Did Usain Bolt Ever Lose a Race at the Olympics?

Published 09/20/2021, 5:30 AM EDT
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 18: Usain Bolt of Jamaica celebrates after he wins Gold in the final of the Men’s 200m on Day 13 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 18, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Usain Bolt is arguably one of the greatest sprinters of all-time. During a lengthy career, the Jamaican asserted unprecedented dominance over his opponents, creating a legacy which looks extremely difficult to emulate, let alone better.

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With eight Olympic gold medals, the 35-year-old is one of the most successful Olympians in the event’s history. However, a sprinter competes in heats to qualify for the final, which decides the medal winners. Although he took home the gold in three consecutive Olympic Games, has he ever lost a race in the quadrennial event? The answer, surprisingly, is yes.

When did Usain Bolt lose an Olympic race?

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For this statistic, one needs to go as far back as 2004. In that year’s Athens Olympics, the Jamaican made his Games debut in the men’s 200m category. Prior to that, Bolt established himself as a prodigy during the 2002 World Junior Championships, and the 2003 CARIFTA Games.

However, he suffered a leg injury in his maiden Olympic appearance at the Athens. This led him to suffer a first-round exit as he finished fifth in his heat with a time of 21.05s. Polish sprinter Marcin Jedrusinski won the heat with a time of 20.63s.

Justin Gatlin, with whom he would share an intense rivalry, won the gold medal in those Games. To date, he remains the last American to win a gold medal in that category.

This defeat however, would be the only one in Bolt’s astonishing Olympic career. He won all his heats prior to winning gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay events in Beijing, London and Rio. However, he lost his 2008 Olympic gold medal in the 4x100m relay due to a doping violation committed by his teammate, Nesta Carter.

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Bolt retired after the 2017 World Athletics Championships

After the Rio Olympics, the Jamaican took part in the 2017 World Athletics Championships, which were held in London.

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 05: Usain Bolt of Jamaica celebrates during a lap of honour following finishing in third place in the mens 100m final during day two of the 16th IAAF World Athletics Championships London 2017 at The London Stadium on August 5, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Despite his dominance, Bolt suffered a shock loss in the final, finishing third behind Gatlin and Christian Coleman. He also pulled up due to injury in the 4x100m relay, following which he hung up his spikes.

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WATCH STORY: Five Most Painful Defeats in Usain Bolt’s Career

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Sanket Nair

878 articles

Sanket Nair is an F1 Author at EssentiallySports. A Sports Management graduate, he is a huge fan of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo and hopes to see Red Bull break Mercedes' dominance and win the World Championship soon. Sanket has been hooked to the sport ever since he watched the battle for the 2010 World Championship go down to the wire at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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