Aside from American swimmer Michael Phelps, there is no question that the biggest story of the 2008 Beijing Olympics was the success of Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt. The speedster first really burst onto the scene in 2007, so his dominance in Beijing was somewhat surprising as he wasn't as experienced as most of his counterparts.
Bolt proved the speed rules over all else, however, as he would win three gold medals, setting a new world record in each of the races he competed in. He became the first sprinter since fellow countryman Don Quarrie to hold the 100-meter and 200-meter marks respectively, and the first to sweep both events in the Olympics since American Carl Lewis in 1984.
Bolt seems to have been usurped in the 100-meter dash by countryman Yohan Blake and will receive stiff competition from Americans Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin in London. Even if Bolt can't duplicate his 2008 performance in London, it will always be remembered. Here is a look back at his magical showing in Beijing.
The 100-meter dash is generally the race that determines the fastest man in the world. It lasts fewer than 10 seconds and is a true test of how explosive a sprinter is. Bolt became the world record holder in the event in May of 2008, so he had a lot of momentum heading into Beijing. Although there were some question marks regarding how he would perform on the big stage, Bolt thrived when the lights got brighter.
Bolt broke his own record of 9.72 seconds in Beijing when he blew away the field with a time of 9.69 seconds. Bolt beat second-place finisher Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago by two tenths of a second, which is a huge margin of victory in sprinting. If not for Bolt slowing himself down to celebrate ahead of the finish line, he may have been able to break his previous record by more than a tenth of a second. His 100-meter blowout was a sign of things to come.
There are a lot of 100-meter specialists who aren't capable of excelling at 200 meters, but Bolt isn't one of them. While Bolt wasn't an overwhelming favorite in the 200 like he was the 100, it became quite clear during the qualifying heats that he was going to be the man to beat. Bolt won gold in the 200-meter dash easily as well and he set yet another world and Olympic record by finishing in a mere 19.30 seconds.
Bolt had an even larger margin of victory in the 200 as second-place finisher Churandy Martina of Netherlands Antilles finished more than a half second behind Bolt. Even if Bolt's dominance in the 200-meter dash didn't receive as much attention as what he did in the 100, it very well may have been his best showing in Beijing.
Which was Bolt's most impressive race in Beijing?
Sprinting is generally an individual sport, but Bolt needed help from his Jamaican teammates to win his third gold medal of the 2008 Summer Games. Bolt teamed with Nesta Carter, Michael Frater and legend Asafa Powell to win the 4x100 meter relay in a new record time of 37.10 seconds. Powell was the anchor as Bolt ran the third leg of the race for Jamaica, but it was Bolt's split that really set his team apart from the field.
Jamaica breezed to yet another easy win thanks to Bolt as they held off second-place Trinidad and Tobago by more than six tenths of a second. While the boisterous Bolt had to share the glory with his teammates after this victory, it may have been the most satisfying of the Games for him. It was already obvious what he could do as an individual in the 100 and 200, so for him to thrive in a team setting as well was fantastic.
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