Usain Bolt, a name we’re all familiar with. A man who’s globally known as the Lightning Bolt for his lightning-fast speeds at the track. No sprinter has managed to achieve the level of success this man did. In the end, his flying career came to an abrupt end.
How did everything start for him? What made him retire early? What does science have to say about his inhuman speeds? If these are questions disturbing your mind, we have the answers in this post. All you have to do is read them.
Who is Usain Bolt?
Usain St. Leo Bolt, professionally known as Usain Bolt, is a retired Jamaican sprinter who holds the rarest of records a sprinter can only dream of. He was born in 1986, in a Jamaican small town known as Sherwood Content.
Bolt’s childhood was not as flashy as seen in his pictures, later in life. The village he grew up in is primitive, and pretty much disconnected from the world. It’s one of those areas in the world where fresh water is still scarce for the residents.
His parents, Wellesley Bolt and Jennifer Bolt ran a grocery store in the rural Jamaican village of Parish. Young Bolt spent his time mostly with sports. He even said in multiple interviews that his childhood was heavily influenced by world sports.
The very first glimpse of his potential as a sprinter was witnessed during his school’s sports events. By the age of 12, he became the fastest sprinter in the town. At that time, the only race he could participate in was the 100-meter races.
It was his father, Mr. Wellesley Bolt, who noticed his gift for running. Apparently, Usain Bolt was diagnosed with hyperactivity. In a distant memory of his mother, Bolt fell from the bed and was pulling himself up. That’s not the shocking part. The shocking part is that Bolt was only 3 weeks old at that time!
In a poverty-ridden rural area where most families complete their duty by having as many children as possible, Jennifer stuck to one. It allowed her to feed Bolt nutritious food. Needless to say, the early care resulted in optimum growth for this athlete that would help him win over the world in no time.
Professional Track and Field
One of the very first tournaments Usain Bolt ran in was the 2001 CARIFTA Games where he won the silver medal in both the 200 meters and 400 meters. Following the success of this Caribbean regional event, Bolt graduated himself to the IAAF World Youth Championships.
Although he failed to qualify for the finals of that event, he still managed to clock a personal best time. This record-setting became a pattern for his career from a very early stage. He also set records for both 200m and 400m circuits at the Central American and Caribbean Junior Championships.
The next big stage for the young sprinter was the 2002 World Junior Championships. This time, Jamaica was the host nation. By this time, Bolt is only 15 years old. But he didn’t look the part as he already grew 6’5” in height. He won his first gold medal in the 1st round for the 200m sprint. With this, he became the world’s youngest world junior gold medallist.
On a local level, Bolt has set plenty of records in 100m, 200m, and 4x100m races throughout his career.
By 2004, Usain Bolt came under the supervision of Fitz Coleman to become a professional athlete. The pair’s first tournament together was the 2004 CARIFTA Games, hosted by Bermuda. This is the tournament where he broke his first world record. The very first junior sprinter who completed the 200m sprint in less than 20 seconds!
When people refer to the flashy career of Lightning Bolt, they usually refer to his Olympics career. There is a common misconception that the 2008 Beijing Olympics is the first tournament for Bolt but that’s not true. He also attended the 2004 Athens Olympics games.
An injury didn’t allow him to win the 1st round of the 200m race. Also, the time he set took a hit. However, the talent hunters didn’t mistake picking up on his potential on the track. He was offered track scholarships from multiple US colleges. The opportunity would’ve let him train in the USA under the best of coaches while also retaining the right to represent his home country, Jamaica.
He refused, in classic Usain Bolt manner. He stuck to the University of Technology, Jamaica as his training ground.
In 2005, Bolt came under the professional coach Glen Mills. The year started on good notes as he managed to shave down valuable milliseconds from his 200 m time. He was up for the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki. Yet again, he fell victim to an injury, causing him to run 26.27s 200 meters.
A lot of things happened between 2005 and 2008. Let’s not get into them too much in this post. With more experience and advanced training, Bolt approached the 2008 Beijing Olympics with both 100 m and 200 m races.
The finish time for the 100 m race was 9.69 seconds, a new world record, breaking his own record. The spectators on the track as well as on TV witnessed him slowing down before the finish line to celebrate. If that wasn’t the case, he may have finished the race even faster!
Since the Beijing Olympics, Bolt has won 8 gold medals in 100 m and 200 m races. He also secured 2 4×100 m relay gold medals. He’s the only sprinter in history to hold the record for 3 consecutive gold medals in 200 m races. The races were from 2008, 2012, and 2016 Summer Olympics.
The Science Explaining How Usain Bolt Became the Fastest Man Alive
The inhuman display of speed from Usain Bolt has raised quite a few eyebrows. So, it was only a matter of time before scientists took interest in the secret of this Jamaican sprinter’s speeds. And they’ve cracked the code.
We could into the mathematical details of the drag coefficient and how it interacts with Bolt’s physique. But you’re not here for that, are you? Let’s try to keep this section as simple as possible.
Analysis of Usain Bolt’s frame shows that his physique is actually less aerodynamic than regular people’s. By this rule, he should’ve been way slower than he is. However, it’s his stride that made the insane speeds possible. Apparently, his twitch muscle fibers respond very quickly to change, compensating for the lack of aerodynamic body shape.
Records and Awards
In his career, Usain Bolt has broken numerous records. And for breaking these records, he has won many awards. Let’s try to list the most notable ones right here.
- Fastest run 150 meters (male)
- Most consecutive Olympic gold medals won in 100 & 200 meters
- Fastest run 200 meters
- Fastest relay 4×100 meters
- Highest annual earnings for a track athlete
- 27.79 mph top speed
- IAAF World Athlete of the Year
- Track and Field Athlete of the Year
- Laureus World Sportsman of the Year
- BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year
- Jamaica Sportsman of the year
- L’Équipe Champion of Champions
Injury and Retirement
As you can see, this Jamaican athlete has been dealing with injuries since the very beginning of his career. In the end, he had to surrender to an injury as well. During the 2017 World Championships in London, he sustained a serious hamstring injury that forced him to retire from sprinting.