Hi everyone and welcome to the blog. This week’s blog is dedicated the king of sprinting Usain Bolt, who celebrates his birthday this week and to the country of his birth Jamaica, who celebrated 50 years of independence this month.
Usain Bolt was born Usain St. Leo Bolt on 21 August 1986 in Sherwood Content, a small town in Trelawny, Jamaica, and grew up with his parents, Wellesley and Jennifer Bolt, his brother Sadiki, and his sister Sherine. His parents ran the local grocery store in the rural area, and Bolt spent his time playing cricket and football in the street with his brother, later saying, "When I was young, I didn’t really think about anything other than sports".
As a child, Bolt attended Waldensia Primary, where he first began to show his sprinting potential, running in the annual national primary-schools' meeting for his parish. By the age of twelve, Bolt had become the school's fastest runner over the 100 metres distance.
Upon his entry to William Knibb Memorial High School, Bolt continued to focus on other sports, but his cricket coach noticed Bolt's speed on the pitch and urged him to try track and field events. Pablo McNeil, a former Olympic sprint athlete, and Dwayne Jarrett coached Bolt, encouraging him to focus his energy on improving his athletic abilities. The school had a history of success in athletics with past students, including sprinter Michael Green. Bolt won his first annual high school championships medal in 2001, taking the silver medal in the 200 metres with a time of 22.04 seconds. McNeil soon became his primary coach, and the two enjoyed a positive partnership, although McNeil was occasionally frustrated by Bolt's lack of dedication to his training and his penchant for practical jokes.
Performing for Jamaica in his first Caribbean regional event, Bolt clocked a personal best of 48.28s in the 400 metres in the 2001 CARIFTA Games, winning a silver medal. The 200 m also yielded a silver medal as Bolt finished in 21.81s.
He made his first appearance on the world stage at the 2001 IAAF World Youth Championships in Debrecen, Hungary. Running in the 200 m event, he failed to qualify for the finals, but he still set a new personal best of 21.73s. Bolt still did not take athletics or himself too seriously, however, and he took his mischievousness to new heights by hiding in the back of a van when he was supposed to be preparing for the 200 m finals at the CARIFTA Trials. He was detained by the police for his practical joke, and there was an outcry from the local community, which blamed coach McNeil for the incident. However, the controversy subsided, and both McNeil and Bolt went to the CARIFTA Games, where Bolt set championship records in the 200 m and 400 m with times of 21.12s and 47.33s, respectively. He continued to set records with 20.61s and 47.12s finishes at the Central American and Caribbean Junior Championships.
Bolt is one of only 8 athletes, (along with Valerie Adams, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Jacques Freitag, Yelena Isinbayeva, Jana Pittman, Dani Samuels) to win world championships at the youth, junior, and senior level of an athletic event. Former Prime Minister P. J. Patterson recognised Bolt's talent and arranged for him to move to Kingston, along with Jermaine Gonzales, so he could train with the Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association (JAAA) at the University of Technology, Jamaica.
The 2002 World Junior Championships before a home crowd in Kingston, Jamaica, gave Bolt a chance to prove his credentials on the world stage. By the age of 15, he had grown to 1.96 metres (6 ft 5 in) tall, and he physically stood out amongst his peers. He won the 200 m, in a time of 20.61s, 0.03 seconds slower than his personal best of 20.58s set in the 1st round. Bolt's 200 m win made him the youngest world-junior gold medalist ever. The expectation from the home crowd had made him so nervous that he had put his shoes on the wrong feet. However, it turned out to be a revelatory experience for Bolt as he vowed never again to let himself be affected by pre-race nerves. As a member of the Jamaican sprint relay team, he also took two silver medals and set national junior records in the 4×100 metres and 4×400 metres relay, running times of 39.15s and 3:04.06 minutes respectively.
The flow of medals continued as he won four gold medals at the 2003 CARIFTA Games, and was awarded the Austin Sealy Trophy for the most outstanding athlete of the games. He won another gold at the 2003 World Youth Championships. He set a new championship record in the 200 m with a time of 20.40 s, despite a 1.1 m/s head wind. Michael Johnson, the 200 m world-record holder, took note of Bolt's potential but worried that the young sprinter might be over-pressured, stating, "It's all about what he does three, four, five years down the line". Bolt had also impressed the athletics hierarchy, and he received the IAAF Rising Star Award for 2002.
Bolt turned his main focus to the 200 m and equalled Roy Martin's world junior record of 20.13s at the Pan-American Junior Championships. This performance attracted interest from the press, and his times in the 200 m and 400 m led to him being touted as a possible successor to Johnson. Indeed, at sixteen years old, Bolt had reached times that Johnson did not register until he was twenty, and Bolt's 200 m time was superior to Maurice Greene's season's best that year.
