The world’s fastest man would have a hard time keeping up with the world’s fastest runners on four legs.
According to a recent article in Veterinary Record by Craig Sharp, of the Centre for Sports Medicine and Human Performance at Brunel University, Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man, couldn’t outpace a cheetah, greyhound, or pronghorn antelope–even if all three were chasing him.
Bolt set the world record in 100 meters in 2009 with a time of 9.58 seconds. A cheetah would cover 100 meters in 5.8 seconds.
And it turns out that Bolt isn’t even the fastest on two legs. That title goes to the ostrich, which tops out at 40 mph, whereas Bolt only hit 23.4 mph at his absolute fastest.
In a cross-species contest, cheetahs, with their maximum speed of 64 mph, would easily take gold. Pronghorn antelope (55 mph) and greyhounds (43 mph) would snap up silver and bronze.
Where do humans rank in the speed game? We’re just ahead of dromedary camels, which can sprint up to 22 mph.
But while the fastest of us could outrun a camel for a while, over distance we’re beat. Camels can maintain 10 mph for more than 18 hours. (The world’s fastest marathoners can run about 13 mph for two hours but would slow significantly over 18 hours.)
In the water, it’s no better. With a swim speed of 67 mph, the sailfish would easily leave both Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps in his wake.
“Citius, Altius, Fortius (Faster, Higher, Stronger) is the Olympic motto,” Sharp writes. “But if we allowed the rest of the animal kingdom into the Games … we could not offer much competition.”
However, there is no doubt that in an inter-species Games, humans would have synchronized swimming locked up.
Photo by Malene Thyssen via Wikimedia Commons