This story originally appeared on LX.com
The world’s best athletes gather after years of preparation for the Olympics, break records, win gold and achieve glory for themselves and their nation.
Many of the upcoming events will demonstrate the immense strength and skill of the athletes. But some of the most popular Olympic sports depend on another athletic attribute: speed.
Whether it’s swimming or athletics in summer or skiing, sledding and speed skating in winter, we’re obsessed with how fast Olympians go. Are you faster than last time? Are you the fastest team this year? Or have we just experienced a speed that has stood the test of time?
There is no doubt that at the Olympic Games in Tokyo we will once again see the world’s best athletes impressing us. But who or what traveled fastest ever in an Olympic competition in the pursuit of greatness and fame?
Was it Michael Phelps?
Michael Phelps competes in the final of the men’s 4 x 100 m medley relay swim at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. (Odd Andersen / AFP via Getty Images)
Let’s do it quickly. Michael Phelps is a living Olympic legend. He has a bazillion Olympic medals and holds records in 200m freestyle and too many other disciplines to list.
Michael Phelps has shown the world that he is a very fast swimmer to say the least. But humans can only move that fast in water, and that is roughly the fastest speed achieved.
I’m sorry Michael, your 5-6 mph won’t make it here.
Will it be Simone Biles?
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Simone Biles holds a gold medal won at the 2016 Rio Olympics. (Getty Images)
Simone Biles holds the world record for gold medals among gymnasts. She has won more all-around titles than any other gymnast in history, and she can make a move so dangerous that the point value is limited.
Biles is obviously a top athlete. So elitist that a team of sports scientists wondered if Biles’ movements were against the laws of physics. Long story short: no laws of physics broken, only records. Although these scientists have found that Biles has to withstand incredibly powerful forces just to stay on course and land upright. When it flies through the air, the force pulling it down is as strong as an alligator’s bite, say physicists.
But is their speed elite? Though she could probably beat many of us in one race, a physicist quoted by Inverse.com calculated Biles’ speed to be 14.7 mph when she launched into a triple double motion.
Sorry Simone, but it can be done faster!
Was it Usain Bolt?
Gold medalist Usain Bolt from Jamaica bites his gold medal during the award ceremony for the men’s 4 x 00 meter relay on day 15 of the 2016 Rio Olympics. (Patrick Smith / Getty Images)
The Jamaican record sprinter Usain Bolt is considered the fastest man in the world. The world record holder for the Olympic 100-meter, 200-meter and part of the 4×100-meter relay races has reached a top speed of 27.3 miles per hour in Olympic competitions, according to the official Olympic website.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Bolt’s top speed is faster than average traffic in New York or San Francisco. And while he probably can’t match the 186,000 mph speed of actual lightning, the now-retired Bolt and his wife Kasi named their daughter Lightning.
Here’s another random statistic: On a regular major league baseball field, it’s 90 feet from home plate to first base. At his top speed, Bolt could theoretically reach first base in 2.25 seconds.
While Bolt is an incredibly fast person, he couldn’t catch up with the next items on this list.
Baseball: Throwers Throw Heat
When it comes to pitching, Major League Baseball fans have heard it all this year. Pitchers throw harder. You will be checked for foreign matter that could make the ball spin faster.
But for those who don’t know, the best throwers can throw the ball really fast.
Guinness World Records lists the fastest ballpark of all time as a 105 mph bomb by then-Cincinnati Reds player Aroldis Chapman. Chapman is now closer to the New York Yankees.
Hockey: watch out for those pucks!
Ice hockey is a winter sport, so don’t expect to see it in Tokyo this year.
While players can reach breakneck speeds while skating, the real contender for speed is the puck.
If a strong player takes a slapshot, the puck can easily reach 100 mph – and that’s cold, hard rubber. Imagine the bruises!
The current record in a professional hockey competition is 109.2 mph, set by LA Kings Minor Leaguer Martin Frk. It beat the record of 108.8 mph set by the Boston Bruins’ Zdeno Chara in the NHL Hardest Shot competition.
Not Olympic, but worth mentioning: speed skiing
There are objects that move faster in sports, but no human body can travel faster than those with the help of fresh snow and ice.
In winter competitions, people in the sport of speed skiing can easily go over 100 miles per hour. That speed alone would get you a speeding ticket in your car, but it’s not even the pinnacle of the sport.
The Italian Valentina Greggio holds the world record in speed skiing for women and descends a mountain in France at 153 miles per hour.
But it was not an Olympic competition: According to the Financial Times, speed skiing is no longer an Olympic event due to the high level of danger in the sport.
Golf: more than leisure
The best golfers in the world can launch the ball at high speed.
Guinness lists the fastest golf drive at 217.1 mph. It was achieved on January 23, 2013 when US golfer Ryan Winther took off at the Orange County National Driving Range in Orlando, Florida.
We probably won’t see that record break during the Tokyo Olympics – after all, accuracy counts. But just know, there is room for strength.
Badminton: a top contender
Badminton players can have some serious strength and probably a nice breeze too.
The world record for a badminton hit is according to Guinness at 426 km / h or 264 mph. Mads Pieler Kolding broke the record during a Badminton Premier League game in Bangalore, India.
What about shooting events?
Sam Greenwood / Getty Images
Vincent Hancock of the United States competes in the qualifier for the Skeet event during the 2016 Rio Olympics. (Sam Greenwood / Getty Images)
Olympic shooting competitions often use air rifles, which behave slightly differently than typical firearms. There are rifles, shotguns, and pistols, each of which could have their own speeds.
But according to a somber article in the journal Clinical Practice and Cases in Emergency Medicine, air forces can fire their projectiles at speeds of 1,200 feet per second, or 818 miles per hour.
There’s no direct measurement of the bullet velocity from the guns in Olympic shooting competitions (the focus is on hitting targets, after all, not … whatever we’re doing here). But if that speed is maintained, or even 400 mph, then Olympic shooters will deliver the fastest objects in competition.