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The London 2012 Summer Olympic Games start this Friday — when some of the top athletes from around the world will go head to head for the coveted gold medal.
At Vetstreet, we know that animals are also capable of some amazing physical feats, so we decided to look at critters who could easily compete against current human record holders in eight popular events.
Human Record Holder: The Olympic record for the 100-meter dash was set by Usain Bolt of Jamaica at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. With a time of 9.69 seconds, Bolt ran at an average 23 miles per hour.
Animal Contender: The champion sprinter of the animal kingdom is the cheetah. This cat can run 70 miles per hour for bursts of 183 meters — that's twice the length of the Olympic race, and three times as fast as Bolt.
Mike Baird via Flickr
Human Record Holder: Olympic diving hasn't been judged for how far a person can dive since the 1904 games, which included an event called Plunge for Distance, a kind of diving long jump. The one and only gold medal ever won for this event went to William Dickey of the U.S. for a distance of 62.5 feet.
Animal Contender: Even animals who live partly on land can dive to amazing depths — the emperor penguin can plunge to 1,500 feet, staying under for almost 30 minutes. And the elephant seal can dive to a depth of 5,000 feet and stay submerged for almost two hours.
Human Record Holder: The Olympic record for the 10,000-meter race is held by Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia, which was set at the 2008 games. Bekele's time was 27:01.17, and he clocked an average speed of 13 miles per hour.
Animal Contender: The pronghorn, which resembles an antelope, is the fastest land mammal in North America — and the speediest in the world at long distances. Pronghorns can sprint at 60 miles per hour, and run at 45 miles per hour for miles without tiring.
Human Record Holder: The Olympic record for the high jump was set at the 1996 Atlanta games by Charles Austin of the U.S. He jumped 2.39 meters or 7 feet, 10 1/10 inches.
Animal Contender: The mountain lion (also called the puma or cougar) can spring 20 feet straight up a hill — the height of a two-story building — from a standstill. And the impala can leap almost 12 feet into the air.
Sergey Yeliseev via Flickr
Human Record Holder: The Olympic marathon record was set in 2008 by the late Samuel Kamau Wansiru of Kenya, who completed the race in two hours and 6.32 minutes. That's a speed of about 12.4 miles per hour over a course of a little more than 26 miles.
Animal Contender: The great snipe, a marsh-dwelling bird, can migrate across Europe from Sweden to Africa in two days without stopping for a rest. That's a trip of 4,200 miles at an average speed of 60 miles per hour.
Human Record Holder: At the 2004 Athens games, Hossein Rezazadeh of Iran lifted 263 kilograms during the Clean and Jerk in the heaviest weight class for lifters. That's about 100 kilograms more than his own weight.
Animal Contender: The rhinoceros beetle, which weighs less than an ounce, can carry 850 times the weight of his body. That's the equivalent of a human lifting a 65-ton weight.
Rob Hughes via Flickr
Human Record Holder: César Cielo of Brazil holds the Olympic record in the 50-meter freestyle swim, which he set in Beijing in 2008. His speed of 21.3 seconds comes out to 2.35 meters per second — a little over five miles per hour.
Animal Contender: The sailfish can swim at a speed of 68 miles per hour, which is more than 10 times faster than the quickest human. With his sword-like snout, he could probably give the Olympic fencing team a run for its money too.
GE Schmida © Australian Museum
Human Record Holder: The record for the long jump — currently the longest-standing Olympic record — was set at the Mexico games in 1968. Bob Beamon of the U.S. jumped 29 feet and 2.5 inches, breaking the world record by nearly two feet.
Animal Contender: The Australian rocket frog can make a leap of almost seven feet. Since the amphibian is only two inches long, that's over 50 times the frog's body length. Beamon's jump was impressive, but it was less than five times his height.
Check out more Vetstreet-exclusive coverage of the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
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