Everyone knows Usain Bolt as the fastest man on Earth. The legendary figure from Jamaica has a remarkable track record and career. Without a doubt, we can say that he’s one of the most promising athletes in the world right now. History will remember him for his achievements, but it wasn’t always easy for the sportsman. Here, we have gathered some obscure facts about one of the greatest sprinters of all time.
1. His career began with a bet over a free lunch.
Born on August 21, 1986 to Wellesley and Jennifer Bolt, he was one of three children born to the couple. His parents managed a grocery store and made ends meet for the children. At the age of 12, Bolt was arguing with his best friend, Ricardo Gedes, over who was the fastest among them. While the two were arguing with each other, local Reverend Nugent overheard them and decided to encourage them. The reverend offered a free meal to the winner and the pair took the challenge. Without a doubt, Bolt emerged victorious and legend has it that Nugent told the young Jamaican, ‘If you can beat Ricardo, you can beat anyone’.
2. He was born a week and a half late.
The Jamaican runner holds the greatest track record of all time. He was known to be fast at an early age. In 2009, his mother Jennifer Bolt made a statement that Bolt had been hyperactive since he was born. The only time he was slow was during his birth, since he was born a week and a half late.
3. In 2008, before the Beijing Olympics, Bolt consumed 1,000 chicken nuggets in a period of 10 days. He still managed to win three gold medals.
Athletes have different dietary secrets to success. For Bolt, it was chicken nuggets; lots and lots of them. During the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Bolt ate approximately 1,000 nuggets, averaging 100 a day. When you calculate the calories, that’s 940 calories per 20-piece box, about 4,700 calories a day or 47,000 calories during his entire stay in China. In his biography, he writes:
“At first, I ate a box of 20 for lunch, then another for dinner. The next day I had two boxes for breakfast, one for lunch and then another couple in the evening. I even grabbed some fries and an apple pie to go with it.”
He chose to eat nuggets with sweet n sour sauce during the entire trip because he thought Chinese food was odd. After consuming huge quantities, you might think that someone would be hospitalized; but not Bolt, because he went on to win three Olympic gold medals.
4. In 2011, Bolt was disqualified from the 100 meter finals after a false start.
The man is human after all. In 2011, Usain Bolt was on the track to retain his world title, but the anticipation and frustration caught up to him. Before the starter’s pistol went off, the athlete started sprinting. Even though he realized his mistake and showed frustration, officials disqualified him for the error. In his absence, his Jamaican training partner, Yohan Blake, became victorious. (The only way Bolt can lose a race.)
5. Pablo McNeil, the man who is responsible for the fastest man on Earth, never showed his stopwatch to Bolt. Even when Bolt ran tracks at record times, McNeil kept it to himself because he did not want Bolt to get a big ego.
While Bolt was studying at William Knibb Memorial High School in Trelawny, Pablo McNeil saw great potential in him. He became his trainer and started pushing him to the limit. McNeil saw that Bolt had the ability to sprint at record speed but he never told him about it. Instead, he worked overtime and kept pushing him to do better. In a statement, McNeil said:
“He was running some phenomenal times before he was even 15. I have never shown him my stopwatch, lest it gets to his head.”
6. He has one of the best starts in the sport.
Bolt is known for his pull away strategy, where he sprints ahead from his rivals in the final stages of a race. Contrary to the popular belief that he is a slow starter, Bolt actually has one of the best starts in the sport. Scientists have been studying the physics behind his sprint and how he manages to run at such speeds. According to Dr. Sam Allen, Lecturer in Biomechanics at Loughborough University:
‘What we do know is that elite sprinters need to be able to generate extremely high muscle forces relative to their body mass, in the very short period of time when they’re actually in contact with the ground. All other things being equal, most sprinters spend a similar length of time in the air once they’re at top speed, but better sprinters spend less time on the ground.’
A study also found that 75% of Jamaicans carry a gene called “ACTN3”, compared to 70% of US international-standard athletes. Scientists also believe that the aluminum-rich soil of Jamaica increases the activity of this gene; attributing Bolt’s ability to the very country he was born and raised.
7. Usain Bolt demands that ads be shot at his home country; in order to bring profits to Jamaica.
When it comes to the love for his home country, the roots run deep for the fastest man on Earth. For giving him the opportunity to rise to fame and build an empire using his unique talent, Bolt demands that agencies must conduct shoots at his home country. Through this, he hopes to give back to his nation and community in one of many ways. In an interview with the Jamaican TV show ‘Profile’, he said:
“When we started out people always wanted to do the shoots in Miami, Los Angeles and all over the world. They [the locals] used to say, ‘Oh, thanks for bringing the shoots here. We decided that you know what, we will be doing a lot more shoots.”
“So any contract we sign, the shoot has to be in Jamaica. So we can give people jobs and help people. Over the weekends, we’ll have like over one hundred, two hundred people [working] depending on how big the shoot is. It [must be] in the contract that they’ll do the shoots here, unless they don’t have the equipment. But as long as they have the equipment, it has to be [done] here, so I can help the economy. I’ve helped a lot of people, and they always thank me. They would say, ‘Big up Usain, you really helped us, bringing the jobs here.'”
“I really try to help and really try to give as much as I can. It’s just a part of me. I also try to give a lot back to my community because I know the struggles; I came through it, and I see a lot of kids in the struggle.”
8. He’s quite the philanthropist.
Bolt is known for his charitable donations. The Usain Bolt Foundation helps children find opportunities through education and cultural development for a positive change. Earlier this year, the Bolt Foundation donated $1 million to protect at risk children and to provide support for families in need. In 2009, Bolt paid over £10,000 and adopted an abandoned cheetah cub named Lightning Bolt from Nairobi, Kenya. Since then, he pays £2,300 a year to ensure that the orphanage looking after the cub stays well equipped.
9. The fastest man on Earth suffers from scoliosis.
According to the Mayoclinic: “Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine that occurs most often during the growth spurt just before puberty”. Although the fastest man on Earth suffers from it, he does not let that stop him from achieving his dreams. In the December 12, 2011 issue of ESPN The Magazine, Bolt describes:
“When I was younger it wasn’t really a problem. But you grow and it gets worse. My spine’s really curved bad [makes “S” shape with finger]. But if I keep my core and back strong, the scoliosis doesn’t really bother me. So I don’t have to worry about it as long as I work hard. The early part of my career, when we didn’t really know much about it, it really hampered me because I got injured every year.”
10. The Jamaican athlete has an unusual stride.
Scientists have been studying Bolt for years in order to figure out the physics behind his incredible feat. In order to do so, they have been recording his races in slow motion and analyzing it to determine his body movements. The study conducted by researchers at Southern Methodist University found that his right leg strikes back with about 13% more peak force than his left leg. They also found that his left leg remained on the ground about 14% longer than his right leg. Now, the scientists are trying to determine whether stride plays a key role when it comes to speed.