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Usain Bolt the Fastest Human - Does Yam Contributes to His Superb Speed Like His Father Claimed?

Updated on May 24, 2013

Usain Bolt 2012 Olympic Performance

Pics of Bolt

 Usain Bolt Signature Poise
Usain Bolt Signature Poise

Jamican's Yam

Usain Bolt, AkA "Lightning Bolt", the world fastest man alive, has repeated the stunning performance he gave in the men's 100m final in Beijing, during the 2004 Olympic. This time, the only difference is that he erased the old Olympic record of 9.69sec, he set in Beijing and replaced it with a new record of 9.63 sec in the 2012 Olympic, currently being held in London.

He now joins Carl Lewis as the second man to win that event back-to-back in the history of Olympics. However, he is the first man to ever win both the 100 and 200 meters back-to-back. Not only did Usain performs spectacular, he also broke his own 2004 Olympic record to set a new record in this current 2012 London Olympic games.

After his performance in Beijing, his dad claimed that his performance is due to the "Yam" that he has been eating over the years, but honestly, I personally believe this was meant to be a joke! If this were the case, all Jamaicans would be track stars simply because Yam is one of the staples that is consumed a lot by almost everyone in Jamaica. Another reason this theory doesn't hold true is due to the fact other Caribbean Islands and other countries as well have been eating Yam and still haven't been able to produce superb sprinters.

Even here in the U.S, many people have been eating yam or other equivalent starchy foods, such as Pasta, Bread,Potatoes and more, yet they are as slow as a "tortoise"; while others such as Tyson Gay,Carl Lewis, and other top U.S. male and female sprinters who haven't been eating Yam were still able to run at superb speed.

The question is, if yam is not responsible for the superb performance of Bolt, like his father claimed, what is it then? The explanation for this I personally think is very simple. In fact, if you are following sports commentary or the Olympic games, you might have heard that there was another Jamaican sprinter(Yohan Blake)who many people thought would have beaten Bolt in the 100meter, however, he finished second. It was alleged that he outran Usain in the 100m Olympic trial in Jamaica.

Any man who outran the fastest man alive, no doubt, is also a very fast runner and should be given some respect! Something must be going on why Bolt's rivalry was also another Jamaican! But if we take a look also at the women sprinters from Jamaica, they also usually perform well in both the 100 and 200m races.

In fact, in Beijing, the Jamaican female sprinters finished 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in the 100m. In this current 2012 London Olympic, the winner of the women's 100m was also a Jamaican. Of course, it was a tight battle between the U.S. and Jamaica, which ended in a very close finish.This goes to show that recently,not only Jamaica has known to produce some of the fastest male sprinters -- they also have been producing some of the top female sprinters.

This is what I think, first, the main reason Bolt has such superb speed is partly due to his genetic makeup! Secondly, in Jamaica, the moment you enter Grade School(Primary School), a tremendous amount of emphasis is placed on physical education. Every child is placed in what is known as a "House", each house may take the name of a color (Red house, Blue house, White house, Black house etc), or the name of some Popular People, such as the Country's National Heroes and so on. The school then set aside a day they called "sports Day"--- the day when all the houses will compete against each other for the championship.

It's common to see boys and girls of all ages competing in footraces after school and on weekends, in preparation for Sports Day. Even after sports day, they will continue these foot races. Sports day is usually a huge event, an entire village and also neighboring communities usually come out to support this "all day" occasion. Not only does the students get prizes along with certificates --- spectators may also give them a few dollars for their effort or spectacular performance.

When children enter High School, or Secondary Schools, both the house system and the kind of support sports day usually get from the communities usually remain similar to that of Grade School. However, a bit more emphasis is usually placed on physical education and the overall preparation of students for High School sports day and all the following championships:

  • High School Track and Field Championships
  • Regional High School Championships
  • National Championships
  • Girl's Championships
  • Boy's Championships
  • Gibson Relays
  • Special Developmental Track Meets

Other community level track events that also help to boost the performance of athletes in Jamaica, include the following:

  • Local Youth Clubs Meets
  • National Youth Clubs Meets
  • Police Youth Clubs Meets
  • After School and Weekend Community Foot Races


To summarize, Yam is not responsible for the superb performance of Usain Bolt like his father claimed. His superb performance, I believe is primarily due to his genetic makeup which is further enhanced by the day- to- day and all year around competitions that he has to face from his competitors(who are somewhat addicted to running)in his own community, throughout grade school, high school, and even post high school.

