Olympic Athletic Performance for Humans vs Animals - Who would Win?

Animals are excluded from the Olympics, apart the Equestrian events, which are quite frankly, degrading for animals - especially the dressage.

But while the athletes and swimmers bathe in the glory of their achievements, it is humbling to consider how humans would fare in human vs animal tests of Olympic athletic performance.

Well, the results may shock you, even though the animals don't train as hard as they should!

So how do human athletic abilities and performances compare with those in the animal kingdom?

The table below shows that in all the major individual athletic events the animals would win all the medals and that humans are inferior athletes to animals despite all the training that is done by Olympic athletes.

The human had a head-start? Cheeters are much faster that humans
The human had a head-start? Cheeters are much faster that humans | Source

Humans have dramatically improved their performance over the last 100 years, but as the images show humans performance improvements are slowing down and are probably close to the maximum that can be achieved.


That is why humans gave adopted time measurements in hundreds of seconds. Drugs may help but they may be banned.

Human Vs Animal World Records

Event
Human Record
Holder
Animal Record
Holder
100m
9.58 seconds
Usain Bolt
5.8 seconds
Cheeter
200m
19.19 seconds
Usain Bolt
6.9 seconds
Cheeter
 
 
 
9.8 seconds
Race Horse
 
 
 
11.2 seconds
Greyhound
400m
43.18 seconds
Michael Johnson
19.2 seconds
Race Horse
 
 
 
21.4 seconds
Greyhound
800m
1 min 41 sec
David Rushida
33 seconds
Pronghorn Antelope
 
 
 
49.2 seconds
Greyhound
Top running speed
23.4 mph (37.6 kph)
Michael Johnson
75 mph (120 kph)
Cheeter
 
 
 
55 mph (89 kph)
Pronghorn Antelope
 
 
 
55 mph (88kph)
Race Horse
 
 
 
43 mph (69kph)
Greyhound
 
 
 
22 mph (35.3 kph)
Dromedary camel
 
 
 
40 mph (64kph)
Ostrich
Flying Speed
Humans can't fly
 
161 mph (259 kph)
Peregrine falcons
 
 
 
64 mph (103 kph)
Ducks and Geese
Marathon
2 hours, 3 minutes and 38 second
Patrick Makau Musyoki
1 hour 18 minutes and 29 seconds
Horse
Long Jump
8.95 m
Mike Powell
12.8 m
Red Kangaroo
High Jump
2.45 m
Javier Sotomayor
3.1m
Red Kangaroo
 
 
 
4.0 m
snakehead fish
Power Output
80 Watts per kilo
 
400 Watts per kilo
Pheasant and Grouse
 
 
 
200 Watts per kilo
humingbird
Lifting Weights
snatch - 216.0 kg (476.2 lb),
Antonio Krastev
300 kg
elephant trunk
 
Clean and Jerk - 266.0 kg (586.4 lb)
Leonid Taranenko
820 kg
elephant carrying
 
 
 
455 kg
grizzley bear
 
 
 
900 kg
gorilla
Swimming speed
5.34 mph (8.6 kph)
Frederick Bousquet
68 mph (110 km/h).
Sailfish
100m Men's World Record History and Likely minimum time
100m Men's World Record History and Likely minimum time
Changes in the 10K world record and what caused the dramatic improvements
Changes in the 10K world record and what caused the dramatic improvements
200m Men's and Women's World Record History and Likely  Peak Performance
200m Men's and Women's World Record History and Likely Peak Performance
World Record to the 400m Swimming is approaching its minimum time
World Record to the 400m Swimming is approaching its minimum time

Energy Systems Used by Humans Versus Running Speed

Based on the current Olympic and world record running times, humans can maintain their maximum sprinting speed for only about 200 m. The average speeds for both the shorter distances of 100 m and 200 m world records are virtually identical (21.6 mph for 100m and 22.4 mph for 200m, about the same speed as a camel).

However, as the distance increases the average speeds decline dramatically. The average speed for the full distance of 26 miles for the marathon is only 12.1 mph, which is only about half the speed for the world record sprinting speed.

The primary reason for this is the limitation of the lungs in delivering oxygen to the muscles through aerobic metabolisms. For shorter distances the athletes cheat - they run without using oxygen. This is termed anaerobic metabolism. They firstly use the energy stored in the muscles that can be quickly used (ATP from Phosphocreatine - PCr). Next they can run their energy generating mechanisms without oxygen, but this is very inefficient and has lactic acid as a by product. Both of these forms of metabolism are very limited and don't use oxygen.

After a bout of exercise the athlete must slow down and breathe heavily to overcome what is termed an oxygen debt. That is the athlete must consume more oxygen to replenish the energy and glycogen stored in the muscles that enables the burst of speed.

Decrease in average running speed with distance and its relationship with anaerobic metabolism
Decrease in average running speed with distance and its relationship with anaerobic metabolism | Source
Variations in Primary Energy Source at Different Running Distances
Variations in Primary Energy Source at Different Running Distances | Source

© 2012 Dr. John Anderson

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nakmeister profile image

nakmeister 4 years ago from Lancaster, UK

I found your hub very interesting; it was something I'd never really thought much about. A friend of mine in the UK competes in a race for charity where he runs against horses. I believe this is a half marathon of around 13 miles and actually humans typically win. Horses are better over the shorter distances but tire more easily and so the humans; even my friend who isn't a marathon runner or anything, does tend to beat the horses. It is totally against what I thought would happen- we thought he was mad when he first said it- but it is really interesting how you imagine something based on perhaps a half mile horse race. Thanks for your facts and figures, they provide some great comparisons.

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