Usain St. Leo Bolt, OJ, CD (//; born 21 August 1986) is a Jamaican sprinter. Regarded as the fastest person ever, he is the first man to hold both the 100 metres and 200 metres world records since fully automatic time measurements became mandatory in 1977. Along with his teammates, he also set the world record in the 4×100 metres relay. He is the reigning Olympic champion in these three events, the first man to win six Olympic gold medals in sprinting, and a ten-time World champion. He was the first to achieve a "double double" by winning 100 m and 200 m titles at consecutive Olympics (2008 and 2012), and topped this through the first "double triple" (including 4×100 m relays).
Although gaining worldwide popularity for a sprint double victory at the Beijing Games, Bolt has had more victories as a 200 m runner. While he had not won any significant 100 m title prior to the 2008 Olympics, he had won numerous crowns in the 200 m event at the youth, junior and senior levels. Further, at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, Bolt completed a hat-trick of 200 m world titles by winning his third straight gold in the event. His 2009 record breaking margin for 100 m, from 9.69 seconds (his own previous world record) to 9.58, is the highest since the start of fully automatic time measurements.
Bolt's achievements in sprinting have earned him the media nickname "Lightning Bolt", and awards including the IAAF World Athlete of the Year, Track & Field Athlete of the Year, and Laureus World Sportsman of the Year (three times). He is the highest paid athlete ever in track and field. He has been called the world's most marketable athlete. By winning three gold medals at the 2015 World Championships, Bolt became the first athlete to complete a "triple triple", and also became the most successful athlete in the 32-year history of the athletics world championships.
On 14 February 2015, Bolt announced that he intends to retire from athletics after the 2017 World Championships in London.
Early yearsBolt was born on 21 August 1986 in Sherwood Content, a small town in Trelawny, Jamaica, and grew up with his parents, Wellesley and Jennifer Bolt, his brother Sadiki, and his sister Sherine. His parents ran the local grocery store in the rural area, and Bolt spent his time playing cricket and football in the street with his brother, later saying, "When I was young, I didn't really think about anything other than sports".
As a child, Bolt attended Waldensia Primary, where he first began to show his sprinting potential, running in the annual national primary-schools' meeting for his parish. By the age of twelve, Bolt had become the school's fastest runner over the 100 metres distance.
Upon his entry to William Knibb Memorial High School, Bolt continued to focus on other sports, but his cricket coach noticed Bolt's speed on the pitch and urged him to try track and field events. Pablo McNeil, a former Olympic sprint athlete, and Dwayne Jarrett coached Bolt, encouraging him to focus his energy on improving his athletic abilities. The school had a history of success in athletics with past students, including sprinter Michael Green. Bolt won his first annual high school championships medal in 2001, taking the silver medal in the 200 metres with a time of 22.04 seconds. McNeil soon became his primary coach, and the two enjoyed a positive partnership, although McNeil was occasionally frustrated by Bolt's lack of dedication to his training and his penchant for practical jokes.
Early competitionsPerforming for Jamaica in his first Caribbean regional event, Bolt clocked a personal best of 48.28 s in the 400 metres in the 2001 CARIFTA Games, winning a silver medal. The 200 m also yielded a silver as Bolt finished in 21.81 s.
He made his first appearance on the world stage at the 2001 IAAF World Youth Championships in Debrecen, Hungary. Running in the 200 m event, he failed to qualify for the finals, but he still set a new personal best of 21.73 s. Bolt still did not take athletics or himself too seriously, however, and he took his mischievousness to new heights by hiding in the back of a van when he was supposed to be preparing for the 200 m finals at the CARIFTA Trials. He was detained by the police for his practical joke, and there was an outcry from the local community, which blamed coach McNeil for the incident. However, the controversy subsided, and both McNeil and Bolt went to the CARIFTA Games, where Bolt set championship records in the 200 m and 400 m with times of 21.12 s and 47.33 s, respectively. He continued to set records with 20.61 s and 47.12 s finishes at the Central American and Caribbean Junior Championships.
