How Usain Bolt became the first athlete to do the Olympics 'triple triple'

Usain Bolt is the first sprinter in history to do the 'triple triple' i.e. win three gold medals in the same three events at three straight Olympics.

Usain Bolt en route to winning the 200m race in the London Olympics. (Image: Twitter)

That Usain Bolt is a legend in the world of track and field athletics and the Olympics is not up for debate. The Jamaican sprinter became a global superstar at a time when athletics needed it the most. The sport was reeling from multiple athletes being found out for doping. As a result, the sport was suffering from a crisis of credibility. Bolt came around and not only was he a clean athlete, he was among the best to do it too. As such, the Jamaican will always remain in a class of his own in the world of athletics.

Bolt was also the first sprinter in history to do the ‘triple triple’ i.e. win three gold medals in the same three events at three straight Olympics.

The events in question are, of course, the 100m sprint, the 200m sprint and the 4 x 100m relay race. And while he was stripped of the 2016 Olympics 4 x 100 m relay gold due to a teammate testing for a banned substance, Bolt is not responsible for that.

Thus, on his 35th birthday, we take a look back at his momentous achievement.

2008 – the rise of the legend

Bolt’s appearance at the 2004 Athens Olympics came to a premature close due to injuries. However, he came into the 2008 Beijing Games as the world-record holder in the 100m event.

He had notably worked hard to improve in both the 100m and 200m discipline, and was thus favourite to win both gold medals. He won the 100m gold medal with ease, finishing 0.2 seconds ahead of Richard Thompson in second place.

However, there was a bit of controversy about his win. Before crossing the finishing line, Bolt thumped his chest in celebration. It was seen by many as arrogance – and it also arguably cost him a bigger record margin.

He was criticised by many but also defended for his actions. For his part, Bolt seemed unaffected by the furore. “I wasn’t bragging. When I saw I wasn’t covered, I was just happy,” is what he had to say about his celebration.

Bolt followed this with a gold in the 200m event, where he also broke Michael Johnson’s 19.32 seconds record. Bolt clocked 19.30 seconds despite being heavily impeded by the wind.

He topped this off with another record-breaking gold in the relay event. A new legend of the sport was born.

2012 – Doubters ‘shused’ as Bolt wins three golds again

Unlike in 2008, there was some doubt over Bolt’s certainty of winning gold in the 2012 London Olympics. The reason? The rise of compatriot Yohan Blake, who had bested Bolt in the Jamaican Athletics Championships prior to the Games.

Yet it didn’t matter once the Games rolled around. Bolt would again win gold in the 100m event, improving upon his 2008 timing by clocking 9.63 seconds.

He then became the first man in Olympics history to defend the 100m and 200m crown when he won gold in the latter event as well. The 200m was notable for Jamaica sweeping the podium; Blake and Warren Weir took silver and bronze, respectively.

What was also notable, however, was Bolt’s recation to his win. He put a finger to his lips before crossing the finish line, clearly ‘shushing’ his critics.

And after the win, he did five push-ups to celebrate – one for every gold he had won thus far. He also made a bold declaration afterwards. “I’m now a legend. I’m also the greatest athlete to live.”

He followed this up with another gold in the 4 x 100m relay event. The legend of Usain Bolt was now getting impossible to ignore.

2016 – Usain Bolt solidifies legendary status

The 2016 Games were set to be Bolt’s swansong from the mega-event. Indeed, he would retire from the sport in 2017 after the World Athletics Championships.

Again, there was some doubt over where he could win golds this time around. Justin Gaitlin was the athlete in form coming into the Games. Yet the form book went out of the window once the Games rolled around.

Bolt won the 100m gold yet again, clocking a time of 9.81 seconds – slower than his times in 2008 and 2012 but still good enough to be the best. He was now the first man to win the 100m Olympic gold three consecutive times.

He repeated the feat in the 200m race, again becoming the first to win that particular gold medal thrice consecutively. And he completed the ‘triple triple’ with a gold in the 4 x 100m relay event.

In his final Games, Bolt went out on the top. A fitting farewell to an absolute legend.

Sportslumo Desk

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