Bolt had just completed the historic feat of the triple treble, winning the Olympic 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay races for the third consecutive time. No other sprinter had secured three consecutive Olympic golds in even one of those disciplines – although the 30-year-old has since been stripped of the relay honour from the 2008 Games because of a retrospective failed drug test by his Jamaica team-mate Nesta Carter.
The record of the world’s fastest man
Finishing the 100m in under 10 seconds is an exceptional physical and psychological achievement that only 124 men have accomplished. For historical context, the first 100m Olympic gold medal winner finished the sprint in 12 seconds.
In total Bolt has broken the 10-second barrier 49 times during his career, earning him six gold medals in world championships and Olympics.
Bolt holds nine out of the 30 fastest 100m times and is the only athlete on that leaderboard to have never failed a drug test.
It is not only his 100m feats that set him apart, however. In a world of ever-improving performances and otherwise short-lived triumphs, “Lightning” Bolt has also set and continually defended the world record in the 200m, a discipline he has excelled in since his youth.
As the fastest and final runner in the Jamaica relay team, Bolt has helped to propel them to the top of the leaderboard, earning his country six more gold medals alongside his solo races.
The impressive number of Bolt’s victories means his dominance remains unquestioned.
In fact, the only element of Bolt’s race that is consistently weak is his reaction time. When he set the 100m world record in 2009, Bolt was the third slowest out of the blocks.
Bolt would not have been too worried – by the end of the race he led by 0.13 seconds, about three times as much as he could have shaved off his reaction time without false starting.
Even as the fastest man in the world, Bolt’s pay is considerably lower than other top athletes. Forbes may rank Bolt as 23rd on the 2016-17 list of the world’s highest-paid athletes but his championship winnings accounted for only 6% of his total pay, with brand endorsements from companies such as Puma and Gatorade making up the rest of his earnings.
With the prize money for solo sports at London 2017 at just $60,000, it is not surprising that Bolt is the only track athlete in Forbes’ list of highest-paid sport stars. That pales in comparison to the £2.2m Roger Federer won at Wimbledon, this year or the $2.16m the golfer Brooks Koepka took home from the US Open in June.