The purpose of this investigation was to compare and determine the relevance of the morphological characteristics and variability of running speed parameters (stride length and stride frequency) between Usain Bolt’s three best 100 m performances. Based on this, an attempt was made to define which factors determine the performance of Usain Bolt's sprint and, therefore, distinguish him from other sprinters. We analyzed the previous world record of 9.69 s set in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the current record of 9.58 s set in the 2009 Berlin World Championships in Athletics and the O lympic record of 9.63 s set in 2012 London Olympics Games by Usain Bolt. The application of VirtualDub Programme allowed the acquisition of basic kinematical variables such as step length and step frequency parameters of 100 m sprint from video footage provided by NBC TV station, BBC TV station. This data was compared with other data available on the web and data published by the Scientific Research Project Office responsible on behalf of IAAF and the German Athletics Association (DVL). The main hypothesis was that the step length is the main factor that determines running speed in the 10 and 20 m sections of the entire 100 m distance. Bolt’s anthropometric advantage (body height, leg length and liner body) is not questionable and it is one of the factors that makes him faster than the rest of the finalists from each three competitions. Additionally, Bolt’s 20 cm longer stride shows benefit in the latter part of the race. Despite these factors, he is probably able to strike the ground more forcefully than rest of sprinters, relative to their body mass, therefore, he might maximize his time on the ground and to exert the same force over this period of time. This ability, combined with longer stride allows him to create very high running speed - over 12 m/s (12.05 -12.34 m/s) in some 10 m sections of his three 100 m performances. These assumption confirmed the application of Ballerieich's formula for speed development. In most 10 m sections of the 100 m sprint, the step length was the parameter that significantly determined the increase of maximal running speed, therefore, distinguishing Bolt from the other finalists.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.