Daily Archives: August 29, 2015

100m: Usain Bolt and Carl Lewis

Usain Bolt has recently won the gold medal in the 100m of Beijing Athletics World Championships, with a time of 9″79, that is the 34th best ever time.

In the previous post, I wanted to highlight the size of the figure of Carl Lewis as an athlete, but a long jump athlete. I want to recap here the following graphic:

Best ever ~180 long jumps, focus on Carl Lewis.

Best ever ~180 long jumps, focus on Carl Lewis.

Recall the following lines from that post:

Now, in 2015, 18 years later, of the best 184 long jumps ever (all those at or above 8.50m), 55 of those jumps (a 30%) correspond to Carl Lewis. I let you to qualify the feat.

The runs (100m and 200m) Carl Lewis did in the 80s would probably not win him any gold medal today; his jumps would still win him almost every gold medal today.

In this post, I want to compare Usain Bolt and Carl Lewis as 100m sprinters. I will use as a source again the website with all time best performances in track and field (maintained by Peter Larsson).

Best ever ~800 100m times, focus on Carl Lewis and Usain Bolt.

Best ever ~800 100m times, focus on Carl Lewis and Usain Bolt.

In the previous graph you can notice that times in the 100m have significantly improved since the 80s. Usain Bolt is today way faster than Carl Lewis was in the 80s.

If we want to focus not on the best ~800 times, but in a similar amount of marks as in the long jump above, we can just focus on all the times a runner has *ever* finished the 100m below 9″90, 187 times. Of those,

  • 32 times correspond to Usain Bolt (17%), and
  • just 1 to Carl Lewis.

Compare that 17% of best times of Usain Bolt today (while he is running) with the 30% today (while he retired 18 years ago) of best long jumps of Carl Lewis. That speaks about the size of the figure of Bolt as a sprinter but, again, speaks a great deal about the figure of Lewis as a jumper and also about the different evolution of both events.


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