These days, everyone knows Usain Bolt is the world’s fastest man. Currently holds three world records (100m, 200m and 4x100m relay) and nine gold medals in track. But before the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing, the Jamaican sprinter wasn’t yet a household name. Let’s jump back in time for this chapter of SBS Remembers to hear the story of how Bolt set the globe on fire with his blazing speed. He won gold, shattered the old world record and cemented his place in history.
Beijing 2008. From an interview we know that Usain Bolt woke up late, ate some McDonald’s. Got a massage, took a nap, ate more McNuggets, went the arena, light warm up and destroyed the world record. Then he DJ’d the afterparty. And you may be saying “he didn’t really eat fast-food before the biggest race of his life, right?” Yup, he totally did. He loves McNuggets. Bolt estimated he was eating 100-160 nuggets a day. He did NOT mention anything about dipping sauces. If I had to guess, I’d say he sticks with classic ketchup. Or maybe that sweet ‘n sour. Either way, that’s insane.
If you watch the video, it looks like he slows down at the end because he knows he has won and starts to celebrate. It’s a ten second race and he had enough time to get a substantial lead, recognize it, and then start savoring the moment. He pounds his chest before crossing the finish line. It’s like he didn’t even try very hard and he still smoked the old world record.
Then broke the record for the 200 meter dash. Then won gold in the 4×100 relay. And did it all with style. Oh yeah, his shoes are made of solid gold. You’d think that weigh him down. But nah. One year later, Bolt would smash his own 100m dash time of 9.69 seconds and clock in at 9.58. The current world record. It’s pure bananas to drop a whole tenth of a second of the best time ever recorded. Maybe he really tried that time. This is why people say he is the fastest person to ever walk the planet.
Four years later in the London 2012 games, he did it again. Three more golds in the 100m, 200m and the 4x100m relay. Plus he helped break the old 4x100m relay world record he and team Jamaica previously set. He wasn’t aging, he was just getting faster.
In Rio 2016, Bolt took gold again in the 100m dash. Making him the first athlete to win gold in the 100m three Olympics in a row. That’s a serious feat. Sports reporters always call Bolt more of a 200m runner but we can officially put that idea to rest. He’s a sprinter. The best ever. No surprise when the 6’5″ runner used his huge strides to win the the 200m and the 4x100m relay. That’s gold in all three events he competes in, three Olympics in a row. Bolt has never lost in the medal round of a race. All his medals are gold. Like those shoes.
Whether Usain Bolt ever races again, his 9 gold medals in short distances make him one of the most dominate track stars we have ever witnessed. He is a total character and simply an astonishing specimen. I consider myself lucky that he raced in an era where I was watching. Future athletes make break his records but no one will do it like him.