This Day in History: Usain Bolt breaks 200-metre world record

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt broke the 200-metre world record at the Berlin World Championships on August 20, 2009.

On this day in 2009, Usain Bolt broke the 200-metre world record at the World Championships in Athletics in Berlin, Germany.

Bolt was coming off a brilliant world record in the 100 metres just four days before, dazzling spectators in the Olympic Stadium where he sprinted to 9.58 seconds.

It was clear to all that the Jamaican was in imperious form and would make an attempt at the 200-metre world record of 19.30 seconds which he set at the Beijing Olympics the previous year.

Usain Bolt celebrating his 200m world record at the Berlin World Championships in 2009. (Photo:

With the withdrawal of perennial rival American Tyson Gay, whom Bolt beat into second place in the 100m final, due to a groin injury, the way was clear for Bolt’s path to the title, but not the record.

Without the fierce competition to challenge Bolt, and hopefully the record, that many would have hoped for, it became a matter of him against the clock when the August 20 final rolled around.

Consistent throughout the rounds, Americans Wallace Spearmon and Shawn Crawford, Panama’s Alonso Edward, and Jamaican Steve Mullings seemed to be the main contenders for the minor medals.

Bolt, not usually the best starter, was first out the blocks when the gun signalled, beating all other competitors to the bend and convincingly pulled away with each stride. As he sprinted down the home stretch, all eyes were on the clock as Bolt chased a second World title, another world record and a place in athletics history!

He did not disappoint, breaking the previous record by 0.11 seconds and claiming his first of four 200m World Championship titles. Edward set an area record of 19.81 seconds to snatch silver from Spearmon who ran a season’s best 19.85 seconds for bronze.

Bolt would later partner with Mullings, Asafa Powell and Michael Frater to break the sprint relay world record and cap an incredible championship.

The great sprinter retired in 2017 after amassing eight Olympic gold medals and 11 at the World Championships.