In his final Jamaican High School Championships in 2003, he broke both the 200 m and 400 m records with times of 20.25s and 45.35s, respectively. Bolt's runs were a significant improvement upon the previous records, beating the 200 m best by more than half a second and the 400 m record by almost a second.
Bolt was growing more popular in his homeland. Howard Hamilton, who was given the task of Public Defender by the government, urged the JAAA to nurture him and prevent burnout, calling Bolt "the most phenomenal sprinter ever produced by this island". His popularity and the attractions of the capital city were beginning to be a burden to the young sprinter. Bolt was increasingly unfocused on his athletic career and preferred to eat fast food, play basketball, and party in Kingston's club scene. In the absence of a disciplined lifestyle, he became ever-more reliant on his natural ability to beat his competitors on the track.
As the reigning 200 m champion at both the World Youth and World Junior championships, Bolt hoped to take a clean sweep of the world 200 m championships in the Senior World Championships in Paris. Bolt beat all comers at the 200 m in the World Championship trials, but he was pragmatic about his chances and noted that, even if he did not make the final, he would consider setting a personal best a success. However, he suffered a bout of conjunctivitis before the event, and it ruined his training schedule. Realising he would not be in peak condition, the JAAA refused to let him participate in the finals on the grounds that he was too young and inexperienced. Bolt was dismayed at missing out on the opportunity, but focused on getting himself in shape to gain a place on the Jamaican Olympic team instead. Even though he missed the World Championships, Bolt was awarded the IAAF Rising Star Award for the 2003 season on the strength of his junior record-equalling run.
Under the guidance of new coach Fitz Coleman, Bolt turned professional in 2004, beginning with the CARIFTA Games in Bermuda. He became the first junior sprinter to run the 200 m in under twenty seconds, taking the world junior record outright with a time of 19.93s. For the second time in the role, he was awarded the Austin Sealy Trophy for the most outstanding athlete of the 2004 CARIFTA Games. A hamstring injury in May ruined Bolt's chances of competing in the 2004 World Junior Championships, but he was still chosen for the Jamaican Olympic squad. Bolt headed to the 2004 Athens Olympics with confidence and a new record on his side. However, he was hampered by a leg injury and was eliminated in the first round of the 200 metres with a disappointing time of 21.05s. American colleges offered Bolt track scholarships on the strength of his performances, but the teenager from Trelawny refused them all, stating that he was content to stay in his homeland of Jamaica. Bolt instead chose the surroundings of the University of Technology, Jamaica, as his professional training ground, staying with the university's primitive track and weight room that had served him well in his amateur years.
The year 2005 signalled a fresh start for Bolt in the form of a new coach, Glen Mills, and a new attitude to athletics. Mills recognised Bolt's potential and aimed to cease the sprinter's unprofessional approach to the sport. Bolt began training with Mills in preparation for the upcoming athletics season, partnering with more-seasoned sprinters such as Kim Collins and Dwain Chambers. The year began well, and in July he knocked more than a third of a second off the 200 m CAC Championship record with a run of 20.03s, then registered his 200 m season's best at London's Crystal Palace, running in 19.99s. Misfortune awaited Bolt at the next major event, the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki. Bolt felt that both his work ethic and athleticism had much improved since the 2004 Olympics, and he saw the World Championships as a way to live up to expectations, stating, "I really want to make up for what happened in Athens. Hopefully, everything will fall into place". Bolt qualified with runs under 21’s, but he suffered an injury in the final, finishing in last place with a time of 26.27s. Injuries were preventing him from completing a full professional athletics season, and the eighteen-year-old Bolt still had not proven his mettle in the major world-athletics competitions. Bolt was involved in a car accident in November, and although he suffered only minor facial lacerations, his training schedule was further upset. His manager, Norman Peart, made Bolt's training less intensive, and he had fully recuperated the following week. Bolt had continued to improve his performances, and he reached the world top-5 rankings in 2005 and 2006. Peart and Mills stated their intentions to push Bolt to do longer sprinting distances with the aim of making the 400 m event his primary event by 2007 or 2008. Bolt was less enthusiastic, and demanded that he feel comfortable in his sprinting. He suffered another hamstring injury in March 2006, forcing him to withdraw from the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, and he did not return to track events until May. After his recovery, Bolt was given new training exercises to improve flexibility, and the plans to move him up to the 400 m event were put on hold.
