At top speed, Carl Lewis was as fast as I've ever seen. I seriuosly doubt that at top speed anyone has ever run faster than Lewis. Many had better starts or could hold speed longer but at top speed Carl was the MAN.
I got to see Carl Lewis and Donovan Bailey go head-to-head on 4x1 anchor legs at Texas Relays in 1997. Lewis won, Bailey cramped up. (Funny how, a few weeks later in that infamous 150 against Michael Johnson, everyone accused MJ of faking a cramp, but no one accused DB of the same when it was obvious he was going to lose to CL. Not that I'm accusing him of anything, I was just bothered by the hypocrisy and/or short memory of the accusing fans.)
And speaking of MJ, I assume I saw him run the 200 at the Texas high school state champs in 1986, since I was there, but I don't remember him -- I'm sure I was distracted by Derrick Florence, who whipped him by 0.8. (20.5 vs. 21.3.) In fact, if my memory of the schedule is accurate, I may have taken the track in the class 3A mile immediately after his class 5A race finished.
Three thoughts about fastest person you THINK you ever saw.
1. Size matters. Think of a 747 in the glide path to landing. Say it's going about 250mph; it looks like it's just hanging there in the sky. If a P-51 was descending at 250mph it would look like a bat outta hell. (Why Houston McTear looked so incredibly fast even though bigger guys were running faster.)
2. It depends on how close to the track (maybe even specific lane) you are. The closer you are to somebody, the faster they look. (Using this criterion, I've never seen anything faster than Maurice Greene from a few meters away)
3. It depends on what part of the race you look at. Almost impossible to accelerate after 60m or so, but judgments about top-end speed are almost always made at the finish, where it's all about who's slowing down the least, not who's still getting faster or "kicking it into top gear."
I saw Bobby Morrow, Dave Sime, Ray Norton, Bob Hayes, Tommy Smith, Henry Carr, and Carl Lewis -- some pretty fast guys, so this one wasn't the fastest, but perhaps the most exciting sprint I ever saw was:
Forrest Beaty running 220 yards (longer than 200m by about .1 second) in 20.2 in high school. This was a mind-blowing performance when it was accomplished on a slow (by today's standards) dirt track in 1962. Beaty never improved much in college, but he was lightning in HS.
The fast time over the longer distance and on a slow track is very impressive. However, there are a couple caveats: It was a straightaway 220 (no turn), and it was hand timed. Still, Beaty was MOVING and it was extremely exciting to everyone present. Probably because I was close to the action (down on the infield next to the track), as gh points out above, but Beaty just LOOKED faster than anyone I'd seen.
Last edited by oldvaulter on Tue Mar 16, 2004 11:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I watched Donovan Bailey run 9.91 standing right beside lane 8 in 1995, with Bruny Surin chasing him in 9.97. Being at trackside makes it look faster than it ever does from the stands or on television. Track suffers because television cannot convey the true ability of these athletes. The closest they have come is with the little roll-along cameras beside the track.
What is really astounding is when you actually run against a world class sprinter. I thought I was pretty quick over 30-40m, but when I trained with Mike McFarlane (5th 1984 OG 100m) it was amazing how fast he moved and how much distance he opened up on me within 20m.
30 years ago I was lucky to be at the track during some training sessions when Jean Louis Ravelomanantsoa was practicing starts. He was an NAIA sprinter at Westmont College far from his home in Madagascar. Short, thick, stubby and incredibly quick. He was a 10 flat world class sprinter for a decade mostly on the basis a blinding start. I've seen Carl and Hayes and others run faster at top end speed, but, sheesh, JL's acceleration was something to behold.
Seen Percy Spencer's 9.98 and Frankie Fredericks' 9.97 at the National Stadium. Many Ray Stewart races. He Stewart grew up in the same area of Kingston that I lived and still live, and went to the grade school that my Mom still teaches at.
I guess I've never been to a big time meet in person.
But the one performance I really remember was back in the mid-80s at the Empire State Games tryouts. There were some amazing female sprinters from the Rochester area, including one youngster in the 100. Went by the name of Kim Batten, current world record holder in the Women's 400H.
>I guess I've never been to a big time meet in person.
But the one
>performance I really remember was back in the mid-80s at the Empire State Games
>tryouts. There were some amazing female sprinters from the Rochester area,
>including one youngster in the 100. Went by the name of Kim Batten, current
>world record holder in the Women's 400H.
