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Usain Bolt: Images from a glittering career

Usain Bolt: Images from a glittering career
As sprint legend Usain Bolt hangs up his spikes after his last race with the Jamaican 4x100m relay team at the World Athletics Championships in London, RT Sport takes a look back at some of the images from his decorated career.

Early days 

After a sparkling junior career that saw him became the youngest-ever junior 200m world champion in 2002 at age 15, Bolt made the Jamaican team for the 2004 Athens Olympics, where he competed in the 200m.

The 18-year-old struggled with injury though, and was eliminated in the first round with a disappointing time of 21.05 seconds.

2005 – Helsinki World Champs

The following year, and still aged 18, Bolt competed in the men’s 200m quarterfinals at the World Athletics Championships in Helsinki. He would go on to finish last in the final, again being hampered by injury.  

2006 – First senior success

Bolt began to establish himself of the senior stage in 20016. He’s pictured below at the London Grand Prix meet in July, 2006, where he was beaten into third by America’s Tyson Gay and Xavier Carterin the 200m.

Later that year Bolt would gain his first major taste of success at senior level, when he claimed bronze at the IAAF World Athletics Final in Stuttgart, Germany, with a time of 20.10 seconds.

2007 – World Championship medals

Bolt claimed silver in the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan, coming second behind American Tyson Gay. Bolt also claimed silver as part of the Jamaican 4x100m relay team.

2008 – Golden year

After his Osaka performances, Bolt began to focus more on the 100m. He broke the world record in the event in May, running 9.72 seconds in New York. 

He doubled up at that year’s Olympics in Beijing, and beat his own 100m world record in the final with a time of 9.69. 

Days later, he then beat Michael Johnson’s long-standing 200m world record, running 19.30 seconds to win gold.

He later claimed his third gold of the Games as part of the Jamaican men’s 4x100m relay team, although was later stripped of the medal after teammate Nesta Carter retroactively tested positive for a banned substance.

He was firmly established as the golden boy of athletics.

2009 – More gold, world records tumble again

Bolt went into the 2009 World Championships in Berlin aiming for more double gold in the 100m and 200m. He smashed his own 100m world record in the final, with a time of 9.58, and repeated the feat in the 200m in the final, winning gold in a world record time of 19.19 seconds. Both records still stand.

2011 – Blemish in South Korea

Bolt was favorite going into the 100m and 200m at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, but was eliminated from the final after false-starting. He made up for the error by cruising to victory in the 200m final in a time of 19.40. 

London 2012 – Legend status confirmed

Bolt, now 25, confirmed his status as one of the greatest of all time with gold in his defense of the Olympic 100m and 200m titles, becoming the first man to defend an Olympic sprint title since Carl Lewis in 1988. He went on to win the 4x100m relay gold with the Jamaican team, setting a world record in the process.

“I'm now a legend. I'm also the greatest athlete to live,” he said.

Bolt swapped places with British double gold medallist Mo Farah, with the Jamaican doing the ‘Mo Bot’ and the UK distance runner doing the ‘To Di World’ aka ‘Lightning Bolt’ pose.

2013 – Lightning strikes in Moscow

Bolt won the 2013 World Championship 100m title amid the backdrop of thunderous skies in the Russian capital.

He duly the added the 200m title and relay gold to become the most successful athlete in the 30-year history of the world championships.

Bolt the showman

Throughout his career Bolt has been famous for his showmanship, as demonstrated when he danced on the track in Moscow in 2013. In the second picture he performs his ‘To Di World’ aka ‘Lightning Bolt’ pose, also in Moscow in 2013. 

2015 – More world championship glory  

Bolt was pushed hard by US rival Justin Gatlin at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, but claimed a narrow win in the 100m final, clocking 9.79 seconds to Gatlin’s 9.80 – and joining Carl Lewis and Maurice Greene as the only men to claim three 100m world titles.

He also beat Gatlin to gold in the 200m, powering to a comfortable victory in 19.55 seconds – giving him and unprecedented four world championship titles in the event. 

2016 – Rio carnival

By the Rio Olympics of 2016, Bolt was already conscious that his career was nearing an end, but amid various doping scandals he had assumed the role as a shining light for the sport.  

Bolt duly won gold in the 100m, putting him out on his own as the only winner of three Olympic golds in the event. He backed it up with his third 200m title, becoming the only man ever to do so. 

He added the 4x100m title with the Jamaican relay team for good measure, as the Rio crowd lapped it up.  

2017 – Bowing out

Bolt’s career came to end at the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London. While he couldn’t go out on a high in the 100m, finishing third behind controversial American runner and long-time rival Gatlin and young runner Christian Coleman, he was graceful in defeat and still received huge support from the crowd.

The was also to be disappointment in the 4x100m final, as Bolt pulled up injured with muscle cramp in his last-ever race.

The lack of a fairy tale ending in London does not diminish from what came before it though, and Bolt’s legacy as the greatest sprinter of all time is secure.