# Bolt’s 9.69 in Beijing 2008. What Could He Have Run?

“This would of been faster than 9.58 if he didn’t showboat”

“This 9.69 would have been an easy 9.52 if he ran to the line”

“What the hell lol he could’ve got under 9.60 if he continued till the end instead of celebrating 2 seconds early.”

Quotes above are taken from YouTube and it’s just a sample of the kind of comments you’ll undoubtedly run across if you ever happen upon a discussion about the race that made Usain Bolt famous. Of course I’m talking about the 100m final from the 2008 Beijing Olympics where Bolt started to celebrate his victory about 18 meters before crossing the line in a world record time of 9.69 seconds.

It’s frustrating to read those comments because a lot of people seem to grossly overestimate Bolt’s slowdown in the final meters of the race. They believe that it was the best race of his career and that he could have run even faster than his current world record of 9.58 that he set one year later at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin.

And it’s just not true. The race in Beijing was at best just as good as the one in Berlin, but it 100% wasn’t a faster one.

The explanation is simple. We just have to look at the 10m split times from the race and compare it to the ones from Berlin.

We see that his splits are very similar and the ones from 50m to 90m are basically identical. The slower last 10 meters from Beijing are a result of his showboating and we can estimate that he could have probably covered it in 0.83 seconds if he had continued to run hard through the finish line.

So if we directly answer the question in the title:

Bolt could have run 9.62 seconds at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

But let’s make a hypothetical claim and say that he could have maintained his top speed from 60 to 100 meters. If you know anything about sprinting, you’ll know that that’s pretty much impossible. Top speed is usually achieved somewhere between 45 and 65 meters and the athlete who wins is usually the one who decelerates the least in the last 40 meters or so. But just for the sake of it, what would the time be if he’d have run four consecutive 0.82 second 10m splits from 60 to 100m?

If we do a bit of math, we see that he would have run 9.60 seconds in that extremely optimistic and unrealistic case.

Still not faster than Berlin. 9.62 is the most realistic answer and I hope that we can end this discussion once and for all.

## 11 thoughts on “Bolt’s 9.69 in Beijing 2008. What Could He Have Run?”

1. Yes, right.
9.61-9.63 is my estimation, studying the splits, progression, shape,..
So yes, 9.62 is very good estimation too.

But in my opinion Beijing is his best race, because we should to remember that the wind was 0.0 while in Berlin was +0.9, it is the main difference.

Bolt runs in Beijing smoother, more fluid,.. he is in huge shape there.
In Berlin he is super fast too, of course, but he runs with more power, it is different.

Both races are more or less same level, but his execution was better in Beijing in my opinion.

Regards and good article.

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1. Ulrik Johansson 1 March 2022 — 22:13

You forgot tailwind. what would usain have run in beijing if he had kept running and the tailwind was the same as in berlin 2009? the tailwind in 2009 was +0,9 m/s

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1. A tailwind of 2.0 m/s is estimated to give around 0.10 to 0.12 seconds advantage over 100m. So let’s compromise and say that 0.9 m/s would have given Bolt 0.05 seconds. This means that he would have run 9.57 in Beijing (if we assume that I am right in the article and he would have run 9.62 if he ran hard through the finish line). So this is about the same as in Berlin. Keep in mind that his exact photo-finish time in Berlin was 9.572, but times are always rounded up in athletics. In any case, it is very well possible that he could have run 9.50 in both Beijing and Berlin if he had had perfect wind conditions and perfect execution. But I tend to agree with Francisco that Beijing may have been a better executed race.

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2. Admiring the commitment you put into your website and detailed information you provide. It’s awesome to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same unwanted rehashed material. Great read! I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

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3. Ulrik Johansson 1 March 2022 — 22:06

You forgot tailwind. what would usain have run i beijing if he had kept running and the headwins was the same as in berlin 2009? the headwins in 2009 was +0,9 m/s

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4. Ulrik Johansson 1 March 2022 — 22:09

You forgot tailwind. what would usain have run i beijing if he had kept running and the tailwind was the same as in berlin 2009? the tailwind in 2009 was +0,9 m/s

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5. Ulrik Johansson 1 March 2022 — 22:10

You forgot tailwind. what would usain have run in beijing if he had kept running and the headwins was the same as in berlin 2009? the headwins in 2009 was +0,9 m/s

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6. Ulrik Johansson 1 March 2022 — 22:12

You forgot tailwind. what would usain have run in beijing if he had kept running and the tailwind was the same as in berlin 2009? the tailwind in 2009 was +0,9 m/s

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7. Ulrik Johansson 4 August 2022 — 21:01

if he didn’t showboat in beijing anfdthe tailwind in beijing was 0.9 m/s,
then bolt would have run 9.575.
In Berlin Bolt ran 9.572, but they always round up, so he officially got 9.58

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8. If he didn’t showboat in beijing andt he tailwind in beijing was 0.9 m/s (like the tailwind was in Berlin),
then bolt would have run 9.575.
In Berlin Bolt ran 9.572, but they always round up, so he officially got 9.58.

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9. What was usain bolt split-time in the 100m Olympics in Bejing from 85 to 90 metres?
And i don’t want you to use 0.87/2. I want you to give me the actual clock time from 85 to 90 metres, brother. He started his showboating at 85 metres..

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