The world is holding its breath in anticipation of something special from the greatest sprinter of all time.
When Usain Bolt bows into action on Saturday, August 13, he will be under the greatest pressure of his life. He has said this is his final go-round at the Olympics, and of course, he wants to defend his 100m, 200m and 4x100m titles to cement his status as a legend. Similar to last year’s World Championships in Beijing, China, Bolt is in questionable form, but he showed his rivals then that even when he’s battling injury and race rusty, it doesn’t pay to bet against him. And we won’t start doing that now.
Let’s take a look at his astounding Olympics record:
2004 – Athens, Greece: You might have missed Bolt’s Olympic debut 12 years ago, and he’d probably prefer it that way. The then 17-year-old, hampered by a hamstring tear, finished fifth in the first round of the 200m and did not advance.
2008 – Beijing, China: Bolt came into these Games the talk of the town, having just reset the 100m world record to 9.72 seconds a few months prior, and running the fastest 200m of the year (19.67 seconds) just weeks later in Athens. If anyone even remembered the 2002 200m World Youth Champion’s rather inauspicious debut, the finals of the Men’s 100m wiped it from their minds. Between the untied shoelaces, the chest beating about 70m into the race and the new world record of 9.69 seconds, who could even remember a time when Bolt wasn’t king? He followed that up with another world record performance in the 200m (19.30 seconds), eclipsing Michael Johnson’s previously untouchable 19.32. Yet another WR was to come in the men’s 4x100m as Bolt teamed with Nesta Carter, Michael Frater and Asafa Powell to run 37.10 seconds.
2012 – London, England: Bolt arrived in London on two missions: to retain his Olympic titles, and to make everyone forget that horrific moment in Daegu, South Korea the previous year when he had false started in the 100m final. That remains the only blemish on his otherwise spotless post-2008 record, because did he ever set the London track alight. He came from behind to win the 100m title in 9.64 seconds, and the 200m final was even more spectacular, as it was a 1-2-3 for Jamaica, with Yohan Blake taking the silver and Warren Weir the bronze. Bolt would later team up with Carter, Frater and Blake to obliterate the 4x100m world record set less than a year before in Daegu, dropping it from 37.04 to 36.84 seconds.
What will Rio 2016 hold for the legend? Athletics fans worldwide are hoping, once again, for more gold.
Tracey-Ann Wisdom is a freelance writer and editor based in Kingston, Jamaica. You can find her online at www.writtenbytracey.com.