Another interesting fact is that all three winners in the 200 metres sprint were Jamaicans - Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Warren Weir - thus collecting gold, silver and bronze for Jamaica just like that! In that race, Bolt did it in 19.32 seconds. For the 100 metre race, Jamaicans took the first two positions, namely Usain Bolt (gold) and Yohan Blake (silver), while bronze went to African-American athlete Justin Gatlin. Considering that Asafa Powell did not finish the race due to a groin injury, you can surely imagine what could have happened if he had run!
At the London Olympics, Bolt ran his 100-metre sprint in 9.63 seconds, which is an Olympic record. However, he did not break the world record which he himself had set in Berlin (Germany) in 2009 when he clocked 9.58 seconds, the fastest time ever! The 100 metres in 9.58 seconds translates to 10.4 metres per second or 37.6 kilometres per hour. This year his speed was 9.63 seconds, an Olympic record
For the 4x100-metre relay, Team Jamaica won gold, and set a new world record at 36.84 seconds! This team consisted of Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, Yohan Blake and Usain Bolt. In general, Jamaica has established itself as the leading nation when it comes to the sprints.
Over a period stretching 75 years, Jamaica has won 42 Commonwealth Golds, 14 World Championship Golds and 13 Olympic Golds in athletics alone. With a population of 2.6 million people, Jamaica has a human capital comparable to that of Namibia. So why is Jamaica doing way better than many African countries, including Namibia?
I have been trying to research the reasons for that great achievement, but I have not found a comprehensive study on that topic. What does come out is that athletics is a grassroots sports in Jamaica, where it starts even at pre-school level. As expected in a Caribbean island like Jamaica, cricket is the most popular sport. Jamaican cricketers play for the West Indies cricket team, which won the 1975 and 1979 Cricket World Cup.
Soccer and athletics come next, in terms of popularity in Jamaica. You will recall that the Jamaican soccer team made it to the 1998 FIFA World Cup, where they beat Japan 2-1. Although they did not advance past the first round, they did make an impression as the Rasta Boys. The Jamaican national football team is a force to be reckoned with among the Caribbean nations, and has won the Caribbean Cup five times (in 1991, 1998, 2005, 2008 and 2010).
Who is Usain Bolt? As expected, his CV will fill a whole book, but let me give you a brief tour of his illustrious career. Usain St. Leo Bolt was born on 21 August 1986, in Trelawney, Jamaica. It is said that as a child, he enjoyed playing cricket, specialising in fast bowling. However, when he enrolled for the William Knibb Memorial High School, his speed on the pitch made the cricket coach to advise Bolt that he should switch to track and field events. At the tender age of 15 in 2001, Bolt won his first annual high school championships medal (silver medal in the 200 metres, with a time of 22.04 seconds).
The 2002 World Junior Championships were held in Kingston, Jamaica, thus offering the young Bolt some “home ground advantage”, where he showcased his talent at an international event. He won the 200 metres, in a time of 20.61 seconds, a new personal best. This made him the youngest world-junior gold medallist ever. The Jamaican sprint relay team, of which Bolt was a member, ensured that Bolt earned two silver medals and set national junior records in the 4x100 metres and 4x400 metres (39.15 seconds and 3:04.06 minutes, respectively).
At the 2003 World Youth Championships in Sherbrooke, Canada, Bolt won gold and set a new championship record in the 200 metres with 20.40 seconds, despite the fact that there was a 1.1 metres per second head wind.
Unfortunately, at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan, he could only manage to win a silver medal for a time of 19.91 seconds (with a headwind of 0.8 metres per second). The glorious gold went to the African American sprinter, Tyson Gay, who ran the 100 metres in 19.76 seconds (a new championship record). In fact, Gay won three gold medals in Osaka, for the 100 metres, 200 metres and the 4x100 metres relay.
For Bolt, the year 2007 was a period of famine in terms of gold medals, as he did not win any gold medals at major tournaments in that year. Thankfully, the 2008 Beijing Olympics was just around the corner, and there he won gold medals in 100 metres sprint with a new world record time of 9.69 seconds. It is reported that, had Bolt not slowed down before the finishing line, he could have finished in a time of 9.55 seconds.
For the 200-metre sprint in Beijing, Bolt set a new world and Olympic record of 19.30 seconds (despite a headwind of 0.9 m/s). That achievement made him the second sprinter (after fellow Jamaican Don Quarrie) to simultaneously hold the world records for both the100 metres and 200 metres sprints. He was the first person to do so since the introduction of electronic timing. Moreover, Bolt became the first sprinter to break the100 metres and 200 metres records at the same Olympics.
The next time you see lightning in the sky, just remember that Usain Bolt is watching you! God bless Jamaica.