In the 21st century, no athlete has exhibited grace, athleticism and a killer instinct like legendary Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt. He has eclipsed legendary American sprinters Jesse Owens, Michael Johnson and Carl Lewis as the single greatest sprinter of all time. Bolt is the closest thing to a perfect athlete since a 1990 Bo Jackson. It goes a long way to explain why he is the greatest athlete of the 21st century.
Bolt first burst onto the Olympic scene by making the 2004 Jamaican Olympic team and participating in the 200 meters race at the tender age of 17. He was quickly eliminated in the first round, making him that more determined to go back to the Olympics in four years. However, he suffered hamstring injuries and a minor car accident that caused him to underperform throughout 2005 and 2006. Having improved dramatically in 2007, Bolt began his reign of track and field superiority the following year.
At the 2008 Reebok Grand Prix on May 31 in New York City, Bolt set the world record for fastest time ever in the 100 meters with a time of 9.72 seconds. Then a few weeks later in a meet in the Athens, Greece, Bolt set the Jamaican national record in the 200 meters with a time of 19.67 seconds. He would destroy both records at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, as well as the Olympic and world records for both races. In the 100 meters final in Beijing, Bolt broke his own record with a time of 9.69 seconds. In the 200 meters final, he broke legendary American sprinter Michael Johnson’s record of 19.32 seconds with a time of 19.30. Bolt also became the first sprinter since Carl Lewis in 1984 to win the gold in both the 100 and 200 meters. He also led his Jamaican Relay team to gold in the 4×100 meters race. Unfortunately, earlier this year, that gold was taken away from Bolt and Jamaica after it was revealed that his teammate Nesta Carter tested positive for steroid use. Still, at only 22 years old, Bolt was on top of the world. He was only just beginning.
At the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Germany, Bolt shattered both his world records in the 100 and 200 meters with times of 9.58 and 19.19 seconds. He was destroying the competition like no one since the heyday of Jesse Owens. He was a man among boys. At the 2011 World Championships, he again won the 200 meters but was disqualified in the 100 meters by committing a false start. This would give Bolt added motivation for the following Summer Olympics in London. Once again, he dominated the Olympics. Not only did he successfully defend his gold medals in the 100 and 200 meters, he led his Jamaican Relay team to the gold in the 4×100 meters with a world record time of 36.84 seconds. This time, the gold medal stood. Bolt now had five Olympic Gold Medals. He still wasn’t finished.
At both the 2013 and 2015 World Championships, Bolt won the 100 and 200 meters. He became the first athlete in history to win gold medals in the 200 meters in four consecutive World Championship meets. He announced before the 2016 Rio Olympics that he would retire at the 2017 World Championships. Could he make his final Olympics a memorable and successful? He sure did by once again successfully defending all three of his gold medals. This made Bolt the first athlete ever to win gold medals in both the 100 and 200 meters in three consecutive Olympics, a record that in my opinion will never be duplicated or surpassed.
Bolt’s track and field career is unprecedented. Eight Olympic Gold Medals. Eleven Gold Medals in the World Championships. He is currently the world record holder in the 100 and 200 meters as well as sharing the relay team record in the 4×100 meters with his Jamaican relay team. For these incredible feats, Usain Bolt is the greatest athlete of the 21st century.
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