Bolt is one of only nine athletes, (along with Valerie Adams, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Jacques Freitag, Yelena Isinbayeva, Jana Pittman, Dani Samuels, David Storl, Kirani James) to win world championships at the youth, junior, and senior level of an athletic event. Former Prime Minister P. J. Patterson recognised Bolt's talent and arranged for him to move to Kingston, along with Jermaine Gonzales, so he could train with the Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association (JAAA) at the University of Technology, Jamaica.
Rise to prominenceThe 2002 World Junior Championships before a home crowd in Kingston, Jamaica, gave Bolt a chance to prove his credentials on the world stage. By the age of 15, he had grown to 1.96 metres (6 ft 5 in) tall, and he physically stood out among his peers. He won the 200 m, in a time of 20.61 s, 0.03 seconds slower than his personal best of 20.58 s set in the 1st round. Bolt's 200 m win made him the youngest world-junior gold medalist ever. The expectation from the home crowd had made him so nervous that he had put his shoes on the wrong feet. However, it turned out to be a revelatory experience for Bolt as he vowed never again to let himself be affected by pre-race nerves. As a member of the Jamaican sprint relay team, he also took two silver medals and set national junior records in the 4×100 metres and 4×400 metres relay, running times of 39.15 s and 3:04.06 minutes respectively.
The flow of medals continued as he won four gold medals at the 2003 CARIFTA Games, and was awarded the Austin Sealy Trophy for the most outstanding athlete of the games. He won another gold at the 2003 World Youth Championships. He set a new championship record in the 200 m with a time of 20.40 s, despite a 1.1 m/s head wind. Michael Johnson, the 200 m world-record holder, took note of Bolt's potential but worried that the young sprinter might be over-pressured, stating, "It's all about what he does three, four, five years down the line". Bolt had also impressed the athletics hierarchy, and he received the IAAF Rising Star Award for 2002.
In his final Jamaican High School Championships in 2003, he broke both the 200 m and 400 m records with times of 20.25 s and 45.35 s, respectively. Bolt's runs were a significant improvement upon the previous records, beating the 200 m best by more than half a second and the 400 m record by almost a second. While Bolt improved upon the 200 time three months later, setting the still standing World youth best at the 2003 Pan American Junior Championships, it remains the No. 2 youth time. The 400 time remains No. 6 on all time youth list, only surpassed once since by future Olympic champion Kirani James.
Bolt turned his main focus to the 200 m and equalled Roy Martin's world junior record of 20.13 s at the Pan-American Junior Championships. This performance attracted interest from the press, and his times in the 200 m and 400 m led to him being touted as a possible successor to Johnson. Indeed, at sixteen years old, Bolt had reached times that Johnson did not register until he was twenty, and Bolt's 200 m time was superior to Maurice Greene's season's best that year.
Bolt was growing more popular in his homeland. Howard Hamilton, who was given the task of Public Defender by the government, urged the JAAA to nurture him and prevent burnout, calling Bolt "the most phenomenal sprinter ever produced by this island". His popularity and the attractions of the capital city were beginning to be a burden to the young sprinter. Bolt was increasingly unfocused on his athletic career and preferred to eat fast food, play basketball, and party in Kingston's club scene. In the absence of a disciplined lifestyle, he became ever-more reliant on his natural ability to beat his competitors on the track.
As the reigning 200 m champion at both the World Youth and World Junior championships, Bolt hoped to take a clean sweep of the world 200 m championships in the Senior World Championships in Paris. He beat all comers at the 200 m in the World Championship trials. Bolt was pragmatic about his chances and noted that, even if he did not make the final, he would consider setting a personal best a success. However, he suffered a bout of conjunctivitis before the event, and it ruined his training schedule. Realising he would not be in peak condition, the JAAA refused to let him participate in the finals on the grounds that he was too young and inexperienced. Bolt was dismayed at missing out on the opportunity, but focused on getting himself in shape to gain a place on the Jamaican Olympic team instead. Even though he missed the World Championships, Bolt was awarded the IAAF Rising Star Award for the 2003 season on the strength of his junior record-equalling run.
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