I.McFarlane 8/10/12


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    • mackyi profile imageAUTHOR

      I.W. McFarlane 

      6 years ago from Philadelphia

      Hi Savannah: First, I would like to apologize if I offended you by referring to Jamaica's "districts" as "villages." However, when you write you want readers to get a clear picture of whatever you are trying to share with them. I figured if I used the word "Village" as opposed to "districts" they would understand me better, based on the Wikipedia's definition of a Village --- "small districts with a population ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand people." The East village in Manhattan, NY and the Hamstead Village in London Conurbation are two of such examples given here. Hopefully, you will now understand the reason behind my choice of word!

      As far as Blake beating Bolt is concerned, I am merely reporting what I saw on tape and what was reported by news reporters. I am not here to elaborate on why Blake won the race! You would be surprised to know how much I know about Jamaica!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Villages?!?! What do u meAn by villages?!?! Jamaica is made up of cities and towns just like America not villages. Oh and Blake did beat bolt at the Olympic trials but talking to people that were there they said that boot wasn't really trying.

    • mackyi profile imageAUTHOR

      I.W. McFarlane 

      6 years ago from Philadelphia


      Thanks for your comment, and for sharing Author Geoffrey Colvin's perspective. Oh yes, ironically his name happens to be "Bolt" what a coincident?

    • nettraveller profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      I think you have answered the question: excellent genes, plus years of dedicated practice. There is a book called: "Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers From Everybody Else", by Geoffrey Colvin. No relation of mine, by the way, but in that book he explains about how many tens of thousands of hours of practice are needed before one can become world-class. As examples he uses soccer schools in Brazil, a tennis school that has produced a lot of Wimbledon winners, a famous music school, etc. That book fits in perfectly with this Hub. Very nice hub too!

      The other explanation is just a lot of yimyam :). It's interesting that his name is "Bolt", don't you think? The name conveys speed, like a lightning bolt.

    • mackyi profile imageAUTHOR

      I.W. McFarlane 

      6 years ago from Philadelphia

      This I have already gotten --- Yam is not responsible for Bolt's speed! His speed is a direct result of his personal genetic makeup, further enhanced by the right training, nutrition, and regular competition. Yam is merely carbohydrate which is essential to everyone's diet, but at the same token should only be consumed in moderation. While yam(carbs) may help endurance runners as a source of energy(ex. carb loading) for running long distances. Sprinters usually benefit more from proteins for building strong and bulkier muscles/muscle fibers(ex. fast twitch muscle fibers).

      I appreciate your participation in this discussion. Thanks for voicing your opinion.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Usain bolt is superhuman however all jamaicans have the ability to be sprinters. His Dad says this because the nutrition in a yam is very important and helps him to perform his best! So...his dad doesn't mean that he is fast just because he eats yams, he means that eating yams has helped his diet a lot towards being a sprinter!!!

    • mackyi profile imageAUTHOR

      I.W. McFarlane 

      6 years ago from Philadelphia

      CSNewYork: Thanks for your comment. You're so right, eating "Yams" has nothing to do with Bolt's natural talent! He was born with a gift and he was able to improve on it over the years. Other upcoming Jamaicans are currently working hard to be the next "Lightning Bolt". For example, Yohan Blake has already shown us that he has what it takes to be the next Jamaican champion. In addition, Bolt's performance has been motivating other runners here in the U.S. and all over the world. Believe me, some of these athletes will be working harder than before to erase his new Olympic record. Who this new guy will be, and when this will eventually happen, is just a matter of time!

    • CSNewYork profile image


      6 years ago from New Jersey

      Usain Bolt is just a superhuman. He is and will be, for a while, known as the fastest man in the world. Yams had nothing to do with it. It has to do with his unique makeup for a sprinter, and hard work. Nice hub by the way.


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