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Usain Bolt of Jamaica holds the world record in the 200 meters (19.19 seconds), a mark he established in 2009 in Berlin.

Rio 2016: What to expect from Usain Bolt in the men’s 200 meters

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Usain Bolt of Jamaica holds the world record in the 200 meters (19.19 seconds), a mark he established in 2009 in Berlin.
Usain Bolt of Jamaica holds the world record in the 200 meters (19.19 seconds), a mark he established in 2009 in Berlin.

Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest human, won the Olympic 100-meter sprint for an unprecedented third straight time on Sunday night.

Since the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal, the average gold medal-winning time in the 100-meter sprint has been 9.906 seconds.

Remove Bolt’s victories in Beijing (9.69 seconds in 2008, a world record at the time) and London (9.63 seconds in 2012) and that rises to 9.97.

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Bolt’s final time of 9.81 seconds was 0.08 of a second better than his closest rival, American Justin Gatlin.

Days away from turning 30, it was reasonable to expect Bolt to finally slow down, but his 100-meter time shows he is one of the greatest athletes of all time.

And his dominance should continue in the men’s 200-meter dash later this week.

Bolt holds the world record in the 200 meters (19.19 seconds), a mark he established in 2009 at the Berlin world championships, and has consistently stayed on pace when competing in both the 100- and 200-meter events.

During the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, Bolt won gold at 100 meters with a final time of 9.69 seconds, which projects to a time of 19.38 seconds in the 200-meter event. He won gold at 200 meters in 19.30 seconds. Four years later in London, Bolt won gold at 100 meters with a time of 9.63 seconds and again at 200 meters with a time of 19.32 seconds, just a few hundredths slower than his projected pace (19.26 seconds based on 100-meter pace).

If history is any guide, Bolt should run the 200-meter race in roughly 19.62 seconds, almost a half-second faster than Gatlin’s bronze-winning mark at the 2004 Athens Games, the last time Gatlin competed in this event at the Olympics.

Bolt also needs to hold off LaShawn Merritt, one of four men in history to have broken 20 seconds for the 200 meters. However, Merritt has yet to run that distance in the Olympics, and his personal best at 200 meters (19.74 seconds) is still more than four-tenths of a second slower than Bolt’s best (19.3 in 2008 and 19.32 in 2012).

It’s hard to bet against Bolt in the 200-meter event, but gold isn’t the only achievement he is looking to unlock in Rio. He also want to break his own record and establish a sub-19 minute mark at the distance.

“I really want it,” Bolt said. “I really, really, really want that one. I always wanted to run sub-19 (seconds).”

It’s not completely out of the realm of possibility, but it won’t be easy.

When Bolt set the 100-meter record in 2009 in Berlin, he peaked at almost 28 mph, covering the 60 to the 80-meter mark in 1.61 seconds. However, it’s much tougher to carry that speed over a longer distance. His record-breaking time of 19.19 seconds in the 200-meter event translates to 22.48 mph, and he would need to average 23.6 mph to run the distance in less than 19 seconds. One study from Southern Methodist University in Dallas found that humans could physically run as fast as 35 to 40 mph, so perhaps an extra 1.12 mph for Bolt isn’t out of the question.

Using Bolt’s best 200-meter times since he broke the record in 2009, an average of 19.51 seconds, gives him a 0.8 percent chance, or 131-to-1 odds against, at running a sub-19-second 200-meter sprint.

“I think if I can get a good night’s rest after the semifinals I think I could [break the record]”, Bolt told reporters. “So I’m going to go out there and leave it all on the track. Come 200 finals, I’m just going to run as hard as I possibly can and do as good as I possibly can. And hopefully I get the record. That’s the thing I really want.”

Source by: The Washington Post

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