Who is better in 200m? Michael Johnson or Usain Bolt

>> September 29, 2009

The greatest men in history require no introduction! Even if you are not a sports fan, you have probably heard their names being mentioned everywhere.

The likes of Jesse Owens, Bob Hayes, Carl Lewis, Michael Johnson, Maurice Greene, and even the latest superstar whose trademark "lightning pose" Usain Bolt is known to everybody.

The two athletes that go into my mind because of their enthralling performances, in the same event, are Michael Johnson and Usain Bolt.

These two are dissimilar in "many ways."

Johnson's physic is more of that of a long sprint, but Bolt's physic would give an advantage over the shorter sprint distances.

In terms of "time", Johnson's prime time has long been over, a decade ago, while Bolt is still gearing up and leveraging his "empire".

Back in the 1996 Olympics, Johnson shattered the world record in what was considered "a magic time" of 19.32s.

He broke his own world record (19.66s) by more than three-tenths of a second that he set in the U.S. Olympic trial a few weeks earlier.

The process of the record setting was not easy. Just like others, Johnson had to go through three rounds (heats, quarters, and semis) before his final 200m race. Prior to that, he took the Olympic 400m Gold in a time of 43.49s, in a new Olympic record.

But prior to that, he had to run three preliminaries rounds. In other words, Johnson had to run a 1.8km sprint prior to his 200m finals. Details as follows;

Michael Johnson in 1996 Olympics

400m Heats (26 July) - 45.80s
400m Quarters (27 July) - 44.62s
400m Semis (28 July) - 44.59s
400m Finals (30 July) - 43.49s - OR

200m Heats (31 July) - 20.55s
200m Quarters (31 July) - 20.37s
200m Semis (1 Aug) - 20.27s
200m Finals (1 Aug) - 19.32s - OR / WR

Meanwhile, Usain Bolt has gone through similar rounds in 2009 as Johnson (1996) but with the shorter total distance which covered much more less than Johnson with (only) 1.0km, before destroying his WR (19.30s) from the Beijing Olympics, with a time of 19.19s.

Comparison between Michael Johnson and Usain Bolt

1 - Distance - If you were to compare the process of getting to the "destination" (Johnson vs Bolt at 200m - times, golds, records), Johnson appeared in a more "disadvantage" due to the extra "sprint" distances he had to cover before commencing his world record campaign (see above).

When you have to run more races (heats, quarters, semis; multiple events), it taxes the body a lot (lactate accumulation, etc.). So you need better recovery in order to deal with this. Note that Johnson injured his hamstring right after the 200m (he withdrew from the 4x400m).

2 - Running surface or track quality. The track surface at Olympic Stadium at Berlin (where Bolt set 19.19) is called Polytan M  which is the latest and the best version of a track that ever been built. It is harder, thus, much more springy (better rebound) than the track surface (Mondo) at the 1996 Olympic stadium.

The Polytan M track at Berlin contains a three-layer synthetic surface that provides a better elasticity and energy return during every strike that occurs on the track, which can give an added advantage to a sprinter (i.e. Usain Bolt) every time he/she hit (strike) the track surface. This enables a faster sprinting to be achieved.

Furthermore, the IAAF has recently awarded a Class 1 Certificate to the Polytan M, confirming that the quality of the running track is truly outstanding.

3 - Sports science. There has been a lot of changes in coaching practice, as a result of "advancement" in sports science knowledge. This allows better training approaches and methodologies than that since 1996 or earlier.

Training methods change when there are new scientific findings related to training. More importantly, the new knowledge today is more easily disseminated and learned, because of technologies, the internet, etc.

The seminar/workshops are being organized more regularly, so understanding with regards to physiology and biomechanics is more easily captured - this will influence our coaching practice.

There are others. More stories will be discussed in the next posts.


Selangor Open Athletics Meet 2009

>> September 14, 2009

The Championships was held on July 11 - 12 at the MBPJ Stadium in Petaling Jaya, approximately 40km away from Kuala Lumpur.

Over 30 teams from various sports club, schools club, associations and institutions including the national athletes of MSN were taking part at the meet.



Usain Bolt breaks 100m world record with 9.58s to win 2009 World championships

>> August 17, 2009

What an electrifying night in Berlin!

Usain Bolt has broken the 100m world record with a time of 9.58s and won his first gold medal at the World Championship in athletics.

He eclipsed his own world record of 9.69s he set last year during the Beijing Olympic Games.

In contrast to the very popular "internet talk" (i.e., to win by his second half speed), the 6"5 Jamaican led the field right from the beginning; he reacted to the gun quickly at 0.146s - a standard reaction time by a world-class sprinter.

How would you imagine a 9.58s in the 100m? it's a phenomenon feat - one of the greatest sports performances and greatest improvements of a world record.

His clocked time was a "huge jump" in sprint timing from an "outstanding" (9.69) to a further level of "outstanding" - simply difficult to describe - maybe the history below can help!

Ben Johnson ran 9.79 in 1988 Olympics - this performance was annulled a few days later (anabolic steroid).

Carl Lewis's 9.92 had been recognized as world record when Johnson's 9.83 time (from 1987) was also deleted from the IAAF record book.

Lewis had renewed Leroy Burrell's world record of 9.90 with a 9.86 clocking to win the 1991 world championships - broken by Burrell again in 1994 with 9.85. 

Two years later, Donavon Bailey lowered the world record to 9.84 during the 1996 Olympics. 

