Usain Bolt’s dedicated most of his life to becoming the world’s fastest man, but did that stop him from going to college?
Usain Bolt trained at the University of Technology, Jamaica but didn’t pursue an academic degree during his time at college. The Olympic champion later received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of the West Indies.
Bolt’s Early Education
Usain Bolt wasn’t a model student, but that didn’t stop him from standing out. People became aware of his natural athletic abilities at an early age, and the sprinter admitted that he “didn’t really think about anything other than sports” growing up.
Bolt was twelve when a local priest Reverend Nugent overheard him arguing with his friend Ricardo Gedes over who could run faster. Nugent encouraged them to race each other and promised free lunch to the winner, and Bolt won by a landslide.
He also excelled in the 100 meters distance races at his elementary school Waldensia Primary and could easily beat all the other boys. Despite his obvious talent, he was dreaming of a professional cricket career and trained this sport at the William Knibb Memorial High School.
Bolt’s cricket coach suggested his abilities are better suited for track and field events after noticing his speed. He agreed to give sprinting a try, but lacked focus and discipline, and mostly relied on his natural abilities.
During his high school years, Bolt developed a close relationship with his PE teacher Lorna Thorpe. They stayed in touch in the years to come and the Olympic champion often credited her for his success.
“She’s like a second mum. When I was in high school she looked out for me, she was always on me in school, making sure everything was ok, always focused. So she played a very big part for me,” Bolt told BBC.
Most people learned Usain Bolt’s name after the 2008 Summer Olympics, but he’s been winning medals since the early 2000s. By the time 2005 rolled around, he already won numerous junior competitions, including CARIFTA Games and World Junior Championships.
It didn’t take long for the US talent scouts to notice Bolt’s incredible talent, and he received scholarships from several American colleges. Instead of going overseas, the young sprinter decided to stay in Jamaica because he didn’t want to be far away from his family.
Bolt eventually started training at the University of Technology, Jamaica. It’s important to note that he didn’t study towards a degree during his time here and simply used their training facilities, but he’s considered as a notable alumnus of this college.
UTech’s director of sport, Anthony Davis, discussed Bolt’s success with Evening Standard in 2016. He described this university as a pioneer in training Jamaican athletes at home and helping them thrive and break records on the international scene.
Bolt’s Honorary Degree
Usain Bolt never attended college in the formal sense of the word, but that didn’t stop him from getting a degree. Back in 2011, the University of the West Indies awarded the Olympic sprinter with the Honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
By this point in time, Bolt already had several notable honorary titles to his name. Shortly after winning two gold medals at the 2008 Summer Olympics, he was made a Commander of the Order of Distinction and received the Order of Jamaica in 2009.
Despite his many achievements, the decision to award Bolt with an honorary degree was somewhat polarizing. Many students of the UWI felt he didn’t deserve the degree in the field of law and believed that the whole thing was just a publicity stunt.Back in 2010, Bolt was also considered for an honorary doctorate for distinction in sport from Queen’s University in Belfast. It’s still not too late for him to pursue a college degree if he wants to since his schedule freed up after his retirement from sprinting in 2017.