Jamaican Olympic Team: Usain Bolt (Gold Medalist)
Why this is a big quit:
The fastest man alive will walk away from racing. Usain Bolt first sprinted on to the world’s meme-verse in the 2008 Olympics 100 meter final in Beijing. In a competition among the best of the best, Bolt quickly distanced himself from the pack. For the next decade, non absurdly-obvious-last-named runners were better off pursuing their fallback career. Bolt ran 21 global championship races from 2008-2016, the 100 meters, 200 meters, and 4×100 meter relay at 3 Olympics and 4 world championships and won 19 of them. That is 19 more than you did, or anyone else, and the 11-time world champion cheetah-man broke the men’s 100m race record with an astonishing 9.58 seconds completion time. Bolt, synonymous with both track and field and beating opponents without sweating, leveraged his success into endorsements from Puma, Sprint, Advice, and many others. He set the athletic bar as high as it can go, inspiring “The Bolt Effect”: the jump in performance of the top 25 athletes in the world following his record time.
Why this is not as big as the top 10:
While his name will always remind us of what he did better than anyone, Mr. Lightning is another reminder that athletes’ peaks are often as quick as their races. In his last race, at age 30, Usain tore his left hamstring and only finished third, his aches and injuries from years of g-force starts finally took their toll. Though out of Olympic races, he will continue to represent Jamaican track in brand and spirit, so not fast enough to make the top 10 Biggest Quits.