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Who Is the Fastest Runner in the World? All About Usain Bolt's Records and More

Sprinters have an eye on breaking the longstanding record set by the legendary Usain Bolt.

By Joe Dziemianowicz

In track and field, the 100 meter race has long been regarded as a proving ground. 

The runner who holds the 100 meter world record claims bragging rights to being called the “World’s Fastest Man,” Olympics.com has reported.

Currently, Team USA’s Noah Lyles, 26, a 200-meter Olympic bronze medalist set to compete at the 2024 Summer Games in Paris, has bragging rightsThe sprinting superstar from Gainsville, Florida notched being “the fastest man in the world” at last year’s world championships in Budapest, Hungary, where he clinched the 100m with a personal best time of 9.83 seconds, CNN reported. Lyles also won a third consecutive victory in the 200m.

Noah Lyles during the third day of the World Athletics Indoor Championships

“I’ve always known that I was the world’s fastest man, but now you guys know it,” six-time world champion Lyles said after the event, NBC Sports reported.

The double victory was one for the books. Lyles became the first man since Jamaican star Usain Bolt to win the 100 meter and 200 meter races at a world championship.

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However, while Lyles is currently the fastest runner in the world, he doesn't hold the record for the fastest 100 meter. That belongs to Usain Bolt, and Lyles has his eyes — and fleet feet — on breaking Bolt’s longstanding records in the 100 meter and 200 meter events. He’s hot on the retired runner’s heels.

Usain Bolt runs on Day 9 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

How fast was Usain Bolt?

Bolt, who was born in Sherwood Content, Jamaica in 1986, officially retired from competition in 2017. His remarkable speed and dominance in sprinting events have made him a legendary figure in the world of athletics.

During his illustrious track and field career, the 6-foot, 5-inch sprinter competed in four Olympics beginning in 2004 in Athens. He won eight gold medals, with wins in the 100 meter, 200 meter, and four-man 100 meter relay events. Bolt is the only athlete to ever win the 100 meter and 200 meter in three consecutive Olympiads. 

In August 2009 at the World Championships in Berlin, Germany, Bolt ran the 100 meters in 9.58, a record that still remains intact. Bolt’s finish time bested his 100 meter records of 9.69 and 9.72 seconds that he’d previously set, respectively, in Beijing, China, and New York, per World Athletics stats

At the Berlin World Championships, Bolt ran the 200 meter event in 19.19 seconds, a record that also still stands.

The secret to Bolt’s record-setting success? He’s a big believer in the power of “determination.” With it, he has said, “anything is possible.” 

Asafa Powell on the track on Day 9 of the London 2012 Olympic Games

Who was the fastest runner in the world before Bolt?

Before Bolt burst on the track & field scene, Asafa Powell, another Jamaican sprinter, was setting the record-breaking pace to be the fastest runner in the world.

Born on November 23, 1982, Powell gained prominence for his prowess in the 100 meters. He set the world record for the 100 meters twice, first with a time of 9.77 seconds in June 2005 and then bettering it to 9.74 seconds in September 2007, per World Athletics. 

Powell competed in four Olympic Games, beginning in 2004 in Athens. He won a gold medal in the four-man 100 meter relay in 2016 in Rio. 

Powell’s record-breaking performances on the track sealed his status as one of the fastest men in history as well as an enduring inspiration for sprinters following in his footsteps.

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Watch live coverage of the Opening Ceremony on Friday, July 26, on NBC and Peacock beginning at 12 p.m. ET. Telemundo will provide Spanish-language coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET. Primetime coverage starts at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT on NBC and Peacock.

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