Usain Bolt – The End of an Era

Last night the fastest man alive hung up his running spikes for the last time. Having competed for 12 years he took part in 3 epic Olympic Games, Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro. Almost unbelievably Usain Bolt was the reigning Olympic champion for the 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m for 4380 days. Bolt was the first ever person to achieve the ‘triple treble’ which he was later stripped of in 2016. He lost the Beijing 4 x 100m gold medal as it was striped away from him and from his team members after Nesta Carter failed a drugs test.

It felt like a crime last evening as he limped off in his very last 4 x 100m after pulling a hamstring. Usain and the worldwide audience could only look on and watch as the rest of race sped past him.

The Jamaican team have blamed the lateness of the race as the reason for Bolt’s injury.

Where The Bolt Started

It all began for Bolt as he was argued with his friend over who was quicker. A local priest stepped in and offered the winner a free lunch. The two mates had the contest and Bolt was crowned the victor. The first win of so many more to come. By the age of 12, Bolt was the fastest at his school and by 15 he had won his first gold medal at the World Junior Championships in 2002. Usain Bolt is still the youngest world junior gold medalist ever. By this time Bolt was already towering near to his max height of 6’5.”

Throughout his career he has battled with Scoliosis, an abnormal curvature in his spine. This held him back through the start of his career, hampering his progress in such a way that it was preventing him from being spotted for his potential. However, in typical Bolt fashion he persevered and with the added support and belief from his performance team, who worked with him 24/7 to reduce the impact of this problem, he has never noticeably suffered from the condition.

The Bolt Legacy

Bolt has also ensured that his beloved home country has gained from his success over the years too. Ever since he began his sponsorship deals he has been able to direct support his home community. Bolt had written into his contract with Puma, that sporting equipment was to be sent to his high school in Jamaica every year. He also created the Usain Bolt Foundation to help Jamaican youngsters by providing sporting provisions and giving funding to excelling Jamaican athletes to help them on their way to success.

To support the economy back in Jamaica and to gain exposure for the country, you will see that virtually every one of the commercials Bolt is in, is filmed in Jamaica using a domestic production crew. Great for both tourism and wages.

Bolt even adopted an orphaned cheetah cub in 2009. He paid £10,000 initially and ever since then £2,300 per year. The cheetah is looked after in Nairobi at an animal orphanage and is aptly called Lightning Bolt. Figures like Bolt make a huge difference to charities like this one by adding their name to the cause and by doing so encouraging others to do the same.

Just because Bolt has now officially retired from athletics does not mean that he will vanish from the public eye. It is likely that we’ll continue to see him. I am sure that he will star in commercials and excel in the commentary studio. You will also see him on the news for his philanthropic activities. His legacy will continue to impact, inspire and benefit athletes over the decades to come.

On Track:

Finally there are of course the records he holds individually:

  • 100m: 9.58s
  • 200m: 19.19s

And the Jamaican relay team record:

  • 4 x 100m: 36.84

In the 4 x 100 Bolt ran his fastest ever 100m split, dipping well below the 9 second mark. He ran the anchor leg for the Jamaican team in around 8.70 seconds, helping them beat the US team. These records are a huge part of his legacy and they will likely last for a very long time. When they are finally beaten it will be by someone very special indeed.

Who will take over?

In his last ever 100 metres, Bolt was beaten for only the second time in a major competition. Coming in third place, behind Christian Coleman and the gold medal winner Justin Gatlin. Gatlin has only just managed to find form after his bans. However he is 35 years old, and far from being in his physical prime and it is very unlikely that he will be competing at the highest level for much longer.

Christian Coleman is a young up and coming American sprinter only 21 years of age. Coleman beat Bolt in the semi-final as well as the final. So far his personal best is 9.82 seconds, the fastest run this year by anyone. He has a long way to go to reach his full potential, but being so young he still has the time to reach this. He is one to watch for the future. There are many other competitors who are world class, but none who are likely to follow Bolt to world fame. He is a once in a lifetime athlete and who knows how long it will be before the world can look forward to seeing the next track or field super star to fill his boots.  After ‘The Bolt’, the 100 and 200 meters are going to be more competitive than they have been in a while.

Will a new record be set?

Ever since Bolt broke his own 100 meter world record in Germany 2009 mathematicians have been trying to work out if and when the record will next be beaten. Initially Bolt was adamant that he could best his record again, saying that he could run under 9.5 seconds. He was never able to do this and his record of 9.58 seconds still stands at the top of the leaderboard. But for how much longer?

Before Bolt, people were starting to wonder if we were reaching the physical speed limit of the human body. Times were stagnating in the 9.7’s, with the world record only decreasing by 0.07 seconds between 1988 and 2007. Then came Bolt, first posting a cool 9.69, and then a year later the 9.58. He decreased the world record by 0.14 seconds in two years. It took 19 years to decrease by half as much as Bolt did in 24 months.

Ahead of Time

Plotting the gradual improvement in world record times and extrapolating the data shows that Bolts 9.69 world record in 2008 should actually have come eight years later in 2016, and that the world record of 9.58 was 20 years ahead of its time. The world record should dip below the 9.60 mark in 2030. The figures emphatically show that Bolt has been a superb athlete who was well ahead of his time.

We do not know for sure when we can expect a new record to be set, however we do know that the current record is a long way ahead of the curve. It could be 20 or 30 years before the record is taken from Bolt, or just possibly, we could see a new prodigy dethrone the mighty Bolt earlier than anyone thinks possible.

It is undoubtedly the end of an era in which the outstanding, charismatic Usain Bolt has made one of the worlds most competitive races very predictable. The Bolt will be missed.

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