculate his 100 meter segment. That is the most absurd statement which constantly surfaces. I also don’t appreciate all of the new prompts for training manuals, and other publications from outdated trainers. I don’t hold Hart or Tellez in that high esteem. For one thing, Hart’s de-emphasis on speed training for his 400 meter runners is bizarre. For another, Tellez could never teach Carl Lewis the nuances of a good start in the 100 meter dash. That is something which can be readily learned. Don’t say large men can’t master the technique. Powell is generally one of the fastest starters on the line, and he is 6’3”. His technique is superb, and it was learned.

    • To me, adjusted times by guys like Bob Hayes, Armin Hary, et al, should be even faster since they did not benefit from modern shoes or modern tracks! Could you imagine a race of the best of all time on an equal playing field?
      p.s. After the Lewis comments, I must agree with Mr. Bolt!!!!!!!!!

      • If Bob Hayes ran now, minus football and took it seriously London 2012 would be a different convo all together. He ran that time in a lane 1 after the marathon.

        p.s.Can someone get Carl Lewis to please just go sit down and stop talking already.

      • when i was in university i wrote a paper on effectiveness of chemical aids in sprinting. i got hold of some very old training regimes from the early 1960s and mid 1960s and the routines actually listed what to take and when. dianabol was a mainstay for males, and it was also the mainstay for footballers of the time. such a regime may be held up against the athletes of the 1970s and early 1980s, but it has to be considered a signfiicant aid when compared to sprinters of the 1990s and now. the potency and effectivenss of dbol is, in today’s terms, out of this world. Unabated progression of the event under 1960s measures should have athletes running regular sub 9.7s, but they are not. Every few generations we have freaks. when you even out the conditions and tech nologies, the freaks should come out about the same. Allow some time for Bob’s lane and conditions, then take some away for the training get the picture. Yes, i am saying that Bob’s seemingly phenomenal time could be attributed to the benefits of “training” at the time. In fact i have no doubt. but thats the way it is/was.

    • Nobody talks about how much faster London’s track is compared to Tokyo 1964 yet they always bring up the FAT. Let’s see the women’s 4x100m relay broke the World Record by .55 seconds which had stood since 1985. The American men broke the US record without Tyson Gay and Bailey, then crushed it by .36 seconds when they were added. Get one thing straight they are running on MondoTrack and Mondo is the King maker. Finally Hayes and Carl Lewis relay leg’s were super imposed on youtube and Hayes beat King Carl by 2 meter’s.

      • @Ron, yes, there is a lot of controversy with Mondotrack, but we’ll have to save that for another article. I have several interviews with Mondo and with experts in Track surfaces, so it will be an interesting discussion.

  • Dear Sir,

    You’re calculations are not right. 10.28 + 9.07+ 9.09 + 8.70 does not equal 36.84.

    The women’s relay splits are incorrect as well. The addition of the splits do not equal 40.82.

    Please correct immediately and notify me.

    Truly Yours,


  • Dear Sir,

    You’re calculations are not right. 10.28 + 9.07+ 9.09 + 8.70 does not equal 36.84.

    The women’s relay splits are incorrect as well. The addition of the splits do not equal 40.82.

    Please correct immediately and notify me.

    Truly Yours,

    Harsha Sankar

    • The times doesn’t add up because the times are for each individual 100m legs. They took the times for Carter when he crosses the 100m line, then when Frater crosses the 100m and the 200m lines, then when Blake crosses the 200m and 300m lines, then when Bolt crosses the 300m and the 400m lines. Since the runners doest cross those intermediate line as the same time (they give the stick in extending the arm), there’s a difference between the actual 4x100m time and the addition of individual 100m leg times.

      • Thank you for the reply.
        Split times can be deceiving. When Asafa Powell ran 8.70 in his leg at the Beijjing Ga, he was at full speed when he got the baton. When Usain Bolt ran 8.70 this past weekend, he was nearly still when he received the baton.
        I predict Usain Bolt will get new WR’s this year in both the 100 and 200 as long as he is not in the partying mode and as long as the weather and wind are reasonable. Look for a new WR in the 200 next week.