Upon his return to competition, the 200 m remained his primary event, and he beat Justin Gatlin's meet record in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Bolt had aspired to run under twenty seconds to claim a season's best but, despite the fact that bad weather had impaired his run, he was happy to end the meeting with just the victory. However, a sub-20-second finish was soon his, as he set a new personal best of 19.88s at the 2006 Athletissima Grand Prix in Lausanne, Switzerland, finishing behind Xavier Carter and Tyson Gay to earn a bronze medal. Bolt had focused his athletics aims, stating that 2006 was a year to gain experience. Also, he was more keen on competing over longer distances, setting his sights on running regularly in both 200 m and 400 m events within the next two years. Bolt claimed his first major world medal two months later at the IAAF World Athletics Final in Stuttgart, Germany. He passed the finishing post with a time of 20.10s, gaining a bronze medal in the process. The IAAF World Cup in Athens, Greece, yielded Bolt's first senior international silver medal. Wallace Spearmon from the United States won gold with a championship record time of 19.87s, beating Bolt's respectable time of 19.96s. Further 200 m honours on both the regional and international stages awaited Bolt in 2007. He yearned to run in the 100 metres but Mills was sceptical, believing that Bolt was better suited for middle distances. The coach cited the runner's difficulty in smoothly starting out of the blocks, and poor habits such as looking back at opponents in sprints. Mills told Bolt that he could run the shorter distance if he broke the 200 m national record. In the Jamaican Championships, he ran 19.75s in the 200 m, breaking the 36-year-old Jamaican record held by Don Quarrie by 0.11s.
Mills complied with Bolt's demand to run in the 100 m, and he was entered to run the event at the 23rd Vardinoyiannia meeting in Rethymno, Crete. In his debut tournament run, he set a personal best of 10.03s, winning the gold medal and feeding his enthusiasm for the event.
He built on this achievement at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan, winning a silver medal. Bolt recorded 19.91s with a headwind of 0.8 m/s but this paled in comparison with Tyson Gay's time of 19.76s, which set a new championship record.
The Jamaican national record fell when Bolt partnered with Asafa Powell, Marvin Anderson, and Nesta Carter in the 4×100 metres relay. However, their finish in 37.89s was not enough to beat the Americans' time of 37.78s. Bolt did not win any gold medals at the major tournaments in 2007, but Mills felt that Bolt's technique was much improved, pinpointing improvements in Bolt's balance at the turns over 200 m and an increase in his stride frequency, giving him more driving power on the track.
The silver medals from the 2007 Osaka World Championships boosted Bolt's desire to run, and he took a more serious, more mature stance towards his career. Bolt continued to develop in the 100 m, and he entered to run in the event at the Jamaica Invitational in Kingston. On 3 May 2008, Bolt ran a time of 9.76s, aided by a tail wind of 1.8 m/s, considerably improving upon his previous personal best of 10.03s. This was the second-fastest legal performance in the history of the event, second only to compatriot Asafa Powell's 9.74s record set the previous year in Rieti, Italy. Rival Tyson Gay lauded the performance, praising Bolt's form and technique especially. Michael Johnson, who was observing the race, said that he was shocked at how quickly he had improved over the 100 m distance. The Jamaican surprised even himself with the time, but coach Glen Mills remained confident that there was more to come.
Mills' prediction came true before the end of the month when Bolt established a new 100 m world record on 31 May 2008. Pushed on by a tail wind of 1.7 m/s, Bolt ran 9.72s at the Reebok Grand Prix held in the Icahn Stadium in New York City, breaking Powell's record. The record time was even more remarkable in light of the fact that it was only his fifth senior run over the distance. Gay again finished second and said of Bolt "It looked like his knees were going past my face". Commentators noted that Bolt appeared to have gained a psychological advantage over fellow Olympic contender Gay.
In June 2008, Bolt responded to claims that he was a lazy athlete, saying that the comments were unjustified, and he trained hard to achieve his potential. However, he surmised that such comments stemmed from his lack of enthusiasm for the 400 metres event, and chose to not make the effort to train for distance running. Turning his efforts to the 200 m, Bolt proved that he could excel in multiple events—first setting the world-leading time in Ostrava, then breaking the national record for the second time with a 19.67s finish in Athens, Greece. Although Mills still preferred that Bolt focus on the longer distances, the acceptance of Bolt's demand to run in the 100 m worked for both sprinter and trainer. Bolt was more focused in practice, and a training schedule to boost his top speed and his stamina, in preparation for the Olympics, had improved both his 100 m and 200 m times. His confidence was building, and he was sure that he would perform well in the upcoming Olympics.
Bolt announced that he would double-up with the 100 metres and 200 metres events at the Beijing Summer Olympics, and the new 100 m world-record holder was the favourite to win both. Michael Johnson, the 200 m and 400 m record holder, personally backed the sprinter, saying that he did not believe that a lack of experience would work against him. Bolt qualified for the 100 m final with times of 9.92s and 9.85s in the quarter-finals and semifinals, respectively.
