2012 SUMMER OLYMPICS Athletes to watch
ABOVE PHOTO: Usian Bolt.
Arguably the most naturally gifted athlete the world has ever seen, Usain St Leo Bolt, confirmed his tremendous talents when he realized his dreams by winning a phenomenal three gold medals at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
Bolt became the first man in Olympic history to win both the 100m and 200m races in World Record times then formed part of the 4x100m team that also smashed the World Record later in the meet.
While the World danced and celebrated with this precocious talent, this was a dream waiting to happen and not just an overnight sensation.
As early as age 14, young Usain was opening eyes with his lightning speed from regional championships in western Jamaica to national meets set in Kingston to meets in the wider Caribbean.
Usain’s ascent to the pinnacle of world sprinting started with the most unlikely of events as his first medal at any meet came in the 80 hurdles in Class Three at Western Champs held on the campus of his Alma Mater William Knibb Memorial High in Martha Brae, Trelawny when he ‘jumped’ his way to a bronze medal.
Because he towered above his peers even then, Bolt was also entered in the high jump event and was a promising fast bowler in cricket before been encouraged to channel his energies on the track.
By 2001, Bolt became a known commodity and he sent signals that he would be a world beater in early 2002 when he cruised to a hand-timed 20.3 seconds to win the 200m at Western Champs finals at Catherine Hall.
Later that year he went on to win the 200m/400m double at CARIFTA Trials before winning four gold medals at the meet held in Nassau, Bahamas.
He announced his arrival to the wider global audience in July 2002 when at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Junior Championships in Kingston in front of the biggest crowd ever to watch these meets, he won the host nation’s only individual gold medal, winning the 200m in 20.61 seconds.
He left that meet with three medals including two silver medals in the relays, anchoring the 4x100m team and was part of the 4x400m team as well.
That was the start of a meteoric climb to the top that also saw him winning two IAAF Rising Star awards.
It was not always smooth sailing however as injuries slowed him down at several junctures of his career.
Soon after breaking the Word Junior Record in the 200m (19.93 seconds) at the CARIFTA Game sin Hamilton, Bermuda in 2004, Bolt was slowed by a troublesome hamstring injury.
He missed what turned out to be a ‘Jamaican party’ at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Australia in 2006 when he suffered another hamstring injury while running a leg of the 4x400m relay for the IAAF High performance Centre’s team at the Gibson Relays in Kingston.
Jamaican athletes swept all the sprint events at the meet, despite his absence.
Fortunately, he recovered well enough later that year to take second in the 200m at the IAAF World Cup of Athletics in Stuttgart, Germany.
But 2007 was his break through year in that he broke the National 200m Record of over 30 years, held by the great Donald Quarrie as well as he earned two silver medals (200m and 4x100m relay) at the World Championship in Osaka, Japan.
In 2008, Usain rewrote the History books.