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by Sheree-Anita Shearer | Associate Writer
Athletics season is an electrifying time all over Jamaica. In every community, almost every person is glued to a TV, radio or other devices to catch a glimpse of what is usually a historical moment in Jamaica’s Track and Field. We have been extremely prolific due to the hard work and talent of our athletes.
The women of Jamaica have staked their claim on being some of the best sprinters in the world and the history of athletics as a whole. This is evidenced by the fact that 4 of the current 10 sprinters in the history of the sport are in fact Jamaican.
Namely, Merlene Ottey, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Shericka Jackson and Elaine Thompson-Herah who were able to beat Florence Griffiths-Joyner’s Olympic record that stood for decades at the 2020 Japan Olympics (held in 2021). Presently, 17 of the top 100 fastest female athletes in history are also Jamaicans.
Merlene Ottey has had a long and successful career competing for both Jamaica and Slovenia at an international level. She is often the inspiration for alot of Jamaican athletes, especially female sprinters.
Ottey has appeared at the most Olympic games in history; 6 times representing Jamaica and once in Slovenian colours. Known as the “bronze queen”, Ottey won the first ever female medal for Jamaica, a bronze in the 200m at the Moscow Olympic Games in 1980. She went on to win many silver and bronze medals however, the gold medal eluded her.
Despite not having gold in her overflowing cabinet of medals, Ottey’s space as a top athlete is solidified by her success and longevity at the top of the sport for decades.
She is currently the 10th fastest woman in history with 10.74 in the 100 metres in Arena Civica, Milano, Italy on 7th September 1996. The historic athlete has 9 Olympic medals (3 silver and 6 bronze). She retired in 2012 at age 52.
Deon Hemmings has the record for giving Jamaica its first of what would be many female gold medals. This was done at the 1996 Summer Olympics held in Atlanta, Georgia. Hemmings competed in the 400m hurdles.
In addition to her historic gold medal win, Hemmings also has 2 silver Olympic medals for the 400m and the 4x400m relay. The gold medalist retired in 2003.
Veronica Campbell-Brown affectionately called VCB is an Olympic medalist and world champion. Just 18 in 2002, Campbell Brown claimed her first Olympic medal, a silver in the 4x100m relay in Sydney Australia.
Even more historic, she is the youngest Jamaican to ever win a medal. She would go on to add many medals and championships to her name across the 100m and 200m sprints in the form of 7 Olympic Medals.
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics VCB became the second woman in history to defend her title at the Olympics by winning the 200m sprint yet again. Now a retired mother of two, VCB’s exploits on the tracks still reign as she is the 13th fastest woman in history with her 10.76 runs in Mestský Stadion, Ostrava (CZE).
Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn is now an active politician and member of the Jamaica Labour Party. Before this, however, she was representing the people of Jamaica on the track.
The Jamaican sprinter is 36th on the list of fastest women in history with her 10.84 wins in Estadio Olímpico, Barcelona, Spain in 1992. She has 3 Olympic medals two silver and 1 bronze medal.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is not only one of the most decorated Jamaican sprinters, it’s worldwide. The now 5x World Championship holder and 8-time Olympic medalist is the 3rd fastest woman in the world and the second fastest alive. Fraser-Pryce started out from her very first Olympic games, that being Beijing 2008 making history.
The then-21-year-old became the first Caribbean woman to win the 100m title at the Olympic games.
She became the second fastest woman alive when she ran 10.60 in the 100m in Stade Olympique de la Pontaise, Lausanne Switzerland, to equal the time ran by fellow Jamaican sprinter Elaine Thompson-Herah at the Japan Olympic Games.
Elaine Thompson Herah is currently the fastest woman alive after she ran 10.54 in Eugene, Oregon in the 100m. This after historically beating the Olympic record set by Florence Griffiths Joyner at the Japan Olympic games with the time 10.60 in the 100m.
She also won the gold in the 200 metres becoming the first woman to defend both her 100 and 200-metre titles at the Winter Olympic Games after she successfully defended her Rio 2016 achievements. This brings her total Olympic medals to 6 (5 gold and 1 silver).
Shericka Jackson is a powerhouse sprinter on the rise with quite several achievements to her name already. With her 10.71 runs in Stade Louis II, Monaco she became the 6th fastest woman in the world and the third fastest Jamaican woman.
So far, she has 5 Olympic medals in the 400 metres, 100-metre and 200 metres races. This added to many national, regional and international records under her belt.
Jamaica is quite used to winning all three top spots at international games and Shericka Jackson joined team members Elaine Thompson-Herah and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in delivering Jamaica’s most recent “1-2-3” photo finish at the Japan Olympic games.
But these are is just a few of the many feats of our female Jamaican sprinters. We look forward to evening more celebratory moments from our current runners and the countless others that the “sprint factory” has in store.
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Female Jamaican Sprinters | Written: August 22, 2022