Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the history of the world. The Jamaican sprinter is a three-time 100m gold medalist at the Summer Olympics. Bolt, who won his third title on Sunday night, is the first person ever to go back-to-back-to-back.
Usain Bolt has flattered with other sports before, saying he’d be up for a tryout with some Premiere League teams and receiving some interest from football teams, too. An Ohio State assistant jokingly tried to recruit Bolt on Twitter following his most-recent 100m victory.
A popular topic among football fans is this: how fast could Bolt run the 40-yard dash, the popular speed measuring tool for those in the NFL?
Former NFL head coach Brian Billick tweeted back in 2012 that mathematicians have estimated Bolt could run a sub-4.0 40-yard dash. The fastest 40-yard dash in modern NFL Combine history is by Arizona Cardinals’ running back Chris Johnson, who run a 4.24. Johnson, a former high school track star, has a personal best in the 100m dash of 10.38; Bolt’s best is nearly a second faster at 9.58.
Based on Bolt’s previous 100m times clocked at world championships, mathematicians estimate he would run 3.97 elec. #NFL style 40-yd. dash!
— Brian Billick (@CoachBillick) August 5, 2012
That seems to be a bit of a stretch, though.
Bolt has never been a great starter and doesn’t have elite reaction time (though reaction time doesn’t matter in a 40-yard dash as the clock doesn’t start until you start running).
FreeLap estimates Bolt’s 40-yard dash time would probably be in the 4.1 range, though a sub-4.0 time is possible.
Adding 0.571 to the 3.63 time segment to get a 40 yard dash running time is about 4.20, and that includes no reaction time subtraction of the timer from the combine. While it hard to know what the true reaction time of the timer is, conservative estimate is about 4.10 by removing 0.1 or a tenth. If the timing was completely hand time, meaning a stop watch, removing the accepted 0.24 from 4.20 would equate to about 3.96, or a sub 4, a level no football player would match. All of this is accepting that the same fast track surface, spikes, and blocks are used. What about other surfaces, footwear, and starting without blocks?
The three variables may decrease the performance of Usain Bolt slightly, but one counter is the fact that no sprinter is specializing in the first 30-40 meters only, and if so that would likely offset the performance slightly, perhaps neutralizing the blocks. For argument sake I will add in a few hundredths, but still, a sub 4 second performance is possible with hand timing on a non-grass surface.
How fast do you think Bolt could run the 40-yard dash?
Bolt is set to run in the 200m final at the Olympics tonight. Like the 100m dash, he’s attempting to win the event for the third straight Olympics.