Looking up to Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt, Ostrava, 2011

This is the world’s fastest man Usain Bolt, the world record holder and double Olympic champion in the 100 and 200 meter dashes, chatting with reporters after a 100 meter race in Ostrava, Czech Republic in May 2011. Facebook reminded me this morning that this was taken five years ago today.

How fast is the 29-year-old Jamaican? During his most recent 100m world record of 9.58 seconds set at the 2009 world championships in Berlin, he reached a peak speed of 46 kilometers an hour. He also set the world record in the 200m, 19.19 seconds, at those same world championships. (I previously published a photo taken from my press seat of him blasting towards that record.)

In this shot, he slowed down long enough for reporters to ask him a few questions and for me to snap this from the hip –literally. When I watched the tape recorders take aim and ascend towards his tall hulking figure, I couldn’t resist this perspective.

I’ve spent the better part of more than a decade-and-a-half reporting on professional track and field and distance running. I’ve covered the last three Summer Olympic Games and dozens of international championships and events in more than 25 countries on four continents. I witnessed four of Bolt’s world records, two of his three in the 100 and both over 200m. This will always be my favorite track shot and will always hang on a wall nearby.

A color version, and an uncropped black and white version, are below.

Usain Bolt, Ostrava, 2011
Usain Bolt, Ostrava, 2011

 

Usain Bolt, Ostrava, 2011
Usain Bolt, Ostrava, 2011

This year Bolt is targeting a pair of historical milestones: to become the first triple triple Olympic gold medalist –100m, 200m and 4x100m relay— and to break the 19-second barrier in the 200m.

How does that translate into Bolt as a business?

Bolt came in at #73 on the 2015 Forbes list of the World’s Highest-Paid Athletes, with earnings estimated at $USD 21 million. That’s substantial for a sport like track and field, where prize money is a fraction of what it is in many other professional sports. According to Forbes, his contract with chief sponsor Puma is worth $10 million a year through 2017. It’s widely accepted that Bolt commands a fee of $200-$250,000 to race at an event, amounts never before seen in the sport.

If he pulls off the Rio trifecta, expect those fees to climb even higher.

Photo specs:

  • ISO 800
  • 18mm
  • f/5.0
  • 1/15sec

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For the record: Today’s Pic du Jour, the site’s 879th straight, was snapped in Ostrava, Czech Republic, on 31-May-2011.

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Enjoy, share and re-gram on and from Instagram:

A photo posted by Bob Ramsak (@bobramsak) on


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  1. poshbirdy says

    Fantastic shot

  2. Carol A. Hand says

    Great photo!

  3. paula graham says

    Wonderful view point you managed to get, resulting in a striking shot of the fastest man on earth.

  4. pm says

    Brilliant, says so much more than trying to barge through the crowd for a clear shot.

  5. 2e0mca says

    That’s a superb angle and works really great in B&W 🙂

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