The Already-Iconic Photo Of Usain Bolt Smiling While Winning The 100M Was No Accident

usain bolt
Getty Image

Usain Bolt made all kinds of history by winning his third gold medal in the 100 meter final at the Rio Olympics on Sunday night, but the lasting image from the evening, the one that sums up the essence of Bolt, came from the semifinal heat that he won easily just 90 minutes before, signifying that he was back and fully recovered from the hamstring injury which plagued his runup to the games.

The photo was iconic the second it dropped on the internet, and in this day and age that means it got meme’d. But lest you think it was the work of some shutterbug just clicking wildly at the blurs going by, hoping to get one good shot out of dozens, know that the photographer, Getty’s Cameron Spencer, set up by knowing exactly when Bolt would pass by the other racers:

When shooting the world’s fastest man you always need to be on your toes and ready. Last night when he flew past me with perfect technique and his huge stride, he looked back and smiled; I only had a moment to capture this epic Olympic moment, but I was in the right place, ready.

I decided to take a risk and shoot a pan at a slow shutter speed, knowing he would coast past his competitors around the 70 m mark. He makes it look easy, almost playing with his competitors. Bolt is so confident and such an elite athlete, shooting him is an amazing experience.

That slow shutter speed is why Bolt is the only sprinter in focus in the photo, increasing the impact of the image even more. The athletes aren’t the only elite professionals at the Olympics, clearly.

(Via CBS Sports)