      • If the times don’t add up, then they are not relay split times, they are something else. As such, they cannot be compared to other relay split times that do add up.

        I looked on the DLV website and could not find any splits. Where did these come from? Also, any US 4 x 100 splits? Thanks.

        • Does anyone have the 100 meter splits for Usain Bolt’s 200 meter victory in the Olympics? I prefer 50 meter splits.
          Harsha Sankar

  • All interesting comments. I am sure we would like to see all the all time great sprinters compete against each other with equal shoes and track conditions. Bolt, Powell, Carl Lewis, Bob Hayes, Jessie Owens, Jim Hines, Linford Christie, Eulace Peacock, Ralph Metcalfe, etc.
    My personal top three, given all had their best starts, and run their best race-1. Bolt, 2. Hayes, 3. Carl Lewis.

  • Sorry if I don’t believe Hayes ran his leg in 8.74 seconds. The problem with the “hand timed” 8.5 is that I couldn’t find anything written before the Beijeing games that list that time. From reading about him in the late 90’s I’ve always heard that he was timed at times ranging from 8.6-8.9. There was a video that had his anchor leg, and Carl Lewis’ from 1984, and while I couldn’t tell who was faster, he certainly 2 meters faster. Fact is Bolt has a best time of 9.58, and Powell’s 9.72. Hayes’ best time was 10.05. No one finds it suspicious that his anchor leg was supposedly around the same time as two guys that ran much faster times. Also he didn’t run on tracks as good as the guys now, but that can only explain so much. Let’s say there was a man now who ran a 10.05, and did it on a track like the one Hayes ran on. Let’s say this guy clearly didn’t have the best sneakers, or uniform for sprinting. If he turned professional with the best modern equipment. Who would bet on him running a 9.58? I wouldn’t.

  • Lewis brings up a reasonable argument, that it’s unlikely someone who’s running a max 10.05 is going to dip too far below 9 seconds in the relay split. And, superimposing the youtube videos is a rather inexact calculation method–particularly given that we’re talking about hundredths of a second here.

    Without the FAT data, there’s no way to know what Hayes’s split was. I’d love to see some kind of statistical translation from cinder to the modern track. My guess is we’re talking about no more than .1 to .15, optimistically leaving Hayes at around 9.90 for his Olympic 100M.

    Finally, I’d like to second Harsha’s request and see if we can get 10m or 15m splits. It would be interesting to see where Bolt’s times rank for 40 yards, 50m, and 60m. A few American football players claim they can beat Bolt at the 40 (hard to believe), and I wonder how Bolt’s first 60m times (9.58 and 9.63) stack up to Ben Johnson in the 1988 Games.

  • The first part of my remarks are for Lewis. You said, “The problem with the “hand timed” 8.5 is that I couldn’t find anything written before the Beijeing games that list that time”. Shortly after the Tokyo Olympics Jim Murray , who was a sports columnist for the Los Angeles Times, wrote an article about ‘Bullet’ Bob’s performance. The split times reported to him by timers ranged between 8.4 & 8.6, hand-timed. In one of Bob’s races which took place in the South, prior to Tokyo, he was timed in the 100 yd dash below the then current WR of 9.1. Some timers had him in 8.9 some in 9.0. Because of the politics of the time, the officials didn’t think that anyone outside of that meet would believe that time so they rounded it up. This man had the talent and only practiced for about 3 mo’s a year because of his football obligations. I think it a little closed minded to think that someone who has the capability can’t let loose and run an extraordinary race.
    Lewis said, “Hayes’ best time was 10.05. No one finds it suspicious that his anchor leg was supposedly around the same time as two guys that ran much faster times.” His 10.05 was on a dirt track, inside soft lane with borrowed shoes and he still ran a 10.05. His anchor leg was in one of the outer lanes that was still firm. Have you ever run on a dirt track before? Big difference between firm and soft. One last comment. I watched Bob run a punt return back, in full pads the length of the field and he burned everyone. He caught it near the sidelines near the 5 yard line, cut back to the opposite side of the field and ran down the sidelines. The announcers said that the whole run was about 12 seconds. He ran at least 120 yards. Did he have talent? oh ya! I don’t think Usain would be able to run away from Bob like he has everyone else. He may have beaten him, but not by much. Now if Bob had the resources and the right coaching, there may be different outcome to that race.

