Bolt's Breakthrough

Fans argue endlessly about which race made it clear Usain Bolt would be a star. In most cases, the race selected is either Bolt's stunning 100 metre 9.76 second victory at the 2008 Jamaica Invitational, his world record defeat of Tyson Gay later that same season in New York, clocked in 9.72, or his eased-off 9.69 second dash in the Beijing Olympics. All three are good choices. 

Bolt 2007However, there is one other competition which represents an important juncture in his career. A year before those brilliant races, the 20 year-old Bolt lined up in lane 5 for the final of the 200m at Jamaica's National Championships. A great start and a rapid run around the curve put him ahead of Chris Williams, the 2001 World Championship runner-up. From there, the 6-5, 194 pound Jamaican hammered away full of intent to lower the longstanding Jamaica record by 0.11 to 19.75 seconds. 

The time put him level with Carl Lewis, the 1984 Olympic champion, and Joe DeLoach at joint 9th fastest on the world all-time 200 metre performance list. It also broke the national record of 19.86 seconds held since 1971 by Donald Quarrie. 

"For me, Don Quarrie was somebody to watch and be amazed by", Bolt once said of the 1976 Olympic champion. "That's why I love the 200 so much because I've seen Don Quarrie and I said, 'I can be that good'."

As fate would have it, Quarrie was inside Jamaica's National Stadium and watched Bolt break his record. Gracious as ever, DQ immediately went to congratulate the youngster. For those present, it was like a passing of the torch from one great to another. 

That special touch, Bolt's benediction by Quarrie, makes that 200 metre run, on June 24, 2007, extra special.  Altogether, the performance was proof that Bolt's early promise was about to grow into something more at the senior level. Bolt himself knew he had turned a corner. "It's time to get serious", he told the US publication TRACK AND FIELD NEWS. "I'm hungry for a title under my belt", he professed. 

It wasn't idle talk. He won silver behind Gay at the 2007 World Championship and then began a streak of big meet victories unparalleled in athletics. Coached by Glen Mills, he did world record 100/200 doubles at the 2008 Olympics and the 2009 World Championships. By the time he retired, Bolt had done the Olympic and World Championship double three times each.

Set in 2009, his world records remain awesome at 9.58 seconds for the 100 and 19.19 in his beloved 200 metres. 

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