Usian Bolt was born on August 21, 1986 in Sherwood Content, Jamaica. He grew up obsessed with sports, excelling in football and cricket. At high school, his cricket coach encouraged him in athletics. It was a good decision. He first gained notice as a track prodigy at the 2002 world junior championships. Before a crowd of 36,000 in Jamaica's National Stadium in Kingston, Bolt, then just 15 years old, won a gold medal in the 200-meter race. He became the youngest male world junior champion in the history of sports.
By 2007, he was the fastest man in track and field history, setting his first 100-meter world record; and a year later, at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, he rose to international fame. In China, Bolt won titles in the men’s 100-meter sprint, the 200-meter, and 4x100-meter, setting new world records in all three events.
He has the title of being the fastest human who's ever lived based on known records. In 2009, at the World Athletics Championship in Berlin, he ran the 100-meter dash in 9.58 seconds, with an average speed was just over 23 mph and a top speed closer to 30 mph.
He amazed fellow athletics and fans alike, but he may be challenged by two runners from biblical days. The Bible tells the stories of Elijah and Philip as fast runners.
The story of Elijah is recorded in 1 Kings 18. “The power of the Lord came upon Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.” The Bible does not record how fast Elijah ran, but we do know that it was a miraculous speed.
King Ahab was riding in his chariot to stay ahead of the storm and it is believed that his top speed would have been 35 miles per hour. The distance from Carmel to Jezreel was about 20 miles and if Ahab was pushing his horses, then it is likely Elijah ran even faster than Usain Bolt’s world record and at a much longer distance.
The story of Philip and the eunuch is recorded in Acts 8. “Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him anymore.” In a flash, Philip then appeared in Azotus preaching the good news. The distance was about 30 miles to the north. Estimating a flash is one second, a track and field judge might calculate his speed at 30 miles per second or 108,000 miles per hour. This was another miraculous speed. In the finite mind of man, Philip’s run and Elijah’s run would be completely impossible. But as the angel told Mary “... with God nothing will be impossible.”
As believers in Christ, we may not win a particular race or field event, but we can finish strong in God’s race. Paul said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” As a result, there was a crown waiting for him in heaven. There will also be a crown in store for each one of us, should we run our race in the power of God's miraculous grace.
If we run the race, keep the faith and allow the Lord to work through us, nothing is impossible.