Human beings would be made to look decidedly unimpressive were animals allowed to compete in the Olympics -- outperformed by the likes of kangaroos, gorillas and ostriches, a science paper said.

Usain Bolt, currently the world's fastest man, may just be able to outrun a Dromedary camel but would trail the cheetah, greyhound and ostrich in a sprint race, said a feature in the Veterinary Record journal.

"'Citius, Altius, Fortius' (faster, higher, stronger) is the Olympic motto, but if we allowed the rest of the animal kingdom into the Games ... we could not offer much competition!" wrote author Craig Sharp.

Jamaican track star Bolt holds the 100m-record of 9.58 seconds, which translates into a speed of 37.6 kilometres per hour.

The world's fastest land animal, the cheetah, can reach speeds of 104 kph, a thoroughbred racehorse 70 kph, a greyhound 69 kph and an ostrich 64 kph, said Sharp of the Centre for Sports Medicine and Human Performance at Brunel University in London.

The camel comes in just behind Bolt at 35.3 kph.

The 2012 Olympics were officially opened in London on Friday evening.

When it comes to marathon running, the human athlete could not hold a candle to endurance animals like camels or sled dogs, and he would also be beaten in the long jump by the kangaroo (12.8 meters compared to the human record of 8.95 m).

The high jump record of 2.45 m would be smashed by the springbok gazelle, which can bound over three metres into the air, and the snakehead fish which can leap over four metres out of water.

When it comes to strength, human weight lifters would see themselves far outperformed by elephants, grizzly bears and gorillas, said the document.

"In pure physical events like running, jumping, swimming ... we wouldn't win anything," Sharp told AFP -- to the exclusion of technically-aided sports like tennis.

We humans have one advantage, though, in that no other animal is more of a Jack of all sports.

"What we are good at is being really versatile; we can sprint, we can run long distances, we can jump, we can swim, we can lift weights."

Pitted against the animal kingdom, "what we would do well at is a sort of decathlon of swimming, running, jumping, lifting," said Sharp.

[Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) on top of a rock, South Africa via]