Bolt 9.69 and the New Limits of Human Performance

Interesting to note how in a series of competitions over the last few months down to the rounds of yesterday and today’s final that the limits of human performance in the short sprints must unavoidably be reconsidered.

What, perhaps, even one week ago may have been considered to be unattainable in the next series of decades or perhaps much longer (ergo sub 9.6) , has, in two days, almost instantly become quite reasonable and, I think we’ll agree, generated a paradigm shift in the thinking of very bright and informed minds.

The, once again and momentarily unbelievable, sub-maximal nature of his effort on the 9.69 will inspire countless discussions and predictions until we see what he is truly capable of.

…and he only recently turned 22 years of age…

A new dawn is upon us.

Or an eclipse, depending on whether you’re in the audience or on the track!

An eclipse… well said Charlie.

I, as well as most of us I’m sure, are going to have to think on this for while.

Well the 9.92 and 9.85 were approximately 97.68% and 98.37% of the 9.69, respectively; and it’s clear that the 9.69 wasn’t close to 100% either…

At this rate, by 2012 his 75% might qualify for the B standard…

Yup. It’s something to think about!

People often talk about performance limits and records standing for 20 years…those limits are regularly surpassed. Didn’t Ben say something like “my record will stand for 50 years” after 87 or 88? I think that was in one of his biographies.

I would say there are no limits to human performance. For example in Hugh Morton’s prediction of male performance records he notes the following:
100m: 9.68 (2010)… then 9.47 (2040) then 9.15(ultimate)

Ultimate 200 is 18.15 and ultimate 400 is 39.33. These seem crazy but many never thought they’d see guys jump well over 29’ or women run 10.4.

It’s true, regarding the boundless limits, if Einstein (and others) were realizing less than 10% of the neurological capacity, than it might be within our lifetimes that the gun goes off, the athlete’s explode out of the blocks…

and land somewhere just beyond the finish line.

Now the considerations become reaction time, explosive strength of leg and hip extensors, and…aerodynamics

Well 75% is 12.92 but the idea of running tempo in 13s is just incredible. 2000m at 13s pace. That’s like a 400m workout! Think about it the last 100m needs to be sub12 he can probably do 13s over and over again!

Yes, my tempo comment was a joke (although after today maybe not).

However, the fact that he was doing something short of jumping jacks the last section of the race, and finishes in 9.69, when the rest of the fastest men in the world are holding on to max V for dear life is a mind bender.

So true. Speed reserve anyone…

I want to see him break the 200m WR then train for 1 year for the 400m and take it apart as well.

I suspect that is within his grasp.

would be great to see MJ’s records blown away,the sooner the better

Well one things for sure the current 200m wr holder was shocked with the performance, MJ is ready to “kiss” the 200m record good bye.

He will. He went up the high school ranks as a 400m runner. And ironically, as we all know, he picked up the 100m to work on his “speed endurance” for the 200.

All in all, this guy is an all-around sprinter.

Should he decide, in time, to pursue the 100, 200, and 400, in the same calendar year, the decision would lend itself to some very interesting methodological approaches.

He would have to move S-to-L as in this year- and he’d need a long summer to get in the 400s.


It was hardly a helpful or constructive post was it?

Lets try to get the conversation back to somewhere a little more constructive :frowning:

Originally Posted by James Smith
Should he decide, in time, to pursue the 100, 200, and 400, in the same calendar year, the decision would lend itself to some very interesting methodological approaches.

Originally Posted by Charlie Francis
He would have to move S-to-L as in this year- and he’d need a long summer to get in the 400s.

Lets imagine for one moment that over the next three-and-a-half years Bolt continues to improve to such a degree that he has .15 advantage over his nearest rival over 100m; .5 over his nearest rival at 200m; and has by now broken the 400m world record and has .7 over his nearest rival at 400m (all reasonable gaps if he is running 9.55/19.00/42.5). If he decided to run the 100/200/400 treble at the 2012 London Olympics and the organisers acommodated his wishes (the athletics is over 10 days from August 3-12) by adjusting the timetable as follows:
Day 1- 100m 1st rnd/100m 2nd rnd
Day 2- 100m semi/100m Final
Day 3- 400m 1st rnd
Day 4- 400m semi Final
Day 5- 400m Final
Day 6- 200m 1st rnd/200m 2nd rnd
Day 7- 200m semi
Day 8- 200m Final
Day10- 4x1 and 4x4 Finals

Assuming that the Jamaican Athletics Federation do not ask him to qualify in all three events at their trials, what would be his best approach? For example:

  1. Short-to-Long?

  2. Which events should he decide to tackle at the trials (obviously depending on whether he goes short-to-long or long-to-short)?

  3. Would the SPP (or possibly even GPP) need to be slightly lengthened or would it remain the same?

  4. In which order would he need to race as his season progresses (e.g. early season more 100/200 later and closer to the games 100/400)

  5. What adjustments would need to be made in 2011 to set him up for 2012?

  6. Would he have to move from a triple periodized year (if he currently does?) to a double periodized year?


  1. No

  2. Would it make any sense at all? No.