According to science, the ideal height for a professional sprinter is around 6 feet. People assume that being 6 feet 5 inches tall, Usain Bolt should have an advantage thanks to longer strides but that’s not true.
So how is the Jamaican so fast? In fact, how is he the fastest man the world has ever seen?
Running fast is not about moving your feet faster or taking quicker strides. The trick is in taking bigger, more powerful strides.
Research reveals that an amateur sprinter takes between 50-55 steps to complete a 100m run but a professional takes around 45. In Bolt’s case, the number is around 41.
So you can’t be blamed for thinking that his height gives him the edge.
But his height doesn’t affect him in the middle of a race, it affects him at the start.
At the start of the race, a sprinter typically takes shorter strides as they help him to accelerate. But in Bolt’s case, that is not possible because of the length of his legs, and this results in him having sluggish starts in almost every race.
But once he reaches full throttle, it is the way he accelerates that makes him unbeatable. At full pelt, his strides become longer and much more powerful and that’s where he makes up for the bad start. On most occasions, by two thirds of the race, he’s won it.
That’s the theory part. The rest of it boils down to Bolt’s pure superhuman ability. He has more fast-twitch muscle fibres, which helps him generate more power in his strides. But it’s not just that. It boils down to natural ability.