Thursday, Jul. 24, 2008

12. Usain Bolt

Age: 21

Bolt, the world's fastest man, is naturally nicknamed "The Lightning Bolt." But this tall (6ft. 5in.), precocious Jamaican sprinter is a ray of hope for a sport whose unrelenting doping scandals have won it the same derision heaped on baseball and cycling. On May 31, at a meet in New York City, Bolt barreled to a100m world record of 9.72 seconds, breaking the 9.74-second mark set by countryman Asafa Powell. It was a bolt-out-of-the blue feat, since Bolt is chiefly a 200m man who'd run only a handful of 100s. Bolt is untainted by doping suspicion and has even sworn off legal partying (he loves to dance at his Aunt Lilly's reggae bar near his hometown, Trelawny) to prepare for Beijing. Whether or not he beats seasoned runners like Powell and America's Tyson Gay, he's already given the image of sprinting a fresh look.