Usain Bolt, the Jamaican track phenom, sprinted to a second straight Olympic gold medal in the men's 100-meter dash at the London Olympics on Aug. 8. The astounding feat etches Bolt firmly in the record books of track and field history by becoming only the second man, along with American Carl Lewis, to win the gold medal for the 100-meter race in consecutive Olympic Games. More importantly, Bolt set the new Olympic record for the 100 meters by clocking in a blazing fast speed of 9.63 seconds.
Through his sensational performance in the 100-meter race, Bolt effectively silenced any further discussion about who the world's fastest man is -- at least for the time being. There are men who have beaten Usain Bolt in the 100-meter dash in the past, and they will have opportunities to do so again in the future. It is clear, however, that there are many things on this planet that can travel 100 meters much faster than any human being, including the great Usain Bolt. As speedy as the fastest man on earth can run, when we take a look at human ingenuity, machines, and nature itself, we realize that mankind might have more in common with Darwin's tortoises than with the fastest creatures in the world.
The top 10 things on the planet that could beat Usain Bolt in a 100-meter race:
1: Cheetah: The world's fastest land animal would make Bolt look like he was running in quicksand. Cheetahs can run at a top speed of close to 70 miles per hour, but, more importantly, they can accelerate to 60 miles per hour within 3 seconds. A South African rugby player, who is considered one of the fastest in all of sports, raced a cheetah in 2007, and after being given a 30-meter head start, the result was close. Safe to say even Usain Bolt would not be faster than a cheetah in a flat 100-meter race, with or without a 30-meter head start.
2: John Force's NHRA Ford Mustang Funny Car: Fifteen-time NHRA champion John Force can clear a quarter mile in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Funny Car in 4.7 seconds from an idle starting position. To put that speed in perspective, a quarter mile is equal to 402.336 meters, meaning that Force would win four consecutive 100-meter races in less than half the time Usain Bolt could finish one.
3: Yohan Blake: Bolt's teammate on the Jamaican Olympic track team has already beaten him twice. Most recently, the 21-year-old Blake beat Bolt in the 100-meter at the Jamaican Olympic trials by running 9.75 seconds to Bolt's 9.86. This only proves that Blake is capable of beating Bolt -- that he has and could, not that he will. The potential is there, giving rise to the famous declarative question: "So you're sayin' there's a chance?"
4: Peregrine Falcon: One of the fastest birds known to man, the peregrine falcon can swoop at speeds of 200 miles per hour. By contrast, scientists estimate that Bolt runs approximately 28 miles per hour, meaning a peregrine falcon could swoop by Bolt in a flash, even after an initial 8-second climb.
5: I'll Have Another: The 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner runs at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, with an incredible initial acceleration. It is safe to say that Usain Bolt would not stand a chance against most any thoroughbred racehorse, especially a proven champion like I'll Have Another.
6: Arrow Shot From A Compound Flight Archery Bow: An arrow shot from a compound bow can travel at a rate of 300-feet per second, which equals approximately 200 miles per hour. A skilled flight archer can easily shoot an arrow anywhere from 300 to 500 yards. Since 100 meters is only about 110 yards, which is about 330 feet, the arrow would cross the finish line about 8 seconds ahead of Bolt. Funny, because Bolt's signature move is when he simulates drawing a bow and arrow back with an arc, sort of like a flight archer.
7: Tyson Gay: The Olympic sprinter from the United States is one of the few track stars to beat Usain Bolt in the 100-meter. Gay beat Bolt in Stockholm back in August 2010 by 0.13 seconds, running a 9.84 in the 100-meter race. Similar to Yohan Blake, Gay has the potential to beat Bolt, although actually doing it is the elusive factor. Nevertheless, Gay has proved it once, and for that fact alone he is worthy of consideration.
8: Spine-Tailed Swift: The fastest bird for flying in a straight line, the spine-tailed swift has been timed at speeds of 219 miles per hour. Even from an idle start, the aptly named swift would leave Usain Bolt in its vapor trails.
9: Greyhound: The world's fastest canine would smoke Usain Bolt in a 100-meter race. This particular breed of dog can actually run 100 meters in 4.97 seconds, meaning that even on a bad day a greyhound is still nearly twice as fast as Bolt.
10: Ostrich: This would be the race of the century if a savvy promoter could talk Usain Bolt into racing an ostrich. The odd looking bird is the fastest creature in the world on two feet, sprinting at speeds up to 43 miles per hour, and able to run a distance of 10 miles straight at 30 miles per hour. Ostriches reach heights of 9 feet tall, and their legs can reach 10 to 16 feet in a single stride. Bolt would unquestionably win on style points, but watching a decidedly non-athletic looking 300-pound ostrich tower over the 6-foot 5-inch Olympic gold medalist before leaving him in the dust in a 100-meter sprint would certainly be an event worthy of pay-per-view television.
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Steven Holmes is an enthusiastic fan of the Summer Olympics, and has attentively watched the last seven Summer Olympic Games.