“For me, I don’t think one championship is going to change what I’ve done. I remember, after losing the 100m, someone said to me, ‘Usain, don’t worry, Muhammad Ali, lost his last fight also, so don’t be stressed about that.’ And for me, I’ve proven myself year in year out throughout my whole career and I don’t think one championship or one race or the fact that I didn’t [win] my last race is going to change the fact of what I’ve done in the sport.” – Usain Bolt.
The world watched in disbelief and horror as the legend Usain Bolt, the presumed hope for Jamaicans, pulled up in the men’s 4x100m race in the 2017 World Championships following the third place position in the men’s 100m final.
“I came out here as always, I did my best. I’m always going to leave everything out on the track – it’s just one of those things that didn’t play by the book. But as I’ve always said, everything happens for a reason, that’s how I look at life, I don’t know why this happened, but personally, I feel that everything happens for a reason.” – Usain Bolt.
What has this taught us? Life is unpredictable, and we are all human and stuff happens that we may not necessarily be prepared for. We see this unfolding with the most naturally gifted athlete, Triple Triple Olympian and record holder. He knew from his winning of the double sprint in Berlin, while breaking both world records, that he was on his way to becoming a legend.
“I don’t need to prove anything else. What else do I need to prove to the world that I am the greatest?… I am never disappointed in anything I do. I have proven myself to the world; I have done great things; I have come back now from injury; I am not stressed… I am happy.” – Usain Bolt after winning the ‘Triple Triple’ at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
(Editor’s note: The ‘Triple Triple’ was later adjusted due to the disqualification of a Jamaican runner in the 4 x100 relays at the 2008 Beijing Olympics- Usain Bolt has lost one of his nine Olympic gold medals in a doping case involving teammate Nesta Carter.)
Before the race, after the race and sometimes even during the race, his antics make him a showman who always manages to sell out the stadium. People inevitably create a buzz basking in his comedic and genuinely positive personality and his entertainment on the track.
“Usain Bolt has been a revelation for Track & Field athletics,” said Jochen Zeitz, Chairman and CEO of PUMA AG. “He’s shined a global spotlight on the sport; his winning personality and phenomenal physical prowess are a unique combination. The way he both engages his fans and is energized by them has helped his popularity escalate to extraordinary levels over the past two years.”
The well-rounded 6’ 5” Jamaican track star has made his name in track and field, but he has been seen appearing at the stage of other sports. Bolt has been photographed playing golf, tennis, basketball, cricket, football, and activities like a disc jockey, dancing and rapping to name a few. He is an all-rounded kind of guy, don’t you think? He even has his own signature pose – ‘To di world’ or the ‘Lighting Bolt’.
“The gimmicks that I do are just to make me relax. When I get to the line, it makes me relax and not worry.” – Usain Bolt.
Regardless, his feat over the years cannot be deflated as a result of these series of events as the world has undeniably seen Bolt grow as an athlete and a genuine humble character.
“If there was a specific moment in which Usain Bolt stopped being a mortal athlete and became a sporting God, it was probably his chest-thumping ‘look at me now’ 100-metre record-setting victory at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.” – Usain Bolt Legend, Tribute to Usain Bolt from the Jamaica Gleaner.
He gives back to his community, the Jamaican children, and his family who have been supporting him since he started his career and far prior. He even contributed to his basic school and started the Usain Bolt Foundation, which opened opportunities for the less fortunate to benefit from.
“Growing up, I have seen a lot of kids struggle so it’s easy for me to give back. I will always try to find different ways to give back to the kids and to Jamaica as a whole.” – Usain Bolt
As far as settling down goes, he has been in a committed relationship with his girlfriend. Twenty years down the line he sees himself possibly starting a family and married to the love of his life; he will still be immersed in track and field but from the sidelines.
“[During my last lap, I stopped at the 100m and 200m] these were my two events that I dominated for years so I was just saying goodbye to everything. I think I almost cried, it was close. But I was just saying goodbye to my events.”–Usain Bolt.
He is world famous for his multiple victories on and off the track. One of the most notable is his ‘Man of the Year’ honor by the Gleaner Company Jamaica, the oldest newspaper in the English speaking Caribbean, in 2008, 2009, 2016 and 2017. He was also dubbed ‘Sportsman of the Year’ in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016 by the RJR Gleaner Communications Group and Laureus Sportsman of The Year for the fourth time (most recent being 2017).