In the Olympic 100 m final, Bolt broke new ground, winning in 9.69s (unofficially 9.683s) with a reaction time of 0.165s. This was an improvement upon his own world record, and he was well ahead of second-place finisher Richard Thompson, who finished in 9.89s. Not only was the record set without a favourable wind (+0.0 m/s), but he also visibly slowed down to celebrate before he finished and his shoelace was untied. Bolt's coach reported that, based upon the speed of Bolt's opening 60 m, he could have finished with a time of 9.52s. After scientific analysis of Bolt's run by the Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics at the University of Oslo, Hans Eriksen and his colleagues also predicted a sub 9.60s time. Considering factors such as Bolt's position, acceleration and velocity in comparison with second-place-finisher Thompson, the team estimated that Bolt could have finished in 9.55±0.04 s had he not slowed to celebrate before the finishing line.
Bolt stated that setting a record was not a priority for him, and that his goal was just to win the gold medal, Jamaica's first of the 2008 Games. Olympic medalist Kriss Akabusi construed Bolt's chest slapping before the finish line as showboating, noting that the actions cost Bolt an even faster record time. IOC president Jacques Rogge also condemned the Jamaican's actions as disrespectful. Bolt denied that this was the purpose of his celebration by saying, "I wasn't bragging. When I saw I wasn't covered, I was just happy". Lamine Diack, president of the IAAF, supported Bolt and said that his celebration was appropriate given the circumstances of his victory. Jamaican government minister Edmund Bartlett also defended Bolt's actions, stating, "We have to see it in the glory of their moment and give it to them. We have to allow the personality of youth to express itself".
Bolt then focused on attaining a gold medal in the 200 m event, aiming to emulate Carl Lewis' double win in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Michael Johnson felt that Bolt would easily win gold but believed that his own world record of 19.32s set at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta would remain intact at the Olympics. Bolt eased through the first and second rounds of the 200 m, jogging towards the end of his run both times. He won his semifinal and progressed to the final as the favourite to win. Retired Jamaican sprinter Don Quarrie praised Bolt, saying he was confident that Johnson's record could be beaten. The following day, at the final, he won Jamaica's fourth gold of the Games, setting a new world and Olympic record of 19.30 s. Johnson's record fell despite the fact that Bolt was impeded by a 0.9 m/s headwind. The feat made him the first sprinter since Quarrie to hold both 100 m and 200 m world records simultaneously and the first since the introduction of electronic timing. Furthermore, Bolt became the first sprinter to break both records at the same Olympics. Unlike in the 100 m final, Bolt sprinted hard all the way to the finishing line in the 200 m race, even dipping his chest to improve his time. Following the race, "Happy Birthday" was played over the stadium's sound system as his 22nd birthday would begin at midnight.
Two days later, Bolt ran as the third leg in the Jamaican 4x100 metres relay team, increasing his gold medal total to three. Along with teammates Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, and Asafa Powell, Bolt broke another world and Olympic record, their 37.10s finish breaking the previous record by three tenths of a second. Powell, who anchored the team to the finishing line, lamented the loss of his 100 m record to Bolt but showed no animosity towards his Jamaican rival, stating that he was delighted to help him set his third world record. Following his victories, Bolt donated US$50,000 to the children of the Sichuan province of China to help those harmed by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
Bolt's record-setting runs caused commentators not only to praise his achievements but also to speculate about his potential to become one of the most successful sprinters ever. Critics hailed his Olympic success as a new beginning for a sport that had long suffered through high-profile drug scandals. The previous six years had seen the BALCO scandal, Tim Montgomery and Justin Gatlin stripped of their 100 m world records, and Marion Jones returning three Olympic gold medals. All three sprinters were disqualified from athletics after drugs tests detected banned substances in their systems. Bolt's record-breaking performances caused suspicion among some commentators, including Victor Conte, and the lack of an independent Caribbean anti-doping federation raised more concerns. The accusations of drug use were vehemently rejected by Glen Mills (Bolt's coach) and Herb Elliott (the Jamaican athletics team doctor). Elliott, a member of the IAAF anti-doping commission, urged those concerned about the issue to "come down and see our programme, come down and see our testing, we have nothing to hide". Mills had been equally ardent that Bolt was a clean athlete, declaring to the Jamaica Gleaner: "We will test any time, any day, any part of the body...[he] doesn't even like to take vitamins". Bolt stated that he had been tested four times prior to the Olympics, and all had tested negative for banned substances. He also welcomed anti-doping authorities to test him to prove that he was clean, stating, "We work hard and we perform well and we know we're clean".
