Usain Bolt: 200-Meter Gold Would Solidify Jamaican Sprinter as Greatest Ever

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 05: Usain Bolt of Jamaica celebrates winning gold in the Men's 100m Final on Day 9 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 5, 2012 in London, England.(Photo by Julia Vynokurova/Getty Images)
Julia Vynokurova/Getty Images

Is Usain Bolt the greatest sprinter ever?

There are two ways to answer that question. The first way is to talk about his achievements in terms of times and records, in which case he is unquestionably the greatest sprinter in history.

He has set two Olympic records in the 100-meter dash (his 9.63 second mark in London broke the previous Olympic record he set in Beijing) and he also has the world record of 9.58 seconds, set in 2009. Oh, and he also holds the world record in the 200-meter dash, running the event in a blistering 19.19 seconds in 2009.

But you could also make the argument that Bolt won his second gold medal in the 100 against the most talented field in the history of the Olympics. From Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

It featured the fastest field ever. Seven of the eight runners finished in less than 10 seconds, and the other, Jamaican Asafa Powell, pulled up with a groin injury. This would have been the fastest 100 in history without Bolt, and he blew the field away.

Blake ran his best time ever and finished 0.12 seconds behind the gold medalist. Justin Gatlin of the United State ran his own best time ever and finished 0.16 behind Bolt.

And Bolt didn't even get off to a good start. Scary.

In 2008, he became the first man ever to win gold in the 100, 200 and 4x100-meter relay in world-record times. He can't match that now, but he can become the first man to ever sweep the 100 and 200 sprints in consecutive Olympics, or the first sprinter to ever win two 200 gold medals.

And that's the second argument that needs to be made—legacy.

But records are always broken, and that can make it hard to compare legacies in sprinting. Someday, Usain Bolt's world record will be broken. But if he goes on to win the 200, can his legacy ever be topped?


Remember, when he won the 100 dash four years ago, he essentially sauntered across the finish line after throttling down over the last 10 meters. It was as dominant a performance as the world had ever seen, as was the entirety of his 2008 Games.

Technically speaking, he's the first man to ever win the event in consecutive Olympics. Yes, the record books say Carl Lewis did the same, but he only earned his second gold in 1988 after the winner of the race, Canada's Ben Johnson, was stripped of his gold medal after failing a drug test.

Imagine if Bolt wins the 200 and 4x100 relay again this Olympics. Imagine this man holding numerous world records, six gold medals and an amazing flair to boot, all at once. Imagine him doing so in one of, if not the most competitive era in sprinting. 

World records come and go, but that level of domination over a sport is hard to find. If Bolt earns two more gold medals in London, he'll indisputably be the greatest sprinter ever.

The fastest man alive becomes the greatest sprinter ever. But then again, his last name is Bolt—we really should have seen this coming.


Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets don't walk, jog, run or sprint, they Bolt.

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