“If you have been following me since 2002, you would know I have been doing phenomenal things since I was 15. I was the youngest person to win the World Juniors. I won the World Youth record at 17. I’ve broken every record there is in every event I have ever done… I’m just living out my dream now. I was always going to be great… I want to be remembered as one of the greatest athletes ever in the sport…but I also want to be remembered as a laid-back, chilled, fun-loving person who inspires others.” – Usain Bolt.
Bolt has been awarded many accolades, including Order of Distinction, Commander Class (2008), Order of Jamaica Ambassador at large (2009), as well as Doctor of Letters Honoris Causa. While there are legends in the time and space of track & field history like Jesse Owens, Bob Hayes, Carl Lewis, Bolt will always have his name etched as the greatest of all time.
Dr. The Honourable Usain St. Leo Bolt, OJ, CD, LLD (Hon) has ended what all consider a lucrative career on his terms, but his legacy will forever live on. Doubtless many generations will catch wind of his name in history books, television, stories, the list goes on. Thank you, Usain Bolt for your amazing contribution to the world and our ‘likkle but wi tallawah’ country Jamaica. You have made us and the nation proud time and time again. We are forever grateful for your dedication and commitment to the sport and your country.
Dedicated fans paying homage to Usain
“This man has managed to break records, win gold after gold… 3 world records, 9 [sic] Olympic gold medals, 11 world championships to be exact… dat nuh normal. what do we have to be disappointed about ??? Not one thing. This is not how we will remember his legacy, injuries happen when we least expect them to. Proud same way of what you have done! Unnu see how Omar start???? Unnu see how Julian dealt with Gatlin???? Big up yuhself Yohan! We love all of you, but Usain, you have just ended an incredible era and we thank you for everything. #teamJamaica #OneLastBolt” – Kaci Fennell –
(Editor’s note: The 9 Olympic gold medals were later adjusted to 8 due to the disqualification of a Jamaican runner in the 4 x100 relays at the 2008 Beijing Olympics- Usain Bolt has lost one of his nine Olympic gold medals in a doping case involving teammate Nesta Carter.)
“Dear King, I sat long and hard yesterday trying to find the words to express the gratitude, pride, and love I feel for you and I almost abandoned the idea altogether. It seemed like an impossible task, [but these words] (1) sum up your journey to the top with the sweat, tears, challenges, and triumphs; (2) sum up your contribution to this little/big nation; (3) sum up your impact around the world, the lives you’ve touched and the manner in which you have changed the sport FOREVER! On behalf of every little girl and boy who you have inspired, on behalf of every CITIZEN you dared to dream, on behalf of a NATION which you breathed life and hope into, on behalf of the WORLD you allowed to witness this phenomenal career… we thank you, thank you for being an inimitable, irreplaceable ambassador . No matter where you go, be reminded that we LOVED you YESTERDAY, we LOVE you TODAY and we will LOVE you TOMORROW. May that crown on your head never fall. Remain GREAT & GRACIOUS in victory and defeat Usain Bolt. LIVING LEGEND! Jamaicans, the baton has been passed, let us show unconditional national pride, support, and love for the upcoming ambassadors. Let’s help build them to where we know their talents are capable of taking them. Let’s help them BE THE NEXT! WE ARE JAMAICAN!” – Terri Karelle.
“What we are going to miss about Usain Bolt is not the three back-to-back Olympic Games or the clutch of world records or the medals…. It’s going to be because he has an opinion, he has a view, he fills a room. We have some really terrific talent that’s identified themselves at these championships, but that’s not the same as filling that void.” – Lord Coe.
A goodbye letter from Usain
“It has been a magnificent journey that I could not have traveled without the support of my family, coaches, advisors, and friends, and of course my fans in Jamaica and all over the world. It was not always easy. I had to work through and overcome injuries and many disappointments and setbacks throughout my career, but as I always say: ‘Anything is possible, I don’t think limits’. That is the message I would like to leave with all young people who aspire to achieve greatness whether you are an athlete, an artiste or just a hard worker in your job or career, trying to make it in the world. As I pass the baton and enter another phase of my career, I have every confidence in the ability of the upcoming generation of athletes, coaches, and administrators to keep Jamaica’s track and field at the pinnacle of world dominance. I will be there to help in any way I can and cheer you on from the stands and the sidelines.
Thank you, Jamaica. Thank you world for your support and for the energy that electrified me to become Lightning Bolt – Legend.”
By Alexandra Daley