“I was slowing down long before the finish and wasn't tired at all. I could have gone back to the start and done it all over again.” —Usain Bolt's thoughts on his 100m sprint at the 2008 Olympics, published in his autobiography Usain Bolt 9.58
The end of the 2008 athletics season saw Bolt compete in the ÅF Golden League, beginning in Weltklasse Zürich. Despite having the slowest start among his competitors in the 100 m race, he still crossed the finishing line in 9.83s. Even though the time was slower than both his newly set world record and Asafa Powell's track record, it was still among the top-fifteen 100 m finishes by any sprinter to that date. Bolt admitted that he was not running at full strength, suffering from a cold, but he had concentrated on both winning the race and finishing the season in good health. At the Super Grand Prix final in Lausanne, Bolt ran his second-fastest 200 m with a time of 19.63s, equalling Xavier Carter's track record. However, it was the 100 m final, featuring Asafa Powell, that drew the most interest. Powell had moved closer to Bolt's world record after setting a new personal best of 9.72s, reaffirming his status as Bolt's main contender. Bolt's final event of the season came three days later at the Golden League final in Brussels. This was the first 100 m race featuring both Bolt and Powell since the final in the Olympics. Both Jamaicans broke the track record, but Bolt came out on top with a time of 9.77s, beating Powell by 0.06 s. Victory, however, did not come as smoothly as it had in Beijing. Bolt made the slowest start of the nine competitors and had to recover ground in cold conditions and against a 0.9 m/s headwind. Yet the results confirmed Jamaican dominance in the 100 m, with nine of the ten-fastest legal times in history being recorded by either Bolt or Powell. On his return to Jamaica, Bolt was honoured in a homecoming celebration and received an Order of Distinction in recognition of his achievements at the Olympics.
He was selected as the IAAF Male Athlete of the year and won a Special Olympic Award for his performances. However, Bolt turned his attention to future events, suggesting that he could aim to break the 400 metres world record in 2010 as no major championships were scheduled that year.
Bolt started the season competing over 400 metres in order to improve his speed, winning two races and registering 45.54 s in Kingston, and windy conditions gave him his first sub-10 second finish of the season in the 100 m in March. In late April Bolt suffered minor leg injuries in a car crash. However, he quickly recovered following minor surgery and (after cancelling a track meet in Jamaica) he stated that he was fit to compete in the 150 metres street race at the Manchester Great City Games. Bolt won the race in 14.35 s, the fastest time ever recorded for 150 m. Despite not being at full fitness, he took the 100 and 200 m titles at the Jamaican national championships, with runs of 9.86s and 20.25s respectively. This meant he had qualified for both events at the 2009 World Championships. Rival Tyson Gay suggested that Bolt's 100 m record was within his grasp, but Bolt dismissed the claim and instead noted that he was more interested in Asafa Powell's return from injury. Bolt defied unfavourable conditions at the Athletissima meet in July, running 19.59 seconds into a 0.9 m/s headwind and rain, to record the fourth fastest time ever over 200 m, one hundredth off Gay's best time.
At the 2009 World Championships in August, Bolt eased through the 100 m heats, clocking the fastest ever pre-final performance of 9.89 seconds. The final was the first time Bolt and Gay had met in the season, and Bolt improved his world record with a time of 9.58s to win his first World Championship gold medal. Taking over a tenth of a second off the previous best mark, this was the largest ever margin of improvement in the 100 m world record since the beginning of electronic timing. Gay finished with a time of 9.71s, 0.02s off Bolt's 9.69s world-record run in Beijing. Although Gay withdrew from the second race of the competition, the Jamaican once again produced world record-breaking form in the 200 metres final. He broke his own record by 0.11 seconds, finishing with a time of 19.19 seconds. He won the 200 m race by the biggest margin in World Championships history, even though the race had three other athletes running under 19.90 seconds, the greatest number ever in the event. Bolt's pace impressed even the more experienced of his competitors; third-placed Wallace Spearmon complimented his speed, and former Olympic champion Shawn Crawford said "Just coming out there...I felt like I was in a video game, that guy was moving – fast". Bolt pointed out that an important factor in his performance at the World Championships was his improved start to the races: his reaction times in the 100 m (0.146) and 200 m (0.133) were significantly faster than those he had produced in his world record runs at the Beijing Olympics. However, he, together with other members of Jamaican 4x100 m relay team, fell short of their own world record of 37.10s set at 2008 Summer Olympics by timing 37.31s, which is, however, a championship record and the second fastest time in history at that date.
