Usain Bolt was a day under 22 years in 2008 but had already made some very significant ripples before shaking the world at the Beijing Olympics. He was the world record holder in the 100 metre event going into the Games and went on to better that at the Bird’s Nest stadium while slowing down for a little premature celebration.
Bolt had turned up for the 200 metre event too and eased his way through the initial rounds. Record-holder Michael Johnson, who had taken notice of the Jamaican when the latter was racking up the medals in 2002, had said that Bolt would easily win gold but he doubted if he would manage to break Johson’s record. There was a 0.9 m/s headwind on the day Bolt took the track for the 200 metre final but it didn’t matter. He finished the race in 19.3 seconds, smashing Johnson’s record and winning Jamaica’s fourth gold of the 2008 Olympics.
Bolt’s performance in Beijing catapulted him to international fame but he never took his eye off the prize. One year later, on the same day, he obliterated that record, managing to finish the race in 19.19 seconds.
Bolt retired from the sport in 2017 with his last act being the World Athletics Championship. He won Bronze in 100 metre event, thus making it the first time in almost 10 years that he missed out on a major gold. His final race was as Jamaica’s anchor runner in the 4x100m relay but he pulled up in agony with 50 metres and collapsed on the track.