Denard: I could take Usain Bolt (at a 40 yd dash)

Submitted by orobs on August 12th, 2012 at 7:11 PM "I've watched him run, and I'm pretty sure I can beat him in a 40-yard dash," Robinson said at Michigan's media day Sunday. "I'd get a better start, and I could take him. "At 60 yards, I'd be in trouble, and at 100 meters, he'd be gone, but I could get him in a 40."



August 12th, 2012 at 7:33 PM ^

with a quick search, Bolt had a split of 4.64s at 40m when he ran the 9.58. Denard would be right there with him at forty yards, but much further than that and Bolt pulls away.

Nothing tongue and cheek about it IMO.


August 12th, 2012 at 10:17 PM ^

to see Denard run track for UM in the 'duals' vs ohio his freshman year...he could hang with Bolt the first 40 easy because the fastest sprinter in Olympic 100m isn't the guy who gets out the fastest, it's the guy who slows down the least after 60 meters.  His first race ever in the indoor 60 he ran away from the field...he's no joke and I would guess he was joking as much as he was serious. Denard is a special kid and Bolt is a superhuman sprinter. Denard's statement is probably more accurate than you'd believe.


August 12th, 2012 at 10:34 PM ^

I was defending my original post against saying that 40m =/= 40y. Denard definitely runs faster than a 4.6 40y, so that's all the post you replied to said.

As to whether he could hang with Bolt for 120ft, I'd reply that Bolt doesn't have to have elite acceleration to be the fastest 100m/200m runner. If there were an Olympic 50m/30m, I think Denard would be in serious contention for a medal.

Blue in Yarmouth

August 13th, 2012 at 8:49 AM ^

you would know that he is crap out of the blocks. He had been doing considerable work on his start out of the blocks building up to the olympics because he knew his starts were far below most of his other competitors.He had a flase start during Olympic qualifying that further exacerbated his issues with his starts.

Look at most of his races and see were he is during the first 40 meters...he's playing catch-up. It is the last 60 where he catches up and passes his competition. 

Now I'm not saying Denard could beat Bolt in a race of any length, but the idea that it is because Bolt would have a far superior start isn't where I would hang my hat in this debate.


August 12th, 2012 at 8:07 PM ^

To hash out the math on that (40 meters = 43.7445 yards):

Assuming Denard runs about a 4.32 (the only figure I ever remember seeing) for the first 40 and continues at that pace (a completely inexact estimation) for another 3.7445 yards, he would get to 40 meters in 4.7244 seconds, not too far behind Bolt's pace to that point. For comparison's sake, Bolt's pace would calculate to a 4.243 40 yard time (another completely inexact estimation).

EDIT: This inexact meaure of pace from Bolt would put him in a virtual deadheat with Chris Johnson's 4.24 40 at the combine a few years ago.

panthera leo fututio

August 12th, 2012 at 8:28 PM ^

You get 4.24 if you take a straight proportion of [time] X [36.576yd] / [40m].

HOWEVA, 100 meter champions apparently accelerate through the first 50 or so meters, so a better estimate can be made by taking times at 30m and then estimating the time run in the last 6.576 meters by prorating the runners' 30-40m split. For Bolt's '08 Olympic run, this yields a 4.35. (Though since he was still accelerating through 40m, his true time at 40yd might have been closer to 4.36; I refuse to use calculus on a message board, dammit.)

panthera leo fututio

August 12th, 2012 at 8:09 PM ^

Looking at the splits here, Bolt covered the first 40 yards in Beijing in '08 in 4.35 seconds, and all the fastest times in the world leading up to that run (by Maurice Greene, Asafa Powell, etc.) covered the first 40 in approximately the same time.

On the one hand, 4.35 definitely seems doable for Denard. On the other, I have a hard time thinking that he'd beat all the fastest people who've ever lived, in the primes of their career, and having comitted themselves to training programs aimed purely at increasing sprinting speed.


August 13th, 2012 at 7:27 AM ^

It sounds like a well-reasoned answer, and Denard did put his typical touch of humility at the end.  It's not like he said he could outrun Bolt in Bolt's specialty.  I don't think this was the least bit "out of character," and I think Denard could back up his statement.


August 13th, 2012 at 10:11 AM ^

Botl has always had one of the "slower" starts for an elite sprinter, due to his longer-than-average torso and legs.  So yeah, short little muscular guys like Johnson could certainly get a jump on him, but after a couple of seconds Bolt's longer stride takes over and they'd all be lost.  So yeah, I could definitely see Denard keeping up with Bolt, but it would be close.

Jeffy Fresh

August 12th, 2012 at 7:28 PM ^

I think Denard wins. A 40 is not the same as a 100 meter. Plus Bolt would be mesmerized by Denards smile and start crying at the mere sight of such a thing.


August 12th, 2012 at 7:30 PM ^

Mickey Rourke recently said that he took Bolt in a footrace at 3 AM outside a club recently.  He said that Bolt gave him a 5 step start and he still…

IMO Denard has a good point.  He has an incredible first couple of steps...very explosive.  It is what sets Denard apart from just other fast guys.


August 12th, 2012 at 7:36 PM ^

This was discussed on Reddit also. User "Spicy_TWatkins" provides some interesting insight:



40 yard times are measured off of the runners start not the runner reacting to a gun. Bolt had a reaction time in that race of 0.146s, so subtracting that off you get to a 40 yard dash time of about 4.05s.




Just looked at Denard's profile on Michigan's track team's website and his 60m PB is 6.81s, Bolt ran the first 60m in Bejing and Berlin in 6.155 and 6.161, respectively. In less then 24m Bolt wouldn't be able to make up 0.6s on Denard, he would have to already be well ahead at 36.576m (40yds).



August 12th, 2012 at 7:43 PM ^

I'll take Denard with 30 seconds left in the game, down 3 points, on our own 20 yard line.

Denard is clearly not intimidated by gold; be it on medals or helmets.


August 12th, 2012 at 7:45 PM ^

Bolt would crush him even at 40 yds. 4.05 sounds reasonable for him, but people have to understand that Bolt is already beating or close to beating sub-10s 100m guys by 40 yds. There are only a few people on the planet who can keep up with Bolt at that distance. Denard doesn't have that kind of speed, even though he does have great acceleration. And, if Bolt were to get a decent start like he did when he clocked a 9.58, than I think Bolt could showboat the last 5+ yds maybe. I expect people like Chris Johnson and Denard to be confident in themselves, so I'm not even surprised he said this. 


August 13th, 2012 at 2:12 AM ^

Because the last 40M is when he is at full speed, that is a way different thing than being timed from when he starts, most of the 40 yard dash is still acceleration, so yes a 4.05 40 yard dash would be absoilutely incredible and IMO impossible at this point in time


August 15th, 2012 at 8:31 PM ^

Bolt trains to accelerate at the 40-50m mark when he runs the 100m. If you were to shorten the distance, Bolt would re-adjust his strategy accordingly.

The guy may not have the most prefect techinque getting off the blocks, but it doesn't matter because he has world-class acceleration and higher top speed than anyone in the world. If Bolt trained for the 40 yards and ran a sub-4.1s time, I would not be shocked.


August 12th, 2012 at 10:12 PM ^

YOU WEREN'T completely wrong. a runner slows after 60m. It's what makes the sprint what it is. The base principle as I already said is the guy who slows down the least. Studies have been done to measure human performance/explosive endurance. 60 Meters appears to be the range where the human body no longer sustains maximal speed.