OLSO, Norway – Usain Bolt could have run the 100-meter Olympic final in 9.55 seconds if he had not slowed down to celebrate winning gold, a Norwegian physicist said Friday.
"We estimate that he could have finished the race in a time between 9.55 and 9.61," Hans Eriksen said in a telephone interview.
Bolt won the final at the Beijing Olympics last month in 9.69 seconds, shaving 0.03 seconds off the previous record he set in May.
Eriksen, a physicist at the Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics at the University of Oslo, said he got the idea to examine just how quick Bolt could have gone after hearing his coach say that the Jamaican could have run 9.52 seconds.
"We saw the final on television and then spent the whole weekend researching," Eriksen said. "It was fun. We've done more serious research work, but this one got far more attention."
Eriksen and his colleagues analyzed TV footage of the race, focusing on Bolt's position, speed and acceleration, as well as that of runner-up Richard Thompson.
Both sprinters slowed down before the finish line. But Bolt's chest-beating celebration some 20 meters before the line cut his speed more.
"We don't mean to say that this is the final and ultimate result," Eriksen was quoted as saying in New Scientist magazine. "Instead, it's a fun application and simple physics."