On the last day of the Berlin Championships, the governing Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, presented Bolt with a 12-foot high section of the Berlin Wall in a small ceremony, saying Bolt had shown that "one can tear down walls that had been considered as insurmountable." The nearly three-ton segment will be delivered to Bolt's training camp in Jamaica.
Several days after Bolt broke the world records in 100 and 200 metres events, Mike Powell, the world record holder in long jump (8.95 metres set in 1991) argued that Bolt could become the first man to jump over 9 metres, the long jump event being "a perfect fit for his speed and height". At the end of the season he was selected as the IAAF World Athlete of the Year for the second year running.
Early on in the 2010 outdoor season, Bolt ran 19.56 seconds in the 200 m in Kingston, Jamaica for the fourth-fastest run of all-time, although he stated that he had no record breaking ambitions for the forthcoming season. He took to the international circuit May with wins in East Asia at the Colorful Daegu Pre-Championships Meeting and then a comfortable win in his 2010 IAAF Diamond League debut at the Shanghai Golden Grand Prix. Bolt made an attempt to break Michael Johnson's best time over the rarely competed 300 metres event at the Golden Spike meeting in Ostrava. He failed to match Johnson's ten-year-old record of 30.85 and suffered a setback in that his 30.97-second run in wet weather had left him with an Achilles tendon problem.
On his return from injury a month later, he asserted himself with a 100 m win at the Athletissima meeting in Lausanne (9.82 seconds) and a victory over Asafa Powell at Meeting Areva in Paris (9.84 seconds). Despite this run of form, he suffered only the second loss of his career in a 100 m final at the DN Galan. Tyson Gay soundly defeated him with a run of 9.84 to Bolt's 9.97 seconds, and the Jamaican reflected that he had slacked off in training early in the season while Gay had been better prepared and in a better condition. This marked Bolt's first loss to Gay in the 100 m, which coincidentally occurred in the same stadium where Powell had beaten Bolt for the first time two years earlier.
Considered the overwhelming favourite to win in the 100 metres at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, Bolt was eliminated from the final, breaking "ridiculously early" according to the starter in an interview for BBC Sport, and receiving a false start. Usain Bolt's countryman, Yohan Blake, won in a season best of 9.92 seconds. In the 200 m, Bolt cruised through to the final which he won in a time of 19.40s. Bolt also won gold in 4x100 metres relay with team Jamaica setting a world record time of 37.04. In June 2012, Usain Bolt won the 100 m race in Diamond League in 9.79 seconds.
Before the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Bolt came in second at the Jamaican trials in both 100 m and 200 m. However, at the Olympics, he won the 100 metres gold medal with a time of 9.63 seconds, setting a new Olympic record for that distance and defending his gold medal from the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. He was followed by fellow Jamaican, Yohan Blake, who won silver with a time of 9.75 seconds. Following the race, seventh place finisher Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago declared "There's no doubt he's the greatest sprinter of all time", while USA Today referred to Bolt as a Jamaican "national hero", noting that his victory came just hours before Jamaica was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its independence from the United Kingdom. With his 2012 win, Bolt became the first man to defend an Olympic sprint title since Carl Lewis in 1988.
Bolt then "re-defined everything", by following up that impressive performance with a successful defense of his 200 metres gold medal with a time of 19.32 seconds, followed by fellow Jamaicans second-place Yohan Blake at 19.44 and bronze medalist Warren Weir at 19.84. With this, Bolt became the first man in history to defend both the 100 m and 200 m Olympic sprint titles. In fact, Bolt was so comfortably ahead near the finish that he was able to slow down, put his left finger to his mouth and "tell everyone to shush." As soon as Bolt crossed the finish line, he did five push-ups, one for each of his Olympic gold medals. Following the race, eighth place finisher Anaso Jobodwana of South Africa compared Bolt to a "ghost" who "disappears in front of you". When asked about his greatness as a sprinter following his victory, Bolt placed himself in the category of Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali, in their respective sports. International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge initially stated that Bolt was not yet a "legend" and would not deserve such acclaim until the end of Bolt's career, but later called him the best sprinter of all time.
On the final day of the 2012 Olympics' athletics, Bolt participated in Jamaica's gold medal-winning 4×100 metres relay team consisting of Bolt, Nesta Carter, Michael Frater and Yohan Blake. With a running time of 36.84 seconds, they broke Jamaica's previous world record of 37.04 from 2011. He celebrated by doing the "Mobot" in tribute to Mo Farah.
