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On this day: Usain Bolt keeps getting faster

Sports Mole remembers August 16 in 2008 and 2009 as Usain Bolt twice smashes his own world record.

It could be argued that August 16 is the fastest day in history. It has certainly been a kind day to the quickest man ever to walk the planet, in particular 2008 and 2009.

Before 2007 you could have been forgiven for not being aware of the the then young Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, but he was about to embark on a few years that would see him become one of the biggest sporting stars on Earth.

Heading into the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 Bolt was the heavy favourite and currently world record holder (9.72s, set less than three months before) but he was still, in sporting terms, only a young athlete at 20 years old. It had not yet been seen how the man from Trelawny would cope with the immense pressure that was now on his shoulders.

Jamaica's gold medalist Usain Bolt poses on the podium a day after winning the men's 100m at the National stadium as part of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on August 17, 2008.© Getty Images

What was to follow was a breathtaking display of speed that had never been seen before. The stage had been set as Bolt romped home in his semi-final in a time of 9.92s without ever reaching top speed.

Historically, the winning time for the main Olympic event has been affected largely by the headwind. However, on August 16, 2008, Bolt destroyed an incredibly fast field without a headwind to help him to smash his own world record by 0.03s, in a time of 9.69s.

Impressive, yes, but what really made everyone sit up and take notice was the manner of victory. Six of the eight starters managed a time of under 10 seconds, but still no-one could get close to Bolt. He was 0.2s ahead of his closest challenger Richard Thompson and even slowed down in the final 25 metres to begin his celebrations.

Jamaica's Usain Bolt crosses the finish line to win the men's 100m final at the 2008 Olympic Games on August 16, 2008© Getty Images

This was a man who knew he could go faster but who was not yet done entertaining the world. And he was not wrong.

It was previously understood that male 100m sprinters could improve their speed enough to shave roughly a tenth of a second off the world record every decade or so. Of course, Bolt being Bolt, had to make a mockery of that just as he had the world record in Beijing.

The year was 2009. Bolt was another year older and wiser and he had proven exactly a year ago without any doubt that he thrived on pressure instead of crumbling under it. A few months before the Berlin World Athletics Championship the sprinter suffered minor injuries in a car crash, but an impressive performance in the Jamaican trials set him up well for the event.

Jamaica's Usain Bolt celebrates winning the men's 100m final race of the 2009 IAAF Athletics World Championships and setting a new World Record time on August 16, 2009© Getty Images

And then came the moment. Bolt had already broken a record in the heats having set the fastest pre-final time ever of 9.89s, but even that could not prepare the crowd for what they were about to witness.

This time he went for it and despite a time from Tyson Gay that would have claimed the world record in 2007, Bolt ran a breathtaking 9.58s, which of course still stands to this day.

He once said: "It's what I came here to do. I'm now a legend. I'm also the greatest athlete to live. I've got nothing left to prove."

There will be no arguments here.

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