"The Fastest Man Alive"

So what’s the deal with you Americans claiming that Michael Johnson is the ‘Fastest Man Alive’? Historically, that title always went to the winner of the 100M dash. Along comes Michael Johnson, who wins the 200, and suddenly he’s “The Fastest Man Alive”?

All kinds of pseudo-justifications came out for this. The most common being that his average speed was higher than that of the 100M runner. Well, duh. The 100M runner has to accelerate from 0, and then only has maybe 80M left to make up the time. The 200M runner gets 180M to make up that time. If you measure the PEAK speed, the 100M sprinter (in this case, Canadian Donovan Bailey), is faster. In other words, the fastest man alive is the guy who can push his body to the highest speed. And of course, that’s the only measure that makes sense. If you want to use average speed, Johnson would lose to the Boston Marathon winner.

Finally, because Canada was so pissed off about this (and because both runners got paid a giant whack of cash), they agreed to have a run-off to determine who was really faster. I think they settled on an intermediate distance of 150M or something.

Anyway, at the start of the race Johnson was getting his ass kicked badly and way far behind when suddenly he quit the race and limped off, claiming he pulled something. He refused to race Bailey again.

Now tonight I see another program on TV (Extreme Machines on TLC), and they have a complete section on Michael Johnson, claiming once again that he is the fastest man alive.

I dunno. How did a feud for bragging rights by a couple of cash-hungry sports promoters become a matter of national honor just because their silly “wares” happened to live in different countries?


d. after hearing the comment that a marathon runners average speed would blow away MJ’s speed, I am here by stamping this entire post as complete and total idiocy. I want facts because that claim is ricockulous. Median speed yes, mean speed no fucking way.

Actually now that I think about it, median speed is not even close either. Are we talking average speed over time or over distance or is this some new Canadian math, metric maybe?

Omniscient: Are you saying that Michael Johnson would win the Boston Marathon if he entered it? Unless he has specifically trained for it, the answer is almost certainly no. Therefore, the winner of the Boston marathon would post a higher average speed.

And this really wasn’t a debate between the two athletes. After the 200 was run, the American media started trumpeting this ‘fastest man alive’ stuff.

There is tradition in track and field, and the title of ‘fastest man alive’ has been awarded to the winner of the 100m dash since the term started being used. Here in Canada we were generally confused, then annoyed when U.S. headlines started proclaiming Michael Johnson as the fastest man alive. It was doubly annoying since our last great runner, Ben Johnson, was banned for life for steroid use and had his world records stripped away, even though it was clear that steroid use was the norm among these athletes.

Omniscient: Ah, I see the confusion now. Obviously, the BM runner’s average speed or median speed would not be close to Johnson’s speed in the 200. I’m saying that the BM runner would be faster than Johnson if they both ran the marathon.

My point was that the only absolute speed measure you can use is the fastest instantaneous speed anyone can achieve. All other speeds are relative to the distance run. “The Fastest Man Alive” is the guy who can get a radar gun to hit the highest number if it tracks him. It’s always been that way, and Donovan Bailey was the guy.

“even though it was clear that steroid use was the norm among these athletes.”

Careful, you may make yourself look silly.

And yes, you see my unbrage with the initial assertation. The answer you’re seeking here is unclear, its not an officially recognized award, so the papers can throw the title around any way they please as long as an arguement can be formed as to not make them look like morons.

I agree that top speed is the only factor that should be considered, but for that to be said the type of race its reached in shouldn’t matter. Also, would a man who gets a really bad start, but finishes with a 11.2 time in the 100m be considered faster than a man who gets a great start but finishes in 11.15s? (The bad start beings a lapse in reation time of >.1s)

IIRC the fastest 100m ever run to date was the second half of MJ’s 200m dash in the 96 Olympics. He beat the record for the 100m dash by nearly a full second. And his average speed for each 100m was .4s faster than the 100m record set in the same Olympics. (Feel free to verify these facts because I didn’t dig up the precise data, and I’m not a big track fan).

The only obvious way to solve the debate is to have the men line up in the starting blocks and electically time their starts seperately (to eliminate reaction time). Then using the most accurate speed measurement system record their peak speed over a unbounded distance. Have each repeat this a number of times to assure a satisfactory result (averaging attempts not perfered).

Anything to add? The fact remains that even a side by side race doesn’t answer the question because reaction time, slow acceleration and maintaned top speed vary. Unless you want to stipulate a set of rules that require speed maintained or averaged over a distance or time, or include starting from a standstill with reaction time no type of head to head event is meaningful.