I had a similar experience with a 7th grade girl. I went to my son's first 7th grade track meet, and there was a girl that won the girl's 400 by about 150 meters, I kid you not. I immediately said to the coach, "this is a blue, blue, chipper that can go to the very, very, top."
I deeply remember Calvin SMITH's incredibly
smooth strides in 1987 at the Jean-BOUIN Paris
meeting. That day he ran a 20"29 200m.
"Style is man." the French writer BUFFON said.
Calvin SMITH remains to me as a virtuoso who
was always giving the extraordinary visual
impression that he was flying on burning tracks.
My hero when I was a kid.
My last race in open track & field was when I agreed to fill in the second 200 leg of a Sprint Medley team for my track club at Penn Relays and found myself lined up next to Steve Riddick running for the Philadelphia Pioneers. After that, I waited to become a submaster.
Not THE fastest, but as far as 'speediest' (amazing turnover),Billy Gaines at '66 National indoor, winning in 5.9(60y). He was the real thing - lightning quick, and accomplishing something pretty unreal for a HIGH SCHOOL JUNIOR.
halfmiler, My experience was similar. Also a halfmiler, I ran my first collegiate indoor race in a 4 X 400. On a 300 meter track, each leg was waiting at a different area. Running 2nd, I look over and Harvey Glance was standing there. Being young and obviously dumb, I was into it, and planned to latch on to Harvey like a bulldog on the mailman. It's pretty hard to grab on to something you can barely see. Luckily he got the baton long before me. Riddick was so fun to watch. One of my all time favorites.
not a sprinter certainly, but a year or so ago I was out "running" on a rail-trail at about a 9 minute pace here in Indy when I was passed by a guy named Bob Kennedy. Of course it was like a jet plane passing a camel !
I've seen some phenominal sprinters at the Texas Relays. Ive seen Mo Green run great 200m legs and loose. I've seen Carl Lewis run a leg against Donavan Bailey and cause him to cramp up in both legs. Kim Collins at the texas relays run 9.9's two years in a row. I saw Tre Gardner run a leg against Jon Drummond in the 4 x 200 that was fantastic (19.4 split). I've seen Brenden Christian as a high Schooler run the best anchor 4x400 I've ever seen. He overcame a 20m defecit to win the event.
At the 1988 Olympic Trials I was walking behind the start of the first round of the women's 100 featuring Florence Griffith Joyner. I stopped to watch--must not distract the sprinters with movement. The race went off and Flojo became a small dot in the distance surprisingly fast. There was a big noise from the crowd. I could not see the clock and I remember thinking "Gee, she disappeared awfully fast." She had run 10.60W.
Last edited by Ten Bears on Wed Jul 14, 2004 3:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
There I sat on the hard bleachers at Radcliff Stadium in Fresno sometime in the 60's. I was just a kid.
New Mexico had a crack 4x2 team with 9.3/20.3 speedster Bernie Rivers on anchor.I was into it even then or so I thought.It was going to be all about NM with Rene Matison a 20.5 type also on their team.
At the final exchange it was all NM.Rivers had a solid 10 meters on some skinny kid from San Jose State.
Need I go on?
Tommie ate him alive as the crowd..WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!..that was my introduction to Tommie Smith. In my opinion the greatest ever.
The fastest guy I ever saw was back in high school, a cat by the name of Leroy Russell. This dude was a bad ass pot smokin, bear drinkin bad boy who once challenged the school 100yards champ to a race for a dollar. The school sprint champ also happened to be the national junior champ.
Well, I remember this race as clear as crystal to this day. The sprint champ was in his track gear and Leroy was dressed in regular street wear. The guy who started the race had them line up at the start of the 100 yards dash. The sprint champ went into a crouch start from blocks and Leroy went from a standing start. When they were ready, the starter yelled set and then clapped his hands loudly. The sprint champ reacted the fastest, but Leroy took off with the most explosiveness I have ever seen. He absolutely dominated the entire 100 yards to win by a good 6-7 meters! I have never seen anything like it before and I wish someone had timed him because it would have been blindingly fast! I never did see Leroy race officially. He just wasn't interested in sports at all. Last time I heard he was living in some shelter in LA.