Chemistry and Sport

Usain Bolt is the fastest human on Earth with a personal best of 9.58 seconds in the 100 metres sprint. Bolt holds the second fastest time of 9.63 seconds, the current Olympic record, and set two previous world records in the event. In the 200 metres, Bolt's personal best of 19.19 s is the world record. This was recorded at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics in Berlin against a headwind of -0.3 m/s. This performance broke his previous world record in the event, his 19.30 s clocked in winning the 2008 Olympic 200 metres title.

Bolt has been on three world-record-setting Jamaican relay teams. The first record, 37.10 seconds, was set in winning gold at the 2008 Summer Olympics. The second record came at the 2011 World Championships in Athletics, a time of 37.04 seconds. The third and current pending world record was set at the 2012 Summer Olympics, a time of 36.84 seconds.

Bolt holds the 200 metres world teenage best results for the age categories 15 (20.58 s), 16 (20.13 s, world youth record), 17 (19.93 s) and 18 (19.93 s, world junior record). He holds the 150 metres world best set in 2009, during which he ran the last 100 metres in 8.70 seconds, the quickest timed 100 metres ever. He set Olympic and World records for the 100 metre, 200 metre, and along with his teammates, the 4x100 metre relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. These gold medal performances made him the first man in history to set world records in all three events at a single Olympics. Earlier in his career, "Lightning" Bolt distinguished himself with a 200-metre gold medal at the 2002 World Junior Championships, making him the competition's youngest-ever gold medalist and the first junior sprinter to run the 200 metre in under 20 seconds.

The current World record for the 100 m sprint is 9.58 seconds and the Olympic record is 9.63 seconds. These are over a second better than the time of 10.8 seconds run by a number of athletes in the 1890's and over two seconds better than that achieved at the 1896 Olympic Games, a dramatic increase in performance.

Usain Bolt100 m mens sprint records
Usain Bolt at the Mona track and a chart showing the times recorded for the men's 100 m sprint over the years.

What accounts for this increase in speed? Yellow yam or years of scientific research to monitor and devise the best methods of training??

Topics to be covered include:

General Health and Physique
WADA and Drug Testing
Drug Testing (continued) and Scandals

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Created July 2011. Links checked and/or last modified 28th November 2013.