Usain Bolt will no longer be electrifying crowds with his speed on the track any longer, but the impact of the Jamaican speedster will undoubtedly live on. Bolt celebrates his 31st birthday today as a highly decorated, record-setting sprinter.
Usain St. Leo Bolt was born in Sherwood Content in the Trealawny Parish of Jamaica. As a boy, Bolt played cricket and soccer and was a standout in each sport. Coaches noticed his speed on the field and suggested sprinting, which led to the tutelage of former Olympic sprinter Pablo McNeil and his connection to coach Glen Mills.
At 15, Bolt’s legend began to grow at the 2002 World Junior Championships in Kingston. At the meet, Bolt took home the gold medal in the 200-meter dash, which marked him the youngest world-junior gold medalist ever. This culminated into Bolt winning the International Association of Athletics Foundation’s Rising Star Award that same year.
Two years later, Bolt made his country’s men’s Olympic track team which descended upon the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. It wasn’t a brilliant beginning for Bolt’s professional career due to a lingering hamstring injury that plagued him throughout his career.
Bolt’s breakout truly began in 2007 after he broke a 30-year-old 200-meter record held by his fellow countryman, Donald Quarrie, at the World Championships in Japan. From there Bolt began to apply himself.
In 2008’s Beijing’s Summer Olympics, Bolt broke the world record in the 100-meters and may have had a better finishing time had he not purposely slowed down to celebrate. He won two more gold medals in the 200-meter and 4×100 relay events, which was the first of his unprecedented “Triple Triple” gold medal wins.
At the 2012 London Summer Olympics, Bolt beat his own time in the 100-meters, and scored two more medals just as he did the in the Summer Games prior becoming the first man to win back-to-back gold medals in double sprints. In 2016 at the Rio Summer Games, Bolt repeated his gold medal tally for the third Olympics in a row.
The world’s fastest man showed a considerable decline this year. While he medaled in the World Athletics Championships, it was the first time he’d lost in the event in 10 years. His career officially ended on a bittersweet note after Bolt’s hamstring troubled him once more in the 4×100-meter relay.
While some would consider Bolt’s final race disappointing, nothing can take away his eight Olympic gold medals, adding to a tally of 23 gold medals total.
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