Usain Bolt believes he could have run the 100m even faster than 9.5 seconds if ‘super spikes’ had been available at the time.
In an interview with The Guardian, Bolt said he could have out performed his own records if the new generation of high-tech footwear had been available at the time. He said: ‘We have guessed and we have talked about it, but I don’t know for sure. But definitely much faster. Below 9.5 seconds for sure. Without a doubt.’
Super spikes are shoes with highly responsive technology that offers greater running economy. Runners need less energy to run at a certain speed, which in turn can improve their performance.
For sprinters this technology went mainstream in 2019, when Nike-sponsored athletes began to smash records and personal bests wearing shoes like the AirZoom Victory. Similar technology has been used in distance running for a little longer, with all three medal winners at the 2016 Olympic marathon wearing prototypes for the shoes that later became the Nike Vaporfly 4%.
But some, like former marathon world record holder Tegla Loroupe, have said the new technology amounts to ‘cheating’. As a result, World Athletics tightened competition rules around the new technology: any product now has to be available on the market for four months before use in a competition, while any shoes with a sole between 20mm-40mm, depending on the event, are banned altogether.
Bolt is still the only man in history to run the 100m faster than 9.6 seconds, having set a record of 9.58 in Berlin in 2009. But since super spikes started gaining popularity, a number of long-standing records have been broken.
Bolt said: ‘Me and a friend were talking about this the other day and I was like, “should I be upset?” Because I know over the years everyone has tried to make spikes different and better but …’
He added: ‘How can I argue if World Athletics decide that it’s legal? I can’t do anything about it. The rules are the rules. I don’t think I’ll be fully happy, but it’s just one of those things.’
But Bolt’s records look safe for now. American Trayvon Bromell ran the fastest 100m this season in 9.77 seconds, while his compatriot Noah Lyles’ fastest 200m time this year is 19.74 – both a way off Bolt’s records.
Elsewhere in the interview, Bolt also praised British runner and Olympic 200m contender Dina Asher-Smith for her work ethic. ‘Dina has already proven herself to be one of top [sic] athletes in the world,’ he said.
‘But she keeps pushing to be the best and to beat the best. You see she puts in the work. She has the dedication. If a conversation is happening about who is going to win Olympic gold, she’s a part of it.’
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