IAAF World Championships: How Usain Bolt became a global superstar

Over the past 16 years, Usain Bolt has provided countless moments of majesty in a storied career.

The eight-time Olympic champion and reigning 100 metres and 200m world-record holder will retire after the IAAF World Championships in London.

He will be hoping to add to a record haul of 13 medals at the event – 11 of which are gold – before bowing out, but he has already cemented a legacy as one of the all-time greats, regardless of his performance in this swansong.

We take a look at the standout moments that led to Bolt establishing himself as a global icon.

2001

Bolt represented Jamaica at a regional event for the first time at the CARIFTA Games in Barbados in April 2001, taking silver in the 200m and 400m in the under-17 youth category. Three months later he made his maiden appearance on the world stage in Debrecen, Hungary, competing over 200m at the World Youth Championships. Bolt, aged just 14, failed to reach the finals despite clocking a personal best of 21.73 seconds.

 

I fell in love with sports from I was 12. Remember how much you loved it when you were a kid? Share the moment you fell in love with sports #LoveOfSports #Gatorade

A post shared by Usain St.Leo Bolt (@usainbolt) on Jun 16, 2016 at 9:59am PDT

2002

A return to the CARIFTA Games, this time held in Nassau, proved successful for Bolt, who took youth gold in the 200m and 400m and was part of the winning 4x400m relay side. His first world title came at the 2002 World Junior Championships in his native Jamaica when he won the 200m with a time of 20.61s – 0.03s slower than the personal best he set in the heats. Victory made Bolt the youngest ever junior world champion at 15 years and 332 days old.

2003

A haul of four gold medals in the junior level at the CARIFTA Games earned Bolt the Austin Sealy Award as the top performing athlete at the competition. He continued to dominate over the half-lap, winning at the World Youth Championships in Canada and at the Pan American Junior Championships, the latter by a time of 20.13s – an under-18 record that still stands. His time was quicker than the 20.30s registered by the reigning Olympic, world and European 200m champion Konstadinos Kederis that year, but the Jamaican Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) refused to let him compete at the senior 2003 World Championships due to his inexperience.

MORE: 2017 IAAF World Championships: Streaming schedule, how to watch

2004

Bolt turned professional and it quickly paid dividends as he became the first junior to break the 20-second mark with a time of 19.93s – another record that is yet to be beaten – at the CARIFTA Games in Bermuda, winning the Austin Sealy Trophy for a second time, having taken part in the 4x100m and 4x400m relay triumphs. Bolt was picked to represent Jamaica in the 200m at the Olympic Games in Athens, though a leg injury hindered his performance and he was unable to make it out of his heat with a disappointing time of 21.05s.

 

My Mom sent me these today.. Just a couple of the medals I won back in the days #Foreverfaster #borntorun

A post shared by Usain St.Leo Bolt (@usainbolt) on Mar 18, 2016 at 10:18am PDT

2005

Now under the guidance of Glen Mills, Bolt was back on the top of the podium in Nassau by winning the Central American and Caribbean Championships in 20.03s, going even faster at the British Grand Prix despite being beaten by Wallace Spearmon. Injury once again proved Bolt’s undoing on the biggest stage, though. After making it to the 200m final in his first World Championships appearance in Helsinki, he pulled up on the home straight and jogged over the finish line in last place with a time of 26.27s.

2006

A hamstring strain forced Bolt to pull out of the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, which were held in March. The Jamaican was triumphant upon his return in Ostrava in May and a new 200m personal best followed in July, with 19.88s seeing him finish third in Lausanne. Bolt earned his first senior medal on the world stage in Stuttgart in September by taking bronze in the IAAF World Athletics final behind Tyson Gay and Spearmon, and he went one better at the IAAF World Cup by securing a place on the second step of the podium.

2007

Mills had promised Bolt he would let him train for the 100m if he could beat the national record in the 200m and he achieved that goal at the Jamaican Championships in June, clocking a time of 19.75s to outstrip the mark set by Don Quarrie 36 years prior. As a result Bolt was entered into the 100m in Rethymno the following month and was fastest on the night at 10.03s. At the World Championships in Osaka, Bolt again had to settle for silver, with Gay completing a sprint triple – a feat which lay just around the corner for the Jamaican…

2008

Bolt continued to forge ahead in the 100m and produced a sensational time of 9.76s at the Jamaica International Invitational in May, just two hundredths of a second slower than Asafa Powell’s world record from a year prior. Bolt set his first senior world record later when he ran a 9.72s in New York City, establishing himself as the man to beat at the Beijing Olympics. The Jamaican proved unbeatable in China, lowering the benchmark in the 100m to 9.69s as he stormed to gold – famously slowing down and celebrating as he crossed the line – and surpassing American sprint icon Michael Johnson’s 200m world record of 22 years when he sensationally won the final in 19.30s. A third gold followed in the 4x100m relay, although it was later rescinded due to Nesta Carter’s doping violation. Bolt was named IAAF Male Athlete of the Year for the first of what would become six times and Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, an award he has won on four occasions.