  • I too used to want to know the 100 splits and the other event splits until i realised i was pretty much interested in what the athlete’s top speed was- more than anything else. The arguments and valid points of everyone about where the split started and so on make it an imprecise measure. Top speed isnt. Sure, the acceleration and deceleration are interesting, but its still imprecise. At least for the use to evaluate relay runs. A much better discussion would be around precise measurements, like, for a relay, perhaps consecutive 10m splits?…last 10m, fastest 10m, etc.. Then theres no doubt..unless of course we use j.r. murieka’s wind/alt resistance conversion (which BTW seems to be a very conservative conversion these days)…and open another can of worms..:-)

  • Wittgenstein, the information you seek is on this page
    40m Ben 4.66, Bolt 2008 4.65, Bolt 2009 4.64
    60m 6.33, 6.32, 6.29

    Bolt 2009 went thru 40m in 4.64. Take off reaction time, leaves 4.49. 40 yards is approx 36m. Take off 40% of the 30-40 split (0.86) and you get about 4.15. It’s debatable whether any NFL player in history has run a 40 in 4.15. The official electronic combine record is I believe 4.24 by Chris Johnson and one other. I imagine there may be a handful in NFL history who could just about hold on to Bolt in the first 40. Over 20 yes I would take Bo (Jackson). Anything much further than that, goodbye!

  • hey all this talk about bob hayes hand time relay anchor heres the truth if he ran on todays running surface his time of 8.71 adjusted ran on a cinder track would of been 8.61 sec if you take acount that mondo tracks make run a tenth faster . therefore making bob hayes leg the fastest relay anchor of all time. period.

  • It is very difficult to compare performances from different eras because almost everything is different (tracks, shoes, amateurs vs professionnals, coaching techniques, number of preliminary rounds (and the fact that the best runners are today allowed to run only in the relay final which was not the case before 1983) etc.)
    As far as tracks are concerned, I once red the difference between a cinder track and a synthetic one could be estimated at 0.25 for 100m. In addition, it has to be noted Bob Hayes had a greater speed potential than the 10.04 he did in the Tokyo olympics final (hence the comparison between Bolt’s 9.58 and Hayes’ 10.04 to determine their respective anchor leg speed is, in my opinion, slightly biased). Indeed, with too much wind he ran a 9.91 in the semi-final. In the final, he was running on lane 1 which had been badly damaged by 10,000m runners. Furthermore, he was sprinting with borrowed shoes. With better conditions, more competition (ie against Jim Hines, Charlie Greene later on) and a few extra years of training (he retired from track & field at only 22), he most certainly would have been able to run slightly faster.
    Nevertheless, it is possible his fabulous relay leg time may be exaggerated although most chronometers in Tokyo did report hand times between 8.6 and 8.9. Hayes’s performance is considered by the ATFS to be the equivalent of 8.74 but there seems to be a consensus to estimate he probably was more in the vicinity of 8.80 to 8.90 (electronically speaking). I do believe Hayes would have been very close to Carl Lewis. Still, we have to remember Hayes was running on a cinder track (while Lewis was on synthetic ones). Hence, it would be a very close call between Hayes and Bolt on the anchor leg (on similar track conditions). Considering we only take the time and the quality of the track into account (and not all other variables explaining the progression of performances in the last decades) it gives a slight advantage to Bob Hayes, certainly one of the most talented sprinters of all time.