"I always thought Bolt could be special," says Trinidadian legend Ato Boldon

By April 04, 2022

When you think about the greatest athletes of all time in any sport, Jamaica’s eight-time Olympic gold medallist and multiple world record holder Usain Bolt, will always come to mind.

Bolt, who retired in 2017, dominated global athletics for a decade winning the 100/200m sprint double in an unprecedented three consecutive Olympic Games (2008, 2012 and 2016). He also won the sprint double at the 2009, 2013, and 2015 World Championships to go along with the 200m title he won in Daegu in 2011. Bolt's world records of 9.58 and 19.19 set in 2009, have remained unchallenged for more than a decade. 

His dominance was something many expected when they first saw him and track & field pundit and four-time Olympic medallist Ato Boldon is no different.

“I always thought Bolt could be special if somebody bridged that gap between his junior success and getting into the pros and his coach Glen Mills did that,” Boldon said in an interview with Athletics Weekly.

Boldon recalled how remarkable Bolt was the first time he ever saw him compete.

“The first time I saw him was actually a long way before the rest of the world was paying attention. He was at the Caribbean Games in 2004 and he set the World U20 200m record, clocking 19.93. It lasted all the way until last year,” he said. The USA Erriyon Knighton broke Bolt's U18 and U20 world records in 2021.

“He had his chain tucked into his mouth and he took the last 100m off. He was looking at girls in the stand and could’ve waved to the crowd, he was so far in front. He ran 19.93! Imagine a junior doing that? I’d never seen anybody that tall move their legs that quickly. Of course, he went to the Athens Olympics later on that year and didn’t get through the first round. Then in 2005, he re-emerges and he’s on the pro circuit,” he added.

Bolt’s rise didn’t come without setbacks as in 2005, he got to the final of the Men’s 200m at the World Championships in Helsinki and was in position for a medal before he pulled up injured with about 60 metres to go, finishing eighth in 26.27.

“Two years later in 2007, he gets the World 200m silver medal (in Osaka, Japan) behind Tyson Gay and he arrives. Everyone knows what then happened in Beijing in 2008,” Boldon said.

"As they say, the rest is history."

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