 

Defining moment in history #tbt #Beijing #2008 #olympics #record

A post shared by Usain St.Leo Bolt (@usainbolt) on Apr 10, 2014 at 9:10am PDT

2009

Bolt’s preparations for the World Championships were hindered by a car crash in April, though the sprinter only suffered minor injuries. His domination looked set to remain unchecked as he completed a double at the Jamaican Championships despite confessing he was not in “the best shape”. At the World Championships in Berlin, Bolt took 11 hundredths off his 100m world record with a sensational victory in 9.58s to defend his title, a time that is yet to be surpassed. A stunning 200m time of 19.19s, vastly improving upon his previous best in the event, provided another world record and with glory in the 4x100m relay, the Jamaican matched the sweep achieved by Gay two years prior.

2010

With no major championships in the offing, it proved a quiet year for Bolt. Following wins in Daegu and Shanghai he sustained an Achilles injury after running the 300m in Ostrava. Although he returned in victorious fashion in Lausanne in July, only competing in the 100m, he suffered a rare defeat in Stockholm, finishing second to Gay’s 9.84s. The following week he announced he would not be racing again that year due to a back issue.

2011

Victories in Rome, Ostrava, Oslo, Paris, Monaco and Stockholm – including a world-leading 200m time of 19.86 set in Norway – sent Bolt to the World Championships in Daegu in a great position to claim three golds for the second successive competition. Bolt qualified for the 100m final but was left stunned when he was disqualified for a false start, fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake making the most of his absence by claiming the title. Bolt did not let the disappointment linger, retaining his titles in the 200m and 4x100m.

2012

Bolt’s dominance appeared under threat as, despite victories over Powell in the 100m in Rome and Oslo, he was beaten by Blake’s world-leading 100m and 200m times at the Jamaican Championships. Bolt made up for his defeat on the biggest stage, though. He won the 100m by improving on his Olympic record with a time of 9.63s and surpassing Blake’s 2012 benchmark in the 200m by topping the podium thanks to a 19.32s run. The pair then teamed up to help Jamaica to a world-record 36.84s performance in the 4x100m as Bolt became the first man to complete the ‘double-triple’.

2013

Defeat to Justin Gatlin over 100m in his first major race of the season in Rome may have led to concerns for Bolt with the World Championships just two months away and Gay the world leader heading to Moscow, having clocked 9.75s in the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. However, Bolt was the quickest man over 200m courtesy of his 19.73s in Paris, and once more he was indomitable at the Worlds. With defending champion Blake injured, Bolt regained his 100m crown ahead of Gatlin – the only non-Jamaican in the top five. He completed another sweep after beating compatriot Warren Weir in his other individual race and participating in the 4x100m relay final triumph.

2014

The start of Bolt’s season proved difficult as a minor foot surgery in March resulted in him missing nine weeks of training, with a hamstring issue also causing problems. He stepped up his training ahead of the Commonwealth Games and was rewarded with a gold in the 4x100m relay, but after an exhibition race in Copacabana and a win under a closed roof in Warsaw, the Jamaican pulled out of a Diamond League race in Zurich to bring a year of sparse action to a premature close.

2015

Gatlin had dominated in Bolt’s absence and the Jamaican clearly had it all to do to retain his throne at the World Championships in Beijing. Season’s bests in the 100m (9.87s) and 200m (20.13s) for Bolt were short of Gatlin’s world-leading 9.74s and 19.57s. However, he defeated the American by one hundredth of a second in the 100m final, joining Carl Lewis and Maurice Green on three world titles in the event. Bolt was one better off in the 200m with his fourth gold – a feat he also achieved in the 4x100m relay – after overcoming Gatlin again, pulling out a world-leading time of 19.55s to triumph.

2016

Bolt opened his season with a 10.05s run over 100m at the Cayman Invitational and dipped under the 10-second mark in Ostrava the following week, but once again it was Gatlin who went to the year’s main event with the fastest time having produced a 9.80s in Eugene. In the 200m, Bolt recorded a 19.89s in London – slower than both Gatlin (19.75s) and LaShawn Merritt (19.74s). Neither were able to take any of the Jamaican’s Olympic crowns, though, as he became the first man in history to complete the triple-triple by triumphing in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m for the third successive Games, cementing his place as one of the greatest athletes of all time. 

 

“Whenever you find yourself on the the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect” ~MT #Blessed

A post shared by Usain St.Leo Bolt (@usainbolt) on Aug 31, 2016 at 8:21am PDT

2017

Bolt was stripped of his 4x100m relay gold from Beijing 2008 in January after Carter tested positive for a banned substance upon re-analysis of one of his samples. He won his final 100m race in Jamaica in front of 30,000 fans in Kingston, and despite coming first in Ostrava he did not get under 10 seconds until registering 9.95s with victory at July’s Diamond League meeting in Monaco. Bolt heads to the World Championships with the joint-seventh fastest 100m time this year, with Christian Coleman (9.82s) the world lead.

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