The fastest athletes in sports

There are very few sports in the world where speed isn’t a factor. The ability of a player to drop the hammer and leave opponents in their dust can have a massive impact on a team’s success in a season. Speed can be the difference between a player reaching a pass, or just not making it. It can also be the difference between a defender shutting down an attack, or being left behind.

It’s tricky to compare players from different disciplines, after all, the pace Gareth Bale needs and the pace Usain Bolt needs are worlds apart. That doesn’t mean we can’t highlight the fastest player in rugby, American football, soccer and athletics.

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There are no surprises in this list. What will take you by surprise, is just how quick these athletes are.

Carlin Isles – Rugby

Carlin Isles USA SevensImage source:

Carlin Isles plays rugby for the United States Sevens team and is arguably the fastest rugby player in the world today.

Isles was a former track athlete, so it’s no surprise that he has an impressive 100m time. The 29-year-old covers 100m in a time of 10.13 seconds. Although it is not often that he has to step on the gas for the full 100 meters during a match, simply facing him on the field is enough to make any defense weary.

During a workout with the NFL’s Detroit Lions, Isles ran the 40-yard dash (approximately 37 meters) in just 4.22 seconds – the fastest time that year.

Isles is currently second to Madison Hughes for the Most Points Scored in 2019, and has scored more tries than any other player with 41. In total, Isles has scored more than 870 points including 174 tries in the World Sevens Series.

John Ross/Leonard Fournette – NFL

John Ross Cincinnati BengalsImage source:

John Ross plays as a wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals in the NFL. At the 2017 NFL Combine – a week-long showcase where college football players perform physical and mental tests in front of NFL coaches, managers and scouts – Ross ran the 40-yard dash in 4.22 seconds, setting a new Combine record and beating the previous record of 4.24 seconds held by Chris Johnson.

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While 4.22 seconds is incredibly fast, it’s important to keep in mind that American Football is played with a lot of protective padding, which would slow any runner down quite significantly. With all the tracking technology available these days, the fastest player tracked with ball-in-hand in the NFL is Leonard Fournette, who reached a top speed of 35 km/h against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2017.

Regardless of which record is more solid, you have to admit that both of these NFL stars have some serious pace.

Gareth Bale – Soccer

Gareth Bale celebratesImage source:

Welsh football star, Gareth Bale, needs little introduction. As one of the greatest wingers to have graced the game, Bale has terrorized defenses time-and-again with his pace, control and power.

A study to determine who the fastest football players in the world are, found that Gareth Bale is the quickest of the lot. The study, which measured players’ top speed over the course a season, found that Bale reached a top speed of 36.9 km/h.

Many would have thought that Cristiano Ronaldo would have no problem topping the list, but you would have to go all the way to number seven to find the Portuguese stars name. Bale’s former teammate clocked a top speed of 33.6 km/h.

Surprisingly, Columbia’s Orlando Berrio was the closest to the Welshman, clocking in at 36 km/h – almost one full kilometer per hour behind the Real Madrid star.

Usain Bolt – Athletics

Usain Bolt Moscow 2013Image source:

Usain Bolt, a man whose name is synonymous with speed, needs no introduction. The Olympic legend, who has been called “the fastest man alive”, holds nine gold medals and is the reigning champion at the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Olympic Games.

Bolt became the first man in Olympic history to win both the 100 meter sprint and the 200 meter sprint in record times. At the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Bolt set the 100m World Record by crossing the line in 9.58 seconds – reaching a top speed of 44.72km/h while doing it.

Not many will remember, but Bolt wasn’t always the dominant force he was before he retired. At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Bolt finished 5th in his first 200m race and failed to qualify for the next heat. Fast forward to 2008, and the Jamaican was back and he was faster than ever.

The fastest man alive went on to break the World Record in both the 100 meter and 200 meter events in Beijing, before going on to complete the triple-triple in 2016 by winning three gold medals in three different disciplines, at three different Olympic Games.

Following his retirement in 2017, Usain Bolt went on to play football in Australia for the Central Coast Mariners. His stint was short-lived as Bolt decided not to sign on, but not before he netted twice for the Central Coast side.

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Published: 04/09/2019