Is Usain Bolt faster than a cheetah? Compare athletes to animals

Last updated at 10:05

How do the world's fastest athletes compare to the quickest animals on the planet?

The BBC Nature team looked at some athletic animals to see if they can run faster than some of London 2012's star names.

The fastest man on Earth is currently Jamaica's Usain Bolt who set the world record running 100 metres in 9.58 seconds.

You wouldn't be surprised to know a leopard could run faster than him - but did you know that the brown hare is faster too?

It's capable of running 100 metres in just five seconds - essential to avoid the many predators trying to eat it.

If we compare Usain to one of our closer relatives - the patas monkey - he'd still only win silver.

A patas monkey would beat his world record time by three seconds.

Running long distance

Humans stand a better chance of beating animals across longer distances.

Our upright posture and ability to shed heat make us really good at long distance running.

North America's pronghorn - which looks like an antelope - run at a speed of 65km an hour.

But they couldn't keep up that pace for a full marathon.

High flyers

A jumping kangaroo
Kangaroos have long legs and large muscles for maximum jumping power

Animals are leaps ahead of humans in long-jump too.

Kangaroos, frogs and grasshoppers have developed long legs with large muscles for maximum hopping power.

Olympic athletes can clear over 2.5m in the high jump and lengths of 9m in the long jump with a single leap.

To stay one jump ahead, leaping bush babies' legs convert the energy of impact back into propulsion, essentially acting like springs.

This miraculous feat enables them to reach 2.25m in height which is the equivalent of Andrey Silnov clearing two stacked double-decker buses.

Fleas could still be in the running for an Olympic gold. They can catapult themselves over 200 times their body length up to 33cm!

Long shot

During the Beijing Games the gold medal winner Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway threw a javelin over 90 metres setting a new Olympic record.

Chimpanzees do not throw javelins yet, but they have been seen in Senegal making and using wooden spears!