It's over - Bolt 'the greatest' makes dreaded Olympic farewell

Rio de Janeiro,The Olympics is going to miss the Lightning Bolt pose that has lit up the last three Games at a time when athletics desperately needs a hero. 

When Usain Bolt crosses the finish line and starts pounding his chest, it resonates with the public around the world.

But after his 4x100m triumph in Rio on Friday, the Rio crowd celebrated in the knowledge that they were witnessing the departure of a legend.

From his first 100m Olympic gold in Beijing, when the Jamaican astonished the world with his 9.69sec time, Usain St Leo Bolt has been the real star.

On top of his record-equalling nine athletics gold medals, Bolt, who will be 30 on Sunday, is confident, relaxed and supremely connected with the crowds he attracts wherever he goes.

His mother seems to think that the young Bolt, who will retire after next year's world championships, was born to run.

Born in Trelawny parish near Montego Bay -- where a host of sprinters including the shamed Ben Johnson also come from

Bolt was something special from the start, according to Jennifer Bolt.

"After three weeks he was pushing because he was so strong," the mother said. 

"One day, I left him on the bed and when I came back he was close to falling off, so from here I was saying, 'What kind of child he is?" she recalled.

By the age of 12, Bolt was the fastest in his school. "He was always on top," she said. Slow starter 

A school cricket coach urged him to try track and field and his talent gradually grew, though as in his races his progression was not always fast out of the blocks.

At the world youth championships in 2001, he was entered  for the 200m but failed to make the finals. His coaches were often frustrated at his reluctance to train and his practical jokes.

But at the age of 15 he was already 1.96 metres (6ft 5in) and at the world junior championships in 2002 he won the 200m. He is one of just a handful of athletes to have won world titles at junior, youth and senior levels.

The after-effects of a leg injury meant he did not get past the first round in the 200m at the 2004 Athens Olympics, where his Rio rival Justin Gatlin won the 100m. 

PTI