Usain Bolt’s finish line
On an August night in 2008, Usain Bolt announced his arrival. When he blazed his way to a 100m gold medal in the Beijing Olympics with a new world record that night, he started a decade of dominance that is unrivalled in the history of track and field. It has now come to an end. Unless he makes an unlikely comeback, he will take the field for the last time on Saturday in Jamaica’s 4x100m relay in the World Championships being held in London. He ran his last individual race, the 100m, last Saturday, managing only a bronze; no fairytale finish for him.
Bolt also took the gold in the 200m with a new world record in 2008. He would take both golds in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics as well, along with a raft of World Championship medals and broken records.
The staggering numbers are only half the story. A combination of showmanship and obvious delight in pushing the limits of physical achievement made him a global brand at a time when track and field was under the shadow of doping. His exit will leave a hole in the sport that will be difficult to fill.