It's remarkable how much can happen in the roughly 10 seconds it takes for Usain Bolt to run 100 meters. Sunday night's race in Rio featured Bolt getting off to a slow start, gaining ground on his opponents, accelerating past them and coasting into the finish line.
It's those final few moments we'd like to focus on here. Let's begin with this picture that shows the end of the 100 meter final, the third straight time he's won a gold medal in that event.
The man in the blue, to Bolt's left, is Justin Gatlin. He finished second. The man in the black, to Bolt's right, is Andre De Grasse. He finished third. Both of them are doing what's referred in the sprint biz as a "dip," a move meant to throw your body across the finish line in a desperate attempt to steal a few hundredths of a second. Bolt, as you can see, is not dipping.
He's doing what we've come to expect from him in these situation and celebrating as soon as he knows he's got the race locked up. Even though he failed to dip and eased up enough to look at the clock and pound his chest, Bolt took the gold by .08 seconds.
So, how much faster would he have been if he kept running at full tilt dipped through the line? Hard to say! Four years ago in London, he dipped across the finish line and a ran the 100m in 9.64 seconds. That's a full .15 seconds faster than his time in Rio, but it's impossible to know how much of that was due to the dip.
What 2012 does prove though is that Bolt thinks he can turn in faster times with a dip. But he usually doesn't need to. Once he can tell he's got the victory sewn up, Bolt prefers to start celebrating. As a fan, it's impossible to not love that because it results in images of unrestrained dominance that show just how far ahead of all other humans this man really is.