The first sport to interest him was cricket and he said if he was not a sprinter he would be a fast bowler instead. As a child he was a supporter of the Pakistani cricket team and admired the bowling of Waqar Younis. He is also a fan of Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar, West Indian opener Chris Gayle and Australian opener Matthew Hayden. During a charity cricket match Bolt clean-bowled Chris Gayle. Gayle was complimentary of Bolt's pace and swing. Bolt also struck a six off Chris Gayle's bowling. Another bowler complimentary of Bolt's pace was former West Indies fast-bowling great Curtly Ambrose.
Australian cricketer Shane Warne said on 12 August, 2012 that Bolt would be interested in playing in the Big Bash League. Bolt confirmed this saying: "[Shane Warne] contacted me and asked me about if I am serious and if I really want to do it then he can put in a few words that should get it done. So we will see if I get the time off. I will try." He also said he likes the Twenty20 version of the game: "Just the fact that it is so exciting, it's about going hard the whole time, not just about playing shots. It's about being aggressive and I like that style of batsman. If I get the chance I will definitely try because I know it's going to be a lot of fun. I don't know how good I am. I will probably have to get a lot of practice in." The social media campaign Warne started to get Bolt into the league also gained support from Australian Hollywood actor Russell Crowe. In response to Bolt's interest, Melbourne Stars Chief Executive Clint Cooper said: "We're going to wait until the Olympics is over and re-engage with him and his management company. We've got a couple of spots left on our list."
Bolt expresses a love for dancing and his character is frequently described as laid-back and relaxed. Bolt's Jamaican track and field idols include Herb McKenley and former Jamaican 100 m 200 m world record holder, Don Quarrie. Michael Johnson, the former 200 m world and Olympic record holder, is also held in high esteem by Bolt. In 2010, he also revealed his fondness of music, when he played a reggae DJ set to a crowd in Paris. He has also expressed his love for football and is a fan of Manchester United. Bolt has also declared he is a fan of Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy. He was a special guest of Manchester United at the 2011 UEFA Champions League final in London, where he stated he'd like to play for them after he retires.
Jamaica Jamaica, officially the Commonwealth of Jamaica, is the 4th largest island nation of the Greater Antilles, 234kms (145miles) in length, up to 80kms (50miles) in width, and 10,990sq kms (4,240 sq miles) in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about 145kms (90miles) south of Cuba, and 191kms (119miles) west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Jamaica is the 5th largest island country in the Caribbean. The indigenous Arawakan-speaking Taíno name for the island was Xaymaca, meaning the "Land of Wood and Water" or the "Land of Springs".
Once a Spanish possession known as Santiago, it became an English colony in 1655 under the name Jamaica. It achieved full independence from Britain on August 6, 1962. With 2.8 million people, it is the third most populous Anglophone country in the Americas, after the United States and Canada. It remains a Commonwealth realm in concert with the Monarchy of Jamaica holding ultimate executive power, where Queen Elizabeth II is the current head of state and Queen of Jamaica. The head of government and Prime Minister of Jamaica is currently Portia Simpson-Miller, who holds full legislative power of the country. Kingston is the country's largest city, with a population of 937,700, and its capital. Jamaica has a large diaspora around the world consisting of Jamaican citizens migrating from the country.
The Arawak and Taino indigenous people, originating in South America, settled on the island between 4000 and 1000 BC. When Christopher Columbus arrived in 1494, there were over 200 villages ruled by caciques (chiefs of villages). The south coast of Jamaica was the most populated, especially around the area now known as Old Harbour. The Tainos were still inhabiting Jamaica when the English took control of the island. The Jamaican National Heritage Trust is attempting to locate and document any evidence of the Taino/Arawaks.
Christopher Columbus claimed Jamaica for Spain after landing there in 1494 and his probable landing point was Dry Harbour, now called Discovery Bay. There is some debate as to whether he landed in St. Ann's Bay or in Discovery Bay. St. Ann's Bay was the "Saint Gloria" of Columbus who first sighted Jamaica at this point. One mile west of St. Ann's Bay is the site of the first Spanish settlement on the island, Sevilla, which was established in 1509 and abandoned around 1524 because it was deemed unhealthy. The capital was moved to Spanish Town, then called "St. Jago de la Vega", around 1534 and is located in present day St. Catherine.
Out of all the British colonies in the Caribbean, Spanish Town has the oldest cathedral. The Spanish were forcibly evicted by the English at Ocho Rios in St. Ann. In 1655 the English, led by William Penn and General Robert Venables, took over the last Spanish fort in Jamaica. The name of Montego Bay, the capital of the parish of St. James, was derived from the Spanish name manteca bahía (or Bay of Lard) for the large quantity of boar used for the lard-making industry.