During the world championships in 1999, Maurice Greene improved Bailey's world record by 0.05, with 9.79s - the largest improvement of 100m world record since 1968!

Then, Asafa Power set four world records from 2005 to 2007 with 9.77, 9.77, 9.77, and 9.74!

In May 2008, Usain Bolt "appeared" out of nowhere to break Powell's record by 0.02 at New York (9.72).

Two months later, Bolt renewed his record to 9.69 during the Olympics, despite his "showboating" and "chest slapping" at the last 20m of his race.

His time would have been faster - perhaps around 9.66? His split times seemed to suggest so.

Regardless of the story above, an improvement from 9.69 to 9.58 was unimaginable!

Bolt is impressive, he's relatively taller (1.96m) and muscular; he took 41 strides to complete his race, likely produced "optimal" stride length and stride frequency (combination; largely determine success in the 100m) as well.

The wind-speed was normal but favorable (+0.9 = ~0.045 advantage); the track is super fast (Polytan type); plus genetics?

In the final race, Tyson Gay was second at 9.71, renewing his American record by 0.06 - also phenomenon! 

Asafa Powell the four times world record holder was third in 9.84 - also impressive; a time that would win most of the past world championships.

What a race yesterday!


MASUM Withdraws from Universiade due to Influenza A Outbreak

>> August 08, 2009

There are thousands of confirmed deaths of the Influenza A H1N1 around Europe. There was also a widespread belief that participation in the World University Games (25th Universiade) in Belgrade, Serbia last month (1-12 July) would expose athletes and officials with the risks of infection. As a result, Team Malaysia opted to pull out from the biannual multisports event.

It's a great deal for me as my first chance of competing in the major sporting event - my first one in such a global meet - had been demolished by that decision. This news was known to me right when I turn on my TV after coming back from training. The headline reads "...MASUM withdraws from Universiade due to Influenza A outbreak..." Oh wow, hmm? was my first reaction. I was a bit upset and straightaway had a phone call with the guys in-charge, and no one knows about it! I was about to prepare to collect by team attire. It was just one day before a one-week final centralised training. I would have competed in the men's 100m and 4x100m.

Now we know that the Universiade was held successfully. As far as I know, no cases related to H1N1 were reported by the media in athletes or officials during the games. There were over 6000 athletes taking part in 15 sports, who represented at least >140 nations. Team Malaysia was scheduled to send a strong contingent of >30 athletes. The next edition is scheduled in 2011 at Shenzhen, China.


KUALA LUMPUR, June 18 (Bernama)-- The Malaysian Universities Sports Council (MASUM) has decided to withdraw from the World University Games (Universiade) in Belgrade, Serbia next month, following a directive from the Higher Education Ministry.

According to the Higher Education Ministry's Sports Division secretary Dr Shaharudin Ismail, the directive was issued to MASUM so as avoid any risk of the Influenza A(H1NI) outbreak.

Dr Shaharudin said the directive was in line with advise from the Health Ministry, National Sports Institute and National Sports Council to prevent athletes from the risk of being infected by the disease.

"Although Serbia is free from H1N1, the risk of infection remains high as the Universiade will see participation from all over the world and athletes will be exposed to infection," he told Bernama when contacted here today.
He added that MASUM would do the necessary procedures for the withdrawal and hoped the organisers of the Universiade would understand the reason for the withdrawal.

An earlier article in the newspaper...

The Universiade is an International multi-sport event, organised for university athletes by the International University Sports Federation (FISU) every two years and would feature university students from all over the world from July 1-12.

MASUM was expected to send 30 athletes to Belgrade in batches on June 24, June 28 and July 1 while selected athletes were supposed to check into the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) campus on June 20, for centralised training.

Yesterday, the National Sports Institute had also advised national sports associations against competing overseas after the World Health Organisation (WHO) raised the pandemic alert for Influenza A(H1N1) from level 5 to 6.

Source: Bernama


Usain Bolt's 100m Split Times for the 9.69s run in Beijing Olympics

>> June 06, 2009

You can't imagine that an athlete in the Olympic final would run a sprint finals so casually, and have won it with a gold medal, as well as a new world record! 

It has happened in 2008 Beijing Olympics, Usain Bolt did it! 

Although it was a new world record, by 0.03 s, Bolt could probably run faster than 9.69 s. 

The obvious reason is that he had stopped running at a distance of 80m, and was celebrating his victory. 

He reached the 60m mark at 6.32 s. The official world record for 60m (indoor) is held by Maurice Greene at 6.39 s.

You may be wondering, how fast can this man run if he runs maximum to the finish line? 

Some people say 9.63, and some believe it would be less than 9.6 seconds. 

 Let's take a look at the analysis that has been made.

Through this figure, you can see that a very significant decrease in the speed of Usain Bolt in the last 10m.

This concludes that, Bolt has lost a large velocity at the end of the segments (last 10m meters).

Of note, for top sprinters, men or women, the typical time reduction at the end (from the max speed) is around 3-4%, which is about 0.03s for the case of Bolt (fastest segment: 0.82 s).

Therefore, based on the available numbers, Bolt's 100m time that can be projected through this analysis is around 9.66 s.

However, what is more important to highlight is that Usain Bolt managed to maintain maximum speed for a relatively long distance *, which is 20-30m, very rare for world-class athletes.

But the question now is, how fast will Usain Bolt run in the world championships, in 2 months from now?

Note: * depends on the accuracy of the analysis.



To be updated




To be updated



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