Eight-time Olympic gold medallist. Eleven-time World Champion. Current world record holder in 100m, 200m and 4x100 m relay for Jamaica. In a career spanning 13 years, Bolt’s domination in track and field was unrivalled and he established himself as one of the greatest sprinters of all time.

But what was he like before he took the world by storm?

It all started at the age of 12 when Bolt raced his friend Ricardo Gedes for a bet at William Knibb Memorial high school in Trelawny, Jamaica. The local priest at the school offered the winner free lunch and it was Bolt who emerged winner in that race. There has been no looking back for Bolt since then. That epic race has been well-documented in the animated film, ‘The Boy who learned to fly’ by Gatorade.


Bolt made people take note of his talent at the early age of 15 at the 2002 World Junior Championships in his hometown Kingston, becoming the youngest junior gold medallist after winning the 200m race. A year later, he clinched the 200m gold in record-breaking fashion at the World Youth Championships in Canada.

As a youngster, Bolt was attracted to cricket and football more but he began taking athletics more seriously only after being trained by his physical education teacher Dwight Barnett at William Knibb Memorial, who was his first coach.

Here’s a glimpse of Bolt as a 17-year-old before he became an Olympic phenomenon: