Humans would be also-rans in all-species Olympics

Bolt, at 37.6kph, will be no match for cheetah which can reach speed of 104kph.

Afp July 28, 2012


Human beings would be made to look decidedly unimpressive were animals allowed to compete in the Olympics – outperformed by the likes of kangaroos, gorillas and ostriches, according to a science paper.

Usain Bolt, currently the world’s fastest man, may just be able to outrun a Dromedary camel but would trail the cheetah, greyhound and ostrich in a sprint race, said a feature in the Veterinary Record journal.

“’Citius, Altius, Fortius’ (faster, higher, stronger) is the Olympic motto, but if we allowed the rest of the animal kingdom into the Games ... we could not offer much competition,” wrote author Craig Sharp.

Jamaican track star Bolt holds the 100m-record of 9.58 seconds, which translates into a speed of 37.6 kilometres per hour. The world’s fastest land animal, the cheetah, can reach speeds of 104kph, a thoroughbred racehorse 70kph, a greyhound 69kph and an ostrich 64kph, said Sharp of the Centre for Sports Medicine and Human Performance at Brunel University in London. The camel comes in just behind Bolt at 35.3kph.

When it comes to marathon running, the human athlete could not hold a candle to endurance animals like camels or sled dogs, and he would also be beaten in the long jump by the kangaroo (12.8 metres compared to the human record of 8.95m). The high jump record of 2.45m would be smashed by the springbok gazelle, which can bound over three metres into the air, and the snakehead fish which can leap over four metres out of water.

When it comes to strength, human weight lifters would see themselves far outperformed by elephants, grizzly bears and gorillas, said the document.

“In pure physical events like running, jumping, swimming ... we wouldn’t win anything,” said Sharp. “What we are good at is being really versatile; we can sprint, we can run long distances, we can jump, we can swim, we can lift weights. Pitted against the animal kingdom, “what we would do well at is a sort of decathlon of swimming, running, jumping, lifting.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2012.