Canadian soccer superstar Alphonso Davies isn’t one to be shy of breaking records. Davies has helped lead the Canadian men’s national team to their first FIFA World Cup since 1986, as well as becoming the first Canadian to win a Champions League title, with his German club Bayern Munich in 2019-2020. In 2020, he clocked the fastest speed ever recorded on a pitch when he was recorded at a blistering 36.5 km/h (22.69 mph) in a Bundesliga title-clinching game against Werder Bremen.
Everyone knows that speed is important for endurance sports, but how does Davies’s speed compare against some of the best sprinters in the world?
Growing up in Edmonton, the game of soccer has been Davies’s first love. His high-school teammate Onesphore Hamis recalls Davies as “naturally athletic,” and that soccer was the only thing he was interested in. After browsing all Edmonton and Burnaby middle-school track results between 2012 and 2014, it’s clear that Davies hasn’t touched the 100m blocks, which raises the question of what he would run over 100m.
What sets Davies apart from other players at the wing-back position is his first few strides. Davies can accelerate to full speed in his first few steps, similar to two-time Olympic women’s 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica. What makes Fraser-Pryce dominant in the 100m is her ability to get out of the blocks quickly and reach her top speed within seconds. Davies’s sprinting style is very different from Usain Bolt and Andre De Grasse, who have gradual sprint speed, which suits straight-lined sprinting events like the 100m, but is difficult to reach on a soccer field.
When Bolt played a brief stint with the Australian side Central Coast Mariners in the A-League, he had a bit of success scoring two goals, but scouting reports noted that the world’s fastest man lacked the agility of a professional striker. Bolt’s top speed in his world record-setting 100m was clocked at 27.8 mph (almost 45 km/h). Most sub-10 100m sprinters reach speeds upward of 40 km/h during the race.
Using the conversion based on (1 km/h = 360 seconds/100m) Davies’s top speed of 36.5 km translates to a 100m time of roughly 10-flat, but that assumes he’s maintaining his top speed for 100 per cent of the race. If we analyze his speed while chasing down one of the world’s top strikers, Norway’s Erling Haaland, it’s apparent he reaches his top speed between two and a half and three seconds after acceleration.
Now, if we consider his top speed while (hypothetically) wearing track spikes, starting from the blocks and maintaining his top speed for 70 metres of the race, that would result in a 100m time between 10.4 and 10.6 seconds–pretty fast for an athlete who isn’t a trained sprinter.
We have no idea how fast Canada’s golden boy is out of the sprinting blocks, but it is no secret that Davies is incredibly talented. With a few years of sprint and form training, we don’t see why he couldn’t reach an Athletics Canada national final in the 100m.