Usain Bolt has dominated the fast lane in the world of athletics since he smashed the world record for the fastest 100m in 2008 in New York so much so you struggle to recall what sprint running was all about pre the Bolt era.
In fact, if you were to ask anyone in the world ‘name a 100m sprinter’, nine times out of 10 the answer would be Bolt with a few names thrown in. However, despite steaming ahead and winning golds at both of the last two Olympic Games, and earning the world record for the most wins of the 100m at the Olympics, he doesn’t hold this record outright. This he shares with another speedster from times gone by. Can you guess who? Let’s save you the trouble. This man was the incredibly multi-talented Carl Lewis, an all-round track and field athlete.
The 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles would act as the setting and start of Carl Lewis’ medal haul at the Olympic Games. After landing gold in the 100m in a time of 9.99 seconds he was hell-bent on matching the iconic feat achieved by Jesse Owens in 1936 by winning four gold medals in one Olympic Games. He would match Owens’s success by picking up golds in the 200m, long jump and 4x100m relay.
At the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, his quest for gold in the 100m, in which would then be the record outright for the most 100m golds won at the Olympic Games, would prove to be controversial one in what many have lauded as the greatest race in history or, to some, as the Dirtiest Race.
His nearest competitor, Ben Johnson, one in which he formed an intense battle with throughout the 80’s, won the 100m final with Lewis finishing runners up. However, three days later, Johnson tested positive for steroids, his medal was taken away and Lewis was awarded gold and credited with a new then Olympic record for 100m. He would also set a world record in the long jump with an astonishing 8.72 meters.
His achievements in the long jump should be held in an equal esteem if not higher having won gold four times at the Olympic Games in LA (1984), Seoul, Korea (1988), Barcelona, Spain (1992) and Atlanta, USA (1996). He still holds the world record for the long jump with a distance of 8.79 m (28 ft 10.06 in) which he set in 1984.
Lewis has also had his own controversial moments having tested positive three times for stimulant abuse at the 1988 Olympics Trials. This was dismissed by the United States Olympic Committee when the athlete said he had ingested them mistakenly in a herbal supplement.
This failed to diminish the achievements he achieved during his career and has received numerous accolades, including being voted "World Athlete of the Century" by the International Association of Athletics Federations and "Sportsman of the Century" by the International Olympic Committee.
It is fitting and should come as no surprise that Bolt and Lewis have exchanged many words in recent years questioning one another’s careers in athletics and the 100m field. With Bolt, though, looking to run again in Rio in 2016, he can claim the record for the most golds in the 100m at the Olympics Games outright and what better way to let your feet and speed do the talking.