The word “legend” is thrown around so often these days, it’s easy to lose sight of the word’s original meaning. Here are six facts that show that, in the case of eight-time world champion sprinter Usain ‘Lightning’ Bolt, the descriptor is one that is well and truly earned.
Born Usain St. Leo Bolt to parents Wellesley and Jennifer, Usain had always been an energetic child, restless to the point that his parents thought there might be something wrong with him. Fortunately, the the doctor they consulted informed them there was nothing wrong with the boy, and the physician even went so far as to suggest that the energy could be put to good use someday!
As early as the age of 7, Bolt was known to run all the way to school and, by the age of 12, was well established as his school’s fastest runner. But it was only in high school that Bolt was convinced to shelve his other sporting aspirations when his father, his cricket coach, his running coach, and his school all advised him to concentrate on sprinting.
One of Bolt’s primary running coaches in his early days was former Olympian Pablo McNeil, who trained Bolt until the lad was 16. Not only did McNeil instill in the young Bolt a sense of discipline and humility (“He was running some phenomenal times before he was even 15. I have never shown him my stopwatch, lest it gets to his head,” McNeil said in a 2008 interview), but he was also the one who christened him with the nickname of ‘Lightning’.
In 2013, physicists analyzing Bolt’s record-setting performances were astounded to discover that, despite being less aerodynamic than his peers due to his height (Bolt stands at 6’5”), he more than compensated for it by generating over 50 times the energy used to launch a bullet from a gun.
An 8-time world champion, and six-time Olympic Gold medalist, Bolt made history as the first Olympian to achieve a “double double” when he won both the 100 m and 200 m titles over two consecutive Olympic Games (2008 and 2012), a feat he transformed into a “double triple” when he added relay (4x100m) medals to his collection in 2012.
Furthermore, Bolt holds the record for the world’s fastest 100-m dash, clocking in at 9.58 seconds at the 2009 World Championships, handily beating his own previous record of 9.69 seconds.
After dispelling rumors that he would be retiring following next year’s Summer Olympics, Bolt formally announcing his intention to retire from the world of track and field following the 2017 World Championships. Almost immediately, rumors flew that the lifelong football enthusiast might pursue his oft-quoted desire to play for Manchester United.
“If everything goes well this season… in my life anything is possible,” Bolt told CNN, when asked about his retirement plans. “If I can get myself in good shape, it should be wonderful this season.”