By Zoe Denenberg
The Fastest Man Alive. The Boy Who Learned to Fly. The Lightning Bolt.
All of these nicknames describe Usain Bolt, arguably the most legendary sprinter in history. Since he started his career at the age of 16, Bolt has won 11 World Championships, nine Olympic gold medals and broken three world records.
Here's a look back at some of the groundbreaking moments throughout Bolt's incredible career.
At 16, the Jamaican sprinter jump-started his career at the 2002 World Junior Track and Field Championships. Bolt won his first gold medal in the 200-meter race and, as a result, was awarded the Rising Star Award at the IAAF Athletics Gala. In 2003, he captured the 200m World Youth Championship gold once again, earning him international attention.
A year after winning the World Youth Championship, Bolt, then 17, competed for Jamaica in the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. Although a hamstring injury prevented him from continuing past the first round, this would not be the last time Bolt graced the Olympic track. Bolt's 2004 Olympic debut marked the beginning of his professional running career.
first records broken
Prior to the summer Olympics, Bolt traveled to New York to compete in the Reebok Grand Prix in May of 2008. He broke the 100m world record with an astonishing time of 9.72 seconds. This would be the first of many world records shattered by Bolt.
After his record-breaking run in May, Bolt prepared for the approaching 2008 Olympics in Beijing in August. All eyes were on this young Jamaican powerhouse, and Bolt certainly rose to the occasion. He broke the 200m world record with a time of 19.30 seconds to win his first Olympic gold medal on August 20, 2008.
Bolt also took home the gold for Jamaica in the 100-meter race, improving upon his own 100m world record with a time of 9.69 seconds. He earned his third gold medal in the 4x100 relay race.
the fastest man alive
Bolt topped his own world records yet again at the 2009 IAAF World Athletics Championship in Berlin, where he kept up his winning streak and took home three gold medals. With seemingly impossible times of 9.58 seconds for the 100m and 19.19 seconds for the 200m, Bolt became the fastest man alive.
a worldwide star
Usain Bolt's record-breaking trials at the 2009 IAAF World Championship gained him international fame. The New York Times lauded his record-shattering sprint as one of the greatest track and field performances of all time. Yet Bolt still hesitated to call himself a legend, as tough competitors like Tyson Gay were hot on his heals.
“I think it’s getting there, but for me I don’t think two seasons can do it,” Bolt said. “I think I have to keep doing this year after year, and it’s going to take a lot of hard work, because these guys are going to be coming next season and the season after that.”
Bolt's incredible feats drew the attention of media giants across the world. In September of 2009, the popular sprinter appeared on an episode of "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon," and in 2010, he released his own flavor of Gatorade called "Bolt Lemon Ice." Gatorade created an animated campaign centered around the sprinting star, dubbing Bolt "the boy who learned to fly."
Bolt broke his winning streak at the 2010 Diamond League in Stockholm, where he lost to Tyson Gay in the 100m finals. This was Bolt's second career loss, showing the world he was not invincible.
back on track
Fans eagerly awaited Bolt's return in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, and he did not disappoint. He became the first man in history to defend both of his Olympic sprinting titles, winning the 100m gold medal with a time of 9.63 seconds and the 200m in 19.32 seconds. Bolt also helped Jamaica win the gold in the 4x100 relay; his team broke its previous world record with a time of 36.84 seconds.
"This is what I wanted and I got it. I'm very proud of myself," 25-year-old Bolt told BBC Sport.
At the beginning of the 2015 season, Bolt announced that he intended for the 2017 World Championships to be his last competition. But until then, he was determined to uphold his victories. At the 2015 World Championships, he won his third 100m title and his fourth consecutive 200m title. His relay team also claimed their fourth consecutive World Championship victory.
Usain Bolt returned to the Olympics in the summer of 2016 at Rio de Janeiro, where he became the first person in Olympic history to win the gold in both the 100m and the 200m three times. He earned a "triple-triple" and ended his Olympic career with a 100 percent win rate in the finals.
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