Just as Usain Bolt was destined to be the world’s greatest runner, so too are some photos destined to become memes. 

So while Aussie photographer and Olympic correspondent for Getty Images, Cameron Spencer, certainly never intended for his glory shot of the Jamaican phenom barely breaking out of second gear to win the men’s 100m sprint final – flashing a Cheshire Cat-grin as he approached the finish line – to become primo meme fodder, that was just its destiny.


If you haven’t already lulzed at the best of the Internet’s creations, here are a couple of our faves (and we’ve compiled a bunch more here). 

But while we’re busy tagging mates in the best of ’em, Spencer meanwhile told PEDESTRIAN.TV he’s actually a little miffed his work has become the Internet’s latest plaything. 

“Memes are strange,” he said down the phone from Rio. “At the end of the day, people are ripping off your image and manipulating it. I don’t particularly like people ruining my artwork… but the good thing is that at least a lot of the versions of my shot doing the rounds haven’t actually been doctored, it’s just text being added.”

The man isn’t a total killjoy, so he can totally still appreciate / recognise the comedic value in a meme done right.

“When memes are really witty, they’re great. I’m ok with it.”

While we had him, we also asked Spencer to let us in on the story behind the once-in-a-lifetime photo of Bolt.


It was shot on a Canon 1DX MK2, with the shutter speed set to 1/40th of a second so he could ‘follow’ the sprinter with his lens and achieve the blurring effect that really conveys the speed with which he’s flying down the track (known in the biz as a ‘slow pan’).


Slow pans are hit-and-miss, but Getty had 11 photographers and 38 different cameras shooting the 100-metre semis and finals, so Spencer felt comfortable enough to risk it for the biscuit.


We now know his gamble paid off, big time, but even Spencer was blown away when the photo flashed up on his camera viewer.


“I could never have predicted that Bolt would literally slow down, look at me and smile as he flew past,” he told us. “But he’s an entertainer, and was so far in front of everyone that he could afford to put the brakes on around the 70m mark to really enjoy the last 20 to 30 metres. 

“As soon as he went past, I looked to see if the shots were sharp. When I saw the shot, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s exciting’. You don’t get a picture like that very often. I sent it to Getty straight away, and they were pretty amazed – I got texts and emails from colleagues and other photographers saying they loved it.”

It just as easily could have gone the other way, added Spencer.

“I had a handful of shots from the same sequence that were very blurry. That was the only one that was sharp.”

Born to be you and meme.

Photo: Getty / Cameron Spencer.