Usain Bolt Vs Jesse Owens: Who Is The Better Athlete?


Jesse Owens and Usain Bolt redefined how fast a man could run. Here is a comparison of the two great athletes. Don’t forget to vote for the one whom you consider the better athlete.

Usain Bolt Jesse Owens

Extraordinary Achievements

Bolt is the first person to achieve a ‘double triple‘, winning gold medals in 100m, 200m and 4X100m relay in two consecutive Olympics. Bolt’s personal best of 9.58 seconds in the 100 metres is the fastest ever run. His record breaking margin for 100 m, from 9.69 seconds (his own previous world record) to 9.58, is the highest since the start of fully automatic time measurements. Bolt’s personal best of 19.19 s in the 200 metres is also a world record. He also holds the 150 metres world best set in 2009, during which he ran the last 100 metres in 8.70 seconds, the quickest timed 100 metres ever. One year before the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, during the Big Ten meet at Ferry Field in Michigan, Owens set three world records ( 220 yards sprint, 220 yard low hurdles and long jump) and tied a fourth (100 yard dash) within 45 minutes! This feat is considered by many as the most impressive performance in track and field history ever. Jesse Owens won 4 gold medals in 100m sprint, 200m sprint, long jump, and as part of the 4X100m relay team, thus winning more gold medals than any other athlete at the 1936 Olympic Games. His performance was not equalled for 48 years until Carl Lewis won gold medals in the same events at the 1984 Summer Olympics.

Analysis of Technique

Before Bolt, it was believed that people who were around 5ft 11in had the perfect physique to run the sprint. In fact due to Bolt’s height (6ft 5in) his coaches considered him too tall to compete over the shortest distance. Due to his height Bolt needs to take fewer strides than any of his rivals to complete the sprint. You would expect his large bounds to take more time than the quick paces of his rivals but they don’t and that’s what makes Bolt special. American sprinter Darvis Patton said about him – “He’s like a cheat code. That’s how good he is.


After Owens performance at Berlin The Guardian reported: “Owens is beyond question the greatest sprinter of modern times – not merely the fastest but incomparably the most beautiful. There never was a runner who showed so little sign of effort. He seemed to float along the track like water.” Owens was quoted saying the secret behind his success was “I let my feet spend as little time on the ground as possible. From the air, fast down, and from the ground, fast up“.

Points To Consider Before Voting

  • Unlike Bolt, Owens never got a chance of defending his titles because of the onset of World War II due to which the next two Olympics never took place. Also because he turned professional he wouldn’t have competed in the Olympics due to the rules of those times, anyway.
  • Jesse Owens didn’t have the privileges that today’s athletes have and it won’t be fair to compare him to Bolt just on the basis of timing. Just like Bolt, Owen’s too did what he could do, i.e., defeat his competitors, break records and be the greatest of his generation.
  • Bolt like Owens is far ahead of his competitors, but unlike in Owen’s time, the competition is more tough in today’s world.
  • Jesse Owens, unlike Bolt, also competed in long jump, winning the event in the 1936 Summer Olympics. Thus he was a more multi-dimensional athlete than Bolt whose achievements are restricted to sprinting.


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