Dhanson is right about one thing. There’s no fucking way you’ll get into the Men’s Olympic 100 Meters final without using dope. Sure, they will all deny it. But it’s true.


“You know how complex women are”

  • Neil Peart, Rush (1993)

Yeah, I suppose thats why only a few of them get busted during all that testing they do.

I read this as…“These guys can do things that I can’t, and are better than everyone else in the world…they must be on dope. No one can earn their success”

Get a fucking grip, are you that insecure that any amazing athletic feat is automatically steriod derived.

Oh I forgot athletes are the enemy, better shine up my uzis, gotta go shoot some jocks. They picked on me.

Omniscient: Of course the 2nd 100 was run faster than the first 100. He’s got a running start at it. Reaction and acceleration time cuts down the time in the first 100 by a significant margin.

You can see how much the start and acceleration costs you, because Donovan’s best ever time in the 50m is 5.56s, and his best in the 100m is 9.84s. So if he ran his best ever 50m during that race, that means he ran the second 50m in 4.28s, a difference of 1.28 seconds, which can be counted as the time lost due to reaction time and acceleration. So if Johnson’s best time in the 2nd 100 was .4 seconds faster than Bailey’s, it is clear that Bailey hit a higher speed.

When Johnson and Bailey raced the 150, Bailey was ahead by a pretty wide margin at the point when they were both at maximum speed. Whether Bailey could have held that speed and won the race is open to debate, but not the fact that Baily hit the highest maximum speed.

As further proof, I found a note on the official website that says Bailey has been clocked at 27.1 MPH, which is the highest recorded speed ever attained by a man.

I looked at the stats for the 150m that they ran. Bailey ran the first 50m in 5.74s, the second 50m in 4.5s, and the 3rd 50m in 4.75s. Before Johnson was injured at the 100m mark, Bailey was ahead by .39s And Johnson was .17s faster off the blocks.

Last stat: Bailey is not a 200m runner, yet his best time in the 200m is 20.14s, which is only .35s slower than Johnson’s world record 19.79. Given that it’s pretty clear that the first 50m of the race costs you at least 1.2s, there’s no doubt as to who attains the highest speed.

All this is irrelevant since the title of ‘The Fastest Man Alive’ is honorary and has ALWAYS been awarded to the winner of the 100m, until the American Media decided on their own to crown Johnson.

Everyone knows the Flash is the fastest man alive.

Dhanson- what do you think the criteria for fastest man alive should be- The fastest time at 100M or the highest speed, regardless of the distance run?

Wil the Stilt would have been the pick of about 20,000 women, but I guess he doesn’t fit the alive category anymore.

I got a lot of energy ready to be wasted on somebody - Mookie Wilson

Of course, everyone will understand that I really meant Wilt the Stilt. Otherwise, I would look just plain silly.

Well Dhanson, the fact of the matter is, the American press made the statement they can kind of back it up and who is the world going to believe America or Canada. How could Canada produce a quality athlete? He would be too frozen to run fast.

Michael Johnson is fast. I saw his race at the 96 Olmpics from a big screen in Centenial Olympic park. Dang he is fast. Is the the fastest, who knows. But he is American, so I cheer for him.


Christ on a papaya, Omniscient . . . take your Prozac.

As I said, the title of “The Fastest Man Alive” has always been granted to the winner of the 100m, and the Americans liked it that way when their boy was winning the 100m. Suddenly a Canadian wins the 100m, and now it’s the winner of the 200m, who happens to be American, who is now “The Fastest Man Alive”. Phooey. If your athletes are so good, you don’t need to change the rules to protect them.

Also, as I said before, there is only one possible way that you can absolutely say that someone is the ‘fastest’, and that’s to clock the highest instantaneous speed they reach. That’s how you measure ‘the fastest’ in any other sport, so why should it be different for runners? And by that measure, it’s Bailey anyway, since he holds the world record for highest clocked velocity.

Call me crazy, but doesn’t an American (Maurice Greene) currently hold the world record in the 100M with a 9.79? Track doesn’t really interest me, nor does the nationalism involved, but if he has the record then the argument above seems a moot point.

I got a lot of energy ready to be wasted on somebody - Mookie Wilson

i ‘think’ we americans say that because michael johnson has more world records the the other guy.

if you have two mechanics and one puts the carbarator (sp) together faster, but the other one puts every other part of the engine together faster, which one is the fastest mechanic. makes about as much sense as the original argument.

consistancy my friends.

metroshane wrote:

I believe the spelling you’re looking for is “fuel injectors”. Hope this helps. :slight_smile:

Quick-N-Dirty Aviation: Trading altitude for airspeed since 1992.