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Carl Lewis vs. Usain Bolt: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on March 11, 2024
Carl Lewis is an American former track and field athlete who won 9 Olympic golds in the 1980s and 1990s; Usain Bolt is a Jamaican sprinter considered the fastest man ever, holding world records in 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay.

Key Differences

Carl Lewis dominated the track and field scene in the 1980s and early 1990s, becoming one of the most decorated athletes in history. Usain Bolt, on the other hand, emerged in the late 2000s to break numerous records, earning the title of the fastest man alive. While Lewis was known for his versatility across long jump and sprints, Bolt specialized in short sprints, particularly the 100m and 200m races.
Lewis's career was marked by his exceptional long jump records and sprinting prowess, securing him a place among the greatest athletes of the 20th century. Bolt's era was defined by his unprecedented speed and charisma, captivating audiences worldwide and resetting expectations for sprinting performance. The impact of Lewis on the sport was profound, influencing generations of athletes with his dedication and competitive spirit. Bolt's influence extended beyond athletics, making him a global icon of excellence and determination.
Both athletes achieved iconic status, with Lewis being a key figure in track and field during the Cold War era, and Bolt becoming the face of the sport in the age of social media and global connectivity. Their legacies are not just defined by the medals they won but also by their contributions to the global appeal of track and field. Comparing Carl Lewis and Usain Bolt is not just about their records but also understanding their roles in the evolution of athletics and their lasting impact on the sport.

Comparison Chart



Olympic Gold Medals


World Records Held

Held world record in long jump and 100m.
Holds world records in 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay.


Late 2000s-2010s


Long jump and sprints
Short sprints (100m and 200m)

Carl Lewis and Usain Bolt Definitions

Carl Lewis

World record holder.
In his prime, Carl Lewis set a world record in the 100m dash.

Usain Bolt

World record breaker.
Bolt's 200m world record performance was breathtaking.

Carl Lewis

Olympic gold medalist.
Carl Lewis's performance at the 1984 Olympics was historic.

Usain Bolt

Jamaican sprinter.
Usain Bolt's charisma has made him a national hero in Jamaica.

Carl Lewis

Long jump specialist.
Lewis's technique in the long jump is studied by athletes worldwide.

Usain Bolt

Fastest man alive.
Usain Bolt shattered the 100m world record.

Carl Lewis

American track and field legend.
Carl Lewis won four Olympic gold medals in the long jump.

Usain Bolt

Olympic legend.
Usain Bolt is the only sprinter to win Olympic 100m and 200m titles at three consecutive Olympics.

Carl Lewis

Icon of athletics.
Carl Lewis's contributions to track and field extend beyond his medals.

Usain Bolt

Global sports icon.
Usain Bolt's influence transcends athletics, making him a household name worldwide.


Who is Carl Lewis?

An American former track and field athlete, known for winning 9 Olympic gold medals.

How many Olympic gold medals did Usain Bolt win?

Usain Bolt won 8 Olympic gold medals.

How many Olympic gold medals did Carl Lewis win?

Carl Lewis won 9 Olympic gold medals.

What records does Usain Bolt hold?

Bolt holds world records in the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay.

What era did Carl Lewis dominate?

Lewis dominated track and field in the 1980s and early 1990s.

In which events did Carl Lewis compete?

Lewis competed in long jump and sprints, including the 100m and 200m races.

How did Carl Lewis impact athletics?

Lewis influenced generations of athletes with his dedication and versatility.

Who is Usain Bolt?

A retired Jamaican sprinter, considered the fastest man ever with world records in the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay.

Can Carl Lewis's achievements be compared to Bolt's?

While different in nature, both athletes' achievements have left a lasting impact on track and field.

What is Carl Lewis's legacy?

Lewis's legacy is that of one of the greatest athletes in track and field history.

What is Usain Bolt's legacy?

Bolt's legacy is that of the fastest man in history and a sports icon.

What makes Usain Bolt unique?

Bolt's unprecedented speed and personality make him a global icon in sports.

Did Carl Lewis ever hold a world record?

Yes, Lewis held world records in long jump and the 100m dash.

During which years was Usain Bolt active?

Bolt was active in competitive sprinting from the late 2000s through the 2010s.

What distinguished Carl Lewis in long jump?

Lewis was known for his consistency and technique in long jump, winning four consecutive Olympic golds in the event.

What is a memorable quote from Usain Bolt?

One of Bolt's famous quotes is, "Anything is possible. I don't think limits."

How has Usain Bolt contributed beyond athletics?

Bolt's charisma and achievements have made him a global ambassador for sport.

Were Carl Lewis and Usain Bolt contemporaries?

No, Lewis's career was primarily in the 1980s and 1990s, while Bolt rose to fame in the late 2000s.

How did Usain Bolt change sprinting?

Bolt's achievements and personality brought renewed excitement and global attention to sprinting.

Did Carl Lewis and Usain Bolt compete in the same events?

They both competed in sprints, but Lewis also excelled in the long jump, an event Bolt did not compete in.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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