Usain Bolt’s records: best strikes from the Lightning Bolt
In the sprinting world, Usain Bolt was the undisputed dominant force in recent times.
Flip through any record book, be it for world records or best performances at premier athletics meets like the Olympic Games or the World Championships, and you will find the Jamaican sprinter dominating the sprint section singlehandedly.
Looking back, here’s a compilation of Usain Bolt’s record breaking achievements on the world stage.
Usain Bolt’s world records
Usain Bolt’s 100m records
Usain Bolt set the current 100m world record at the 2009 IAAF World Championships, clocking an astonishing 9.58 seconds for the feat.
At the record-winning event, Usain Bolt’s average ground speed was 37.58km/h, whilst reaching a top speed of 44.72km/h in the 60-80m stretch – numbers fitting for the world’s fastest man.
Usain Bolt, however, was already in possession of the title and was only bettering his own times.
The Jamaican first held the 100m world record in 2008 at the Reebok Grand Prix in the Icahn Stadium in New York. He clocked 9.72 seconds to beat fellow Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell’s record of 9.74 seconds set at the IAAF Grand Prix in Rieti, Italy, a year earlier.
In New York, Bolt beat US sprinter Tyson Gay, the then reigning world champion, by over a second to win the gold medal.
Just months later in August 2008, Bolt ran a 9.69 seconds at the Beijing Olympics to win gold in the 100m and better his own record. At the 2009 World Championships, Bolt was only putting his own record beyond the competition’s reach.
By the time he retired in 2017, Bolt’s 9.69 seconds at the 2008 Olympics was his third-best time in the 100m.
Though Tyson Gay in 2009 and Yohan Blake in 2012 equalled Bolt’s 9.69 seconds from Beijing, Bolt’s 9.58 seconds at the 2009 World Championships and 9.63 seconds at the London 2012 Olympics - still the Olympics 100m record - remain untouched by any runner in any official competition till date.
Usain Bolt’s 200m records
Though his achievements in the 100m made Bolt a superstar, the Jamaican’s pet event was the 200m. Bolt dominated that as well.
Like in the 100m, Bolt chose the 2009 World Championships in Berlin to set the 200m world record. The Jamaican won gold after clocking 19.19 seconds, bettering his previous record of 19.30 seconds at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Claiming the record for the first time, however, was quite a toil.
Chasing the legendary United States sprinter Michael Johnson’s long-standing record of 19.32 seconds set at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics, Bolt needed to better his previous 200m best of 19.67 seconds by quite a margin to stake claim on the record at Beijing.
The Jamaican, however, did just that, clipping 0.02 seconds off Johnson’s time to win gold and set both the new world and Olympic record in 200m. He beat his own world record at Berlin, but the Olympic record still stands.
In fact, Bolt’s 19.19 seconds and 19.30 seconds both feature in the top three best 200m timings of all time, with only countryman Blake’s 19.26 seconds at the 2011 Diamond League meet in Brussels interrupting a 1-2 finish for Bolt.
Usain Bolt’s 4x100m records
The 4x100m men’s relay has been thoroughly dominated by Jamaican teams over the past two decades and Usain Bolt has featured heavily in their tremendous success.
The current 4x100m record in men’s relay was set at the London 2012 Olympics by the Jamaican team involving Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake, Nesta Carter and Michael Frater. It still stands as both the world and Olympics record.
They clocked 36.84 seconds at the 2012 Olympics final, beating the 37.04 seconds the same team registered at the 2011 World Championships. The two are the top two-timings in the history of 4x100m.
Barring these, Bolt also holds the fastest time recorded in a 150m straight dash, finishing the race in 14.35 seconds at the 2009 BUPA Great City Games in Manchester, England.
Usain Bolt’s record at the Olympics and World Championships
For any track and field star, the Olympics and the World Championships are the holy grails and no one in history has even come close to dominating these events as Bolt has.
Bolt holds the 100m, 200m and 4x100m records in both the Olympics and World Championships. But these feats are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to illustrating the Jamaican sprinter’s sheer domination at these grand events.
Bolt at the Olympics
After a disappointing outing at the Athens 2004 Olympics, Bolt won gold in the 100m and 200m in three consecutive Olympics - Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016 - a feat no other sprinter in history has ever achieved.
“You think of the great sprinters of the past who have done things that have never been done before like Jesse Owens, Carl Lewis and myself. But none of us has produced, in my opinion, the consistency and longevity that Bolt has. So to this point, he has to be considered the greatest,” Michael Johnson once said about Bolt.
The closest comparison, perhaps, will be the legendary Carl Lewis, who won back to back 100m golds at the 1984 and 1988 editions, whilst clinching a gold and silver in the 200m events.
By setting the 100m and 200m world records at Beijing 2008, Bolt became the first sprinter since fellow Jamaican Don Quarrie in 1976 to hold both world records simultaneously.
Bolt had also won the 4x100m gold medals in all three editions but was unfortunately stripped off the Beijing medal in 2017 after teammate Nesta Carter failed a drug test.
Bolt at World Championships
From 2009 to 2015, Bolt won every 100m, 200m and 4x100m gold medals on offer at the biennial meet, barring the 100m at the 2011 edition in South Korea, where he was disqualified due to a false start.
With 11 gold medals, Bolt is the most decorated male athlete of all time at the World Championships. Overall, only American female track and field star Allyson Felix has more gold medals in the competition with 13.
The Lighting Bolt may have hung up his sprinting spikes in 2017, but Usain Bolt’s record is set to rule the running tracks around the world for years to come.