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How fast are Our Olympic Athletes?

September 30, 2011

First we have to calculate the speed or velocity of an athlete.

Event distances are recorded in m (The Olympic Games uses the Metric system) and time in minutes, seconds and 1/100ths of a second except cycling where 1/1000ths of a second are recorded.

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Here is Usain Bolt creating a New World Record for 100m in Berlin 2009. You may as well watch. It will take less than 10 secs.


We are going to use current Olympic Records to calculate the average speed of Usain Bolt, the fastest man on earth:

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But we are more familiar with km per hr (kph) so we will convert from m/sec to kph:

Some in the world use mile per hr (mph) so one more conversion:

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Maths Exercise:

Here are some current Olympic Records, which students can use to calculate average speeds in m/sec then convert these speeds to kph (See chart in the following post for answers);

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1. 100m M Sprint 9.69 sec Usain Bolt Jamaica

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……………………………………………………………..

 

2. 100m W Sprint  10.62 sec Florence Giffith-Joyner  USA

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3.  100m M Freestyle    47.05 sec   Eamon Sullivan Australia

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4. 100m W Freestyle  53.12 sec   Britta Steffen Germany

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5. 1500m  M Freestyle   14.38.92 mins Grant Hackett Australia

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6. 200m  M Butterfly   1.52.03 mins   Michael Phelps   USA

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……………………………………………………………..

 

7. 200m  W Butterfly    2.04.18  mins    Lui Zige  China

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8. 1,500m M Track   3.32.07  mins     Noah Ngeny  Kenya

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9. 1,500m W Track  3.53.96 mins   Paula Ivan  Romania

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10. Marathon 42.195 km   M    2.06.32 hrs   Samuel Wanjiru    Kenya

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11. Marathon  42.195 km  W  2.23.14 hrs    Naoko  Takahashi   Japan

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12. Cycling M 200m Sprint   9.815 secs   Chris Hoy  UK

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13. Cycling  W 200m Sprint  10.963 secs  Victoria Pendleton UK

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14. Rowing M 8+   2000m  5.19.85 mins   USA

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15. Rowing  W 8+  2000m   5.55.50 mins   USA

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16. Cycling M 1km Time Trial  1.00.711 mins  Chris Hoy   UK

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17. Cycling W 500m Time Trail 33.952 secs Anna Meares Australia

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………………………………………………………………..

You will find more Olympic records at these links: track, cycling and swimming:

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How fast are Olymic athletes compared with animals?

The top speed of humans was clocked at 43.56 km/h (27.1 mph) by Olympic sprinters Michael Johnson and Donovan Bailey during their Olympic competitions. This top speed only lasts for very short bursts. More info at this link.

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I’m sure Usain Bolt would achieve an even higher burst of speed if being chased by a cheetah. And, of course, cyclists can go much, much faster down hill.

So lets see how our 15 athletes above would rank on the animal speed chart. Go to the next post. Woo HOo! It’s the Zebra Olympics.

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3 comments

  1. A great resource for teaching rates! Thank you.


    • Hey Nordin, great to hear for you. Go for it. And I must tag Rates. Toodle Loo Mathspig


  2. […] According to these calculations Faster than a speeding chicken, but not as fast as an angry Squirrel. See this link. […]



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