Henry Morgan was a famous Caribbean pirate and privateer who had arrived in the West Indies as an indentured servant, like many of the early settlers. In 1660, the population of Jamaica was about 4,500 whites and 1,500 blacks, but by as early as the 1670s, blacks formed a majority of the population. France outlawed the residence of Jews in their country in 1394. By 1660, Jamaica had become a refuge for Jews in the New World. A settlement of Jews had arrived in 1510, soon after the son of Christopher Columbus settled on the island. Primarily merchants and traders, the Jewish community was forced to live a clandestine life, calling themselves "Portugals". After the British took over rule of Jamaica, the Jews felt that the best defense against Spanish threat would be to make the colony a base for Caribbean pirates. With the pirates installed in its main port, Port Royal, the Spanish would be deterred form carrying out an attack. The British leaders were convinced of the viability of this strategy to forestall outside aggression.
When the English captured Jamaica in 1655 the Spanish colonists fled after freeing their slaves. The slaves fled into the mountains, joining those who had previously escaped from the Spanish to live with the Taínos. These runaway slaves, who became known as the Jamaican Maroons, fought the British during the 18th century. The name is still used today for their modern descendants. During the long years of slavery Maroons established free communities in the mountainous interior of Jamaica, maintaining their freedom and independence for generations.
During its first 200 years of British rule, Jamaica became one of the world's leading sugar-exporting, slave-dependent nations, producing more than 77,000 tons of sugar annually between 1820 and 1824. After the abolition of the slave trade in 1807, the British imported Indian and Chinese workers as indentured servants to supplement the labour pool. Descendants of indentured servants of Indian and Chinese origin continue to reside in Jamaica today.
By the beginning of the 19th century, Jamaica's heavy reliance on slavery resulted in blacks outnumbering whites by a ratio of almost 20 to 1. Even though England had outlawed the importation of slaves, some were still smuggled into the colonies. The British government drew up laws regimenting the abolition of slavery, but they also included instructions for the improvement of the slaves' way of life. These instructions included a ban of the use of whips in the field, a ban on the flogging of women, notification that slaves were to be allowed religious instruction, a requirement that slaves be given an extra free day during the week when they could sell their produce as well as a ban on Sunday markets.
In Jamaica these measures were resisted by the House of Assembly. The Assembly claimed that the slaves were content and objected to Parliament's interference in island affairs, although many slave owners feared possible revolts. Following a series of rebellions and changing attitudes in Great Britain, the nation formally abolished slavery in 1834, with full emancipation from chattel slavery declared in 1838. The population in 1834 was 371,070 of whom 15,000 were white, 5,000 free black, 40,000 ‘coloured’ or mixed race, and 311,070 slaves.
In the 19th century, the British established a number of botanical gardens. These included the Castleton Garden, set up in 1862 to replace the Bath Garden (created in 1779) which was subject to flooding. Bath Garden was the site for planting breadfruit brought to Jamaica from the Pacific by Captain William Bligh. Other gardens were the Cinchona Plantation founded in 1868 and the Hope Garden founded in 1874. In 1872, Kingston became the island's capital.
In 1945, Sir Horace Hector Hearne became Chief Justice and Keeper of the Records in Jamaica. He headed the Supreme Court, Kingston between 1945 and 1950/1951. He then moved to Kenya where he was appointed Chief Justice.
Jamaica slowly gained increasing independence from the United Kingdom and in 1958, it became a province in the Federation of the West Indies, a federation among the British West Indies. Jamaica attained full independence by leaving the federation in 1962.
Strong economic growth, averaging approximately 6% per annum, marked the first ten years of independence under conservative governments which were led successively by Prime Ministers Alexander Bustamante, Donald Sangster and Hugh Shearer. The growth was fuelled by strong investments in bauxite/alumina, tourism, manufacturing industry and, to a lesser extent, the agricultural sector.
The optimism of the first decade was accompanied by a growing sense of inequality, and a sense that the benefits of growth were not being experienced by the urban poor. This, combined with the effects of a slowdown in the global economy in 1970, prompted the electorate to change government, electing the PNP (People's National Party) in 1972. Despite efforts to create more socially equitable policies in education and health, Jamaica continued to lag economically, with its gross national product having fallen in 1980 to some 25% below the 1972 level. Rising foreign and local debt, accompanied by large fiscal deficits, resulted in the invitation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) financing from the United States and others, and the imposition of IMF austerity measures (with a greater than 25% interest rate per year).
Economic deterioration continued into the mid-1980s, exacerbated by a number of factors; the first and third largest alumina producers, Alpart and Alcoa closed, and there was a significant reduction in production by the second largest producer, Alcan. In addition, tourism decreased and Reynolds Jamaica Mines, Ltd. left the Jamaican industry.
People always say I'm a legend, but I'm not. Not until I've defended my Olympic titles. That's when I've decided I'll be a legend.
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