200m: Usain Bolt and Carl Lewis

Usain Bolt has recently won the gold medal in the 200m of Beijing Athletics World Championships, with a time of 19.55″, that is the 10th best ever time.

In the previous two posts, I wanted to highlight the size of the figure of Carl Lewis as a long jump athlete (here) and to compare both Usain Bolt and Carl Lewis as 100m sprinters (here). I want to recap here the following two graphics:

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

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

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

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

Recall the following lines from those two posts, on the long jump:

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 everygold medal today.

On the dash 100m:

[…] 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.

In this post, I want to compare Usain Bolt and Carl Lewis as 200m 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 ~950 200m times, focus on Carl Lewis and Usain Bolt.

Best ever ~950 200m times, focus on Carl Lewis and Usain Bolt.

In the previous graph you can notice that times in the 200m have significantly improved since the 80s and 90s. Usain Bolt is today way faster than Carl Lewis was in the 80s.

If we want to focus not on the best ~950 times, but in a similar amount of marks as in the long jump and the 100m above, we can just focus on all the times a runner has *ever* finished the 200m below 19.95, 190 times. Of those,

  • 26 times correspond to Usain Bolt (14%), and
  • just 7 to Carl Lewis (4%).

Compare that 14% of best times of Usain Bolt in the 200m with the 17% in the 100m. Despite his telling that the 200m is his preferred distance, his dominance of the 100m has been even greater. Anyway, compare that to the 30% of long jumps today (while he retired 18 years ago) of best long jumps of Carl Lewis.

In relation to Lewis, he retains 7 of the best 190 200m times (4%) while only 1 of the best 184 100m times… who would have suspected that? We tend to remember Lewis as more of a 100m sprinter and Bolt more of a 200m…

… and it seems that Lewis was first a jumper, then a 200m sprinter (despite of never holding the world record of any of those) and then a 100m sprinter. Whereas it seems that Bolt is a more distinguished 100m sprinter despite of what he likes best.

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2 Comments

Filed under Sports

2 responses to “200m: Usain Bolt and Carl Lewis

  1. I think Lewis had the long jump WR for a while (minutes) during the astonishing final in Tokyo against Powel.

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