After winning nine gold medals and breaking countless records, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt can confidently claim to be “the fastest man in the world” and he has been called the greatest sprinter in history. This incredible runner holds world records in three different categories: the 100-meter sprint, the 200 meters, and the 4-by-100-meter relay.
But Bolt isn’t just an athlete who makes incredible physical feats appear effortless; he is a gentleman who remains cool, calm, and classy at all times.
So when a situation arose where Bolt had to choose between completing a TV interview or giving his attention to the U.S. National Anthem, the decision was an easy one for the athlete.
Usain Bolt first came to prominence in the mid-2000s when he was touted as a rising star from the Caribbean island of Jamaica. This tiny nation has produced some of the greatest sprinters in the world, such as Donald Quarrie, Merlene Ottey, and Asafa Powell.
When Bolt came to the Beijing Olympics in 2008, people were hoping for great things from this young man but never expected that he would pull off the first “triple sprint win” (100 meters, 200 meters, 4-by-100-meter) since Carl Lewis in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
From then on, Bolt has been the man to beat at world competitions and subsequent Olympics in London and Rio de Janeiro. Though many have tried, none have ever matched his speed or his style, and his only competition is historical, in the form of Carl Lewis, whom he’s tied with at nine gold medals.
But while Bolt had no trouble calling himself “the greatest” at the Rio Olympics, he has also showed his greatness in other ways. At the 2012 Olympics in London, Bolt held on to his title as “fastest man in the world,” breaking his own record with a 9.63-second finish.
After the race was over, journalists were obviously desperate to interview the athlete who had the eyes of the world on him. A female reporter from TVE (the Spanish equivalent of the BBC) came up to Bolt and began talking with him during the women’s 400 meters, where American athlete Sanya Richards-Ross won gold.
To mark her victory, the speakers began playing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” As Bolt heard the familiar tune, he broke off the interview, pointing to the stand where the medalists were being honored.
The Spanish reporter tried to continue the interview, oblivious to the anthem, but Bolt was firm in his decision to honor his fellow runner’s accomplishment and the song that represented her country. She finally understood what was happening and apologized to Bolt for not having understood what he was doing.
At a time when many American athletes, particularly in the NFL, are sitting down or kneeling during the National Anthem pre-game, Bolt’s gesture of respect for the United States and its anthem have been noted by many, including the President.
This legendary sprinter has set an example for others, showing that respect for fellow athletes’ achievements on behalf of their countries count more than publicity.