University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Life of Usain Bolt
Jamaican sprinter Usain St.Leo Bolt was born in Trelawny, Jamaica on August 21, 1986; to Jennifer and Wellesley Bolt. His siblings are a sister named Sherine and a brother named Sadeeki. Since a young age, Bolt was fascinated with sports such as cricket and football or soccer. He attended Waldensia Primary School and William Knibb High School. While at Waldensia School, Bolt was honored as the fastest runner over 100 m. When he entered William Knibb High School, his cricket coach, impressed by his height and speed, insisted that he should try track and field events. Dwayne Barrett and Pablo McNeil, a former 100 m Olympic athlete, guided him about improving his athletic abilities.
In 2001, Bolt won his first silver medal in the 200 meters with a time of 22.04 seconds at the annual high school championships. Bolt displayed his personal best of 48.28 seconds in the 400 meters and won a silver medal at the 2001 CARIFTA Games, a Caribbean regional event. He also finished the 200 meters in 21.81 seconds and achieved a silver medal. Bolt’s debut in a world level competition was at the 2001 IAAF World Youth Championships in Debrecen, Hungary. He did not qualify for the finals of the 200m event, but he set his personal best of 21.73 seconds. He set the record of 20.61 seconds and 47.12 seconds finishes at the Central American and Caribbean Junior Championships. Bolt moved to Kingston with the support of P.J. Patterson, the Prime Minister of Jamaica then, who saw the potential that Bolt possessed as an athlete.
At the age of 15, Bolt won one gold and two silver medals at the 2002 World Junior Championships in Kingston. He was a subject of attraction due to his exceptional height of 6’5″ and his extraordinary performance. He set his new personal best of 20.16 seconds in the 200 m. Bolt also displayed an amazing performance in the Jamaican sprint relay team, achieving two silver medals. He set national junior records in the 4×400 m and 4×100 m relays by finishing in 3:04.06 minutes and 39.15 seconds, respectively. He won a gold medal at the 2003 World Youth Championships and set a new record of 20.40 seconds in the 200 m. In his final Jamaican High School Championships in 2003, he broke the records in both the 400 and 200 meters, with 45.30 seconds and 20.25 seconds.
Usain Bolt became a professional athlete in 2004 under the guidance of his new coach Fitz Coleman. He started with the CARIFTA Games in Bermuda, where he was the first junior sprinter to run the 200 m in less than 20 seconds and broke the world junior record, previously held by Roy Martin. Bolt lost the opportunity to compete in the 2004 World Junior Championships due to a hamstring injury. However, he was selected for the Jamaican Olympic Squad, but was eliminated in the first round of the 200 meters due to a leg injury.
However, in 2005, Bolt got a fresh start under the guidance of his new coach Glen Mills. He scored the season’s best finish of 19.99 seconds for the 200 meters at the London’s Crystal Palace in July, of the same year. Bolt reached the top five on the world rankings in 2005 and 2006. He set his new personal best at the 2006 Grand Prix in Lausanne, Switzerland, setting the record time of 19.88 seconds. Bolt got his first major world medal at the IAAF World Athletics Final in Stuttgart, Germany. He won a bronze medal by finishing in a time of 20.10 seconds. He achieved his first senior international silver medal in the IAAF World Cup in Athens, Greece. In 2007, he finished the 200 m in 19.75 seconds at the Jamaican Championships and broke the record of Don Quarrie by 0.11 seconds. He won silver medals in the 200 m and 4×100 m relay at the World Championships in Osaka, Japan. On May 31, 2008, Bolt established a new world record at the Reebok Grand Prix in New York. He ran the 100 m event in 9.72 seconds and broke an earlier record of 9.74 seconds set by Powell.
After winning the 100 m, the 200 m and, along with his Jamaica teammates, the 4×100 m relay, all in world-record times, Usain Bolt scaled unpredicted heights in the 2009 Berlin World Championships, making a new 100 m world record of 9.58 seconds. He also broke his own 200 m record made in 2008 by 0.11 seconds, this time bringing it down to 19.19 seconds. Due to his remarkable performance; he was also honored as the IAAF World Athlete of the Year in 2008 and 2009. Although he could not make any new world records in 2010, Bolt comfortably won the 2010 IAAF Diamond League. Bolt wanted to break the 300 m record set by Michael Johnson in the Golden Spike meeting in Ostrava, but he could not do so due to an injury in his Achilles tendon.
After the recovery from the injury, which took a month, he came back to track and field and comfortably won the 100 m at the Athletissima meeting in Lausanne. He also defeated Asafa Powell in Paris at the Meeting Areva. However, he lost the race to Tyson Gay at the 100 m finals at the DN Galan. In the 2011 Daegu World Championships, Bolt was disqualified in the 100 meters finals because of a false start. He won the 200 meters in 19.40 s. He also won a gold medal in the 4×100 meters relay, setting the world record of 37.04 s, along with teammates Yohan Blake, Michael Frater, and Nesta Carter.
In the months leading up to the 2012 London Olympics, Bolt was widely criticized for supposedly not taking the competition seriously. After being beat the top spot at the Jamaican trials by Yohan Blake, there was widespread doubt over Bolt’s ability to defend his 2008 titles. Bolt later said that losing to Blake was a wake-up call just before the Olympics and it helped him “get his head in the game”. At the London Olympics, Bolt made history by becoming the first athlete to defend both the 100 m and 200 m Olympic titles, in addition to the 4×100 m relay, as part of the Jamaican team. The closest anyone had ever come to that achievement was Carl Lewis, who won the 100 m and the 200 m in the 1984 Olympics, and the 100 m in 1988.
Bolt is well known for his completely honest interviews as well as his speed records. After winning the gold medal in the 2012 Olympics 100 m, among widespread doubts about his fitness and attitude, he said to his critics, “All they can do is talk. I said it on the track”. In the same Olympics, he won the 200 m gold and then declared that he “is now a legend”, a claim refutable by few.