Jamaica’s eight-time Olympic gold medal winner, Usain Bolt believes that if he had worn “super spikes” when he ran the 100 meters in a record-breaking 9.58 seconds he could have run even faster. “Below 9.5 seconds for sure. Without a doubt,” Bolt said in an interview with The Guardian. Bolt is the only man in history to run 100 meters in less than 9.6 seconds, setting the record at 9.58 seconds in 2009. Bolt’s 100-meter record still stands today, but with the growing popularity of super spikes, many other long-time records have fallen.
Super spikes are a new innovation in high-tech footwear that allow athletes to expend less energy to run at certain speeds. This means their performance improves through the greater running economy. The footwear technology was first introduced in mainstream competitions in 2019, and athletes sponsored by Nike started to break records and attain new personal bests while wearing shoes like Nike’s AirZoom Victory. All of the three medal winners running the marathon at the 2016 Olympics wore prototypes of the shoes that became Nike’s Vaporfly 4%.
While many runners favor the new technology, others like Tegla Loroupe, a former marathon world record holder, believe wearing such shoes amounts to cheating. World Athletics competition rules addressed the new technology with stricter rules that require any product used in a competition must have been on the market for four months prior to the event. The rules also ban any shoes with soles measuring between 20 mm and 40 mm, depending on the event.
Bolt told The Guardian that “the rules are the rules” when it comes to super spikes, acknowledged that he would not be “fully happy” if his 100-meter record is broken, “but it’s just one of those things.” For the time being, however, his record seems safe, as the fastest 100 meter time in the 2021 season was achieved by Trayvon Bromell of the United States who clocked 9.77 seconds. The fastest 200-meter time in 2021 was 19.74, which was attained by Bolt compatriot Noah Lyles. Both of these times are significantly higher than Bolt’s records.
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