Man against beast – Michael Phelps versus great white shark


FOLLOWING the unsuccessful attempt by 28-time Olympic medal winner Michael Phelps to beat a great white shark in a 100 metres swimming race, there have been several instances whereby, in the past, an athlete has raced against an animal, beast or creature.

Record show that during the 1930s, the American sprinter Jesse Owens trained regularly by running against horses.

In October 2007, the South African rugby Union star Bryan Habana raced against a cheetah and lost.

Two years later, in December 2009, Detroit Lions wide receiver Dennis Northcutt also took on an ostrich over 40 yards – he won one race in a fenced off area but lost a second on open ground.

And two NFL players – Arizona Cardinals running back Chris Johnson and Chicago Bears punt Devin Hester – have also tried their luck by racing alongside cheetahs. They both lost straight course races.

And although it has never happened, technology says that when at his best, Usain Bolt would never have beaten a cheetah in a straight 100m race.

Even American gymnast Simone Biles tried to jump higher than a gazelle, but failed miserably.

• Footnote: To avoid Phelps being eaten on ‘live’ television, the shark was computer-generated, with its time based on the speed of its real-life counterparts through the water