- Full name Usain St. Leo Bolt
- Nickname Lightning Bolt
- Birth date August 21, 1986
- Birth place Trelawny
- Current age 29 years 254 days
Just as they thought that man would never run a four-minute mile, Usain Bolt continues to defy the limits of the human body, running faster than it had been thought possible, and breaking world records for fun. At a time when the reputation of athletics was struggling after countless high-profile drugs scandals, Bolt was a breath of fresh air for the image of the sport.
Despite his unconventional frame for a sprinter, with long limbs and standing at 6'5", Bolt showed potential from an early age, and under the guidance of former Olympian Pablo McNeil, began to enjoy success at national and then international junior levels.
In 2002 former Jamaican prime minister PJ Patterson arranged for Bolt to move to the capital Kingston to train, and in front of a home crowd at the 2002 World Junior Championships, Bolt became the youngest world junior gold medalist at the age of 15, winning the 200m in a personal best time of 20.61.
Bolt was already being dubbed the next Michael Johnson and, by the age of 16, he was running faster times than Johnson was managing at the age of 20. However, Bolt began to lose focus on his training, and preferred the fast food and nightlife that the city offered. He often played practical jokes on McNeil, on one occasion hiding from his coach shortly before a race.
Heading into the 2003 World Championships, he was ready to make his debut on the world stage, but conjunctivitis ruined his training schedule, and although he recovered in time, the Jamaican Amateur Athletic Association (JAAA) refused to let him compete, on the grounds that he was too young and inexperienced.
Bolt turned professional in 2004, but a hamstring injury ruled him out of most of the season. He made the Olympic team, but failed to progress past the first round after struggling with injury. He was offered a number of scholarships to American colleges, but Bolt turned them down, adamant that he wanted to stay in Jamaica. A change of coach and a new focused Bolt saw him qualify easily for the 200m final at the World Championships in Helsinki, but he suffered another injury blow, and finished last in the final.
Further hamstring problems ruled him out of the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, but he gained his first championship medal later that year, winning bronze in the 200m at the World Athletics final in Stuttgart, with a time of 20.10. Then, just a week later he went one better, taking silver behind Tyson Gay in the IAAF World Cup in Athens.
The 2007 World Championships signalled Bolt's opportunity to really make his mark, and a time of 19.91 in Osaka saw him finish second behind Gay. But Bolt was desperate to run the 100m, despite coach Glen Mills' desire to move him up to the 400m, and it was agreed Bolt could race at the shorter distance if he broke the 200m Jamaican national record, which had stood for 36 years. At the Jamaican championships, Bolt ran 19.75 to set a new record.
Bolt set the second fastest time in history, with a time of 9.76 at the Jamaica invitational. Then, in just his fifth senior race, Bolt set a new world record of 9.72 in New York, just three months before the Olympics. But it was in Beijing that Bolt became a global superstar overnight. Already a national hero in Jamaica, Bolt stormed to 100m gold in front of a packed crowd at the Bird's Nest Stadium, visibly slowing before the line and celebrating.
International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge condemned his chest slapping celebration as disrespectful, but Bolt insisted he was not bragging. Then in the 200m, on the day before his 22nd birthday, Bolt emulated Carl Lewis' 1984 Olympic double, to take his second gold medal, breaking a new world record in the process.
Just two days later, Bolt won his third gold medal as part of the Jamaican 4x100m relay team that set a new world record. His heroics in Beijing earned him a homecoming celebration in Jamaica and he was awarded an Order of Distinction in recognition of his achievements.
After recovering from minor injuries from a car crash in April 2009, Bolt won both the 100m and the 200m at the Jamaican national championships, despite not being at full fitness. He was the firm favourite to repeat his Olympic double at the World Championship in Berlin. And he didn't disappoint, storming to the 100m in 9.58 seconds, breaking his own world record by over a tenth of a second. Then, in the 200m, he won by a huge margin, the biggest in World Championship history, and setting a new world record of 19.19 seconds.
He suffered a major dent to his confidence as he failed to defend his 100m world title in 2011 after being disqualified for a false start in the final as his friend and training partner Yohan Blake claimed gold.
There were some concerns over the Jamaican's form heading into London 2012, but he silenced his critics in style, running the second fastest race of all time to become only the second man in history to defend his Olympic 100m crown.
He made history again just a few days later as he became the first man to do the double-double, winning back-to-back gold medals in both the 100m and 200m at consecutive Olympics, becoming in his own words, "a living legend". Although he did not break any world records in his individual events, the Jamaican 4x100m relay team smashed their own world record en route to defending their title.
Though the 200m may be his main event, the 100m final at the Olympic Games is one of the greatest sporting events in the world. The iconic image of the 2008 Beijing Olympics is that of Bolt, arms wide, celebrating as he crosses the line in the men's 100m final to take the gold medal. He finished well ahead of his rivals, and although he seemed to be slowing down well before the line, with his shoelace untied, he still managed to set a new world record, 9.69, beating his own world record set three months earlier.
After an impressive start to the 2003 season, Bolt was in good form ahead of the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki, but a bout of conjunctivitis saw his training suffer. Realising he was not at his best, he was blocked from competing by the JAAA on the grounds that he was too young, and he missed out on making his mark.
"I'm now a living legend. Bask in my glory,"
"I can't live outside of Jamaica. The first time I went out on the circuit, I was so homesick I actually almost cried because I wanted to come back home. I wanted to go home. I just can't be outside of Jamaica for long. That's why I didn't leave and go to the States."
"He doesn't just want to win races and medals, he wants to test the limits of human ability. I am happy for him and I congratulate him on breaking my record. And yet, despite all has achieved in Beijing, I still believe he can run faster and take both records even lower. There is still much more to come from Usain Bolt." Former 200m world record holder Michael Johnson
After winning three Olympic gold medals in Beijing, Bolt adopted a three-month-old Kenyan cheetah cub and named it Lightning Bolt.
- Bolt backs Gemili for greatness (Aug 30, 2013)
- Usain Bolt recovers to take win in Zurich (Aug 29, 2013)
- Jamaica warned of Olympics expulsion (Aug 22, 2013)
- Bolt chases sporting immortality (Aug 18, 2013)
Bolt keen on Commonwealth debut (Aug 12, 2013)