Here are our picks for the Top 16 Jamaican Track Athletes (not in any order). This is not in any Even though Jamaicans athletes have represented other countries our list is limited to those who represented Jamaica internationally. The biographies of the 16 athletes are below the list. Be sure to add your favorites to this list. During the year leading up to Jamaica’s 50th Independence on August 6, 2012, each week we’ll be compiling a list of things celebrating Jamaican foods, music, culture, people and more.
- Herb McKinley – Specialty: 200m, 400m, 4×100, 4x400m
- Arthur Wint – Specialty: 400m, 800m ,4x400m
- Donald Quarrie – Specialty: 100m, 200m ,4x100m
- Merlene Otty – Specialty: 100m, 200m, 4x100m
- Veronica Campbell-Brown – Specialty: 100m, 200m, 4x100m
- Usain Bolt – Specialty: 100m, 200m, 4x100m
- Asafa Powell – Specialty: 100m, 4x100m
- Raymond Stewart – Specialty: 100m, 4x100m
- Shellly-Ann Fraser-Pryce – Specialty: 100m, 4x100m
- Michael Frater – Specialty: 100m, 4x100m
- Bert Cameron – Specialty: 400m & 4x400m
- Marilyn Fay Neufville – Specialty: 400m & 4x400m
- Jacqueline Pusey – Specialty: 100m, 200m, 4x100m
- Davian Clarke – Specialty: 400m & 4x400m
- Keith Gardner – Specialty: 100m, 110m Hurdles
- Gillian Russell – Specialty: 100m hurdles, 4x100m
Herbert (“Herb”) Henry McKenley
Herbert (“Herb”) Henry McKenley OM (July 10, 1922 – November 26, 2007) was a Jamaican athlete, winner of a gold medal in the 4×400 m relay at the 1952 Summer Olympics.
Born in Pleasant Valley, Clarendon, Jamaica, Herb McKenley enrolled at the University of Illinois and won the NCAA championships in 220 yd (200 m) and 440 yd (400 m) in 1946 and 1947. He was also the AAU champion in 440 yd (400 m) in 1945, 1947 and 1948, and was also the head of the list of world best times in 100 m (10.3), 200 m (20.4) and 400 m (46.2) in 1947. He is the only person to have ever done this feat.
Just before the 1948 London Olympics, McKenley ran the new world record in 440 yd (400 m) of 46.0, a record he broke again a month later, clocking 45.9. But at the Olympics itself, McKenley finished only second in 400 m, behind teammate Arthur Wint and was fourth in 200 m. He probably lost a gold medal in the 4×400 m relay when Wint pulled his muscle in the final. He is the only person to have made the final in all three sprinting events, the 100 metres, 200 metres and 400 metres in the same Olympics. (Source: Wikipedia)
Arthur Stanley Wint (May 25, 1920 – October 19, 1992) was the first Jamaican Olympic gold medalist, winning the 400 m at 1948 Summer Olympics.
Arthur Wint, known as the Gentle Giant, was born in Plowden, Manchester, Jamaica. While at Calabar High School, he ran the sprints and did both the high jump and long jump. He later later transferred to Excelsior High School and finished his secondary education there. In 1937 he was the Jamaica Boy Athlete of the year, the following year he won a gold medal in the 800 m at the Central American Games in Panama.
In 1942 he joined the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan and set the Canadian 400 m record while training there. He was sent to Britain for active combat during the World War II as a pilot. He left the Royal Air Force in 1947 to attend St Bartholomew’s Hospital as a medical student.
In 1948 Wint won Jamaica’s first Olympic gold for the 400 m (46.2) in London, beating his team-mate Herb McKenley. In 800 m he won silver after American Mal Whitfield. He probably missed his third medal in London Games by pulling a muscle in the 4 x 400 m relay final.
In Helsinki 1952 he was part of the historic team setting the world record while capturing the gold in 4 x 400 m relay. He also won silver in 800 m, again coming second to Mal Whitfield. (Source: Wikipedia)
Donald O’Riley Quarrie
Donald O’Riley Quarrie C.D (born 25 February 1951) is a former Jamaican athlete, one of the world’s top sprinters during the 1970s. Don Quarrie competed in five Olympic games. He has received recognition both on and off the field, a statue of him is proudly positioned at the entrance to Jamaica’s National Stadium. There is also a school (Donald Quarrie High School) that bears his name in Eastern Kingston. Musical artists have also sung the praises for Don. There are a number of reggae tunes titled “Tribute to Donald Quarrie”, one by Joe Gibbs and The Guerillas and one by Bongo Herman. Many Jamaicans still refer to him in casual conversation, comparing his speed to that of everyday activities (as in, “not even Don Quarrie could catch me I was so fast”).(Source: Wikipedia)
Merlene Ottey is undisputedly known as the “Queen of the Track”. Her nearly eighteen-year long reign began at the Moscow Olympics. From this beginning, she is the only female track athlete who has dominated the athletics world competing in five Olympic Games. Also she is the only track athlete to have achieved four medals in the same game. Ottey is the first female Caribbean athlete to win an Olympic medal, the first from the western Hemisphere (outside the USA) to win two individual medals at the same game. Regardless of male or female and outside of the USA, she has won more Olympic medals than any other athlete from the Western Hemisphere. Ottey is also one of two athletes to win twenty medals at the Olympic Games and the World Championships. In five World Championships, Ottey has so far won thirteen medals: three gold, four silver and six bronze medals, while at the Olympics she has earned two silver and five bronze medals. (Source: Galanis Sports Data)
Veronica Campbell-Brown C.D (born 15 May 1982) is a track and field sprint athlete, competing internationally for Jamaica. A five-time Olympic medallist, she is the reigning World and Olympic 200 metres champion. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, she ran the 200 m in 21.74 seconds (the fastest time in a decade) and became the second woman in history to win two consecutive Olympic 200 m events, after Bärbel Wöckel of Germany did so at the 1976 and 1980 Olympics. Veronica Campbell-Brown is ranked the second fastest Jamaica woman over 60 meters, fourth fastest over 100 meters and third fastest over 200 meters. (Source: Wikipedia)
The Honourable Usain St. Leo Bolt, OJ, C.D. (Born 21 August 1986), is a Jamaican sprinter and a four-time World and three-time Olympic gold medalist. He is the world record and Olympic record holder in the 100 metres, the 200 metres and (along with his teammates) the 4×100 metres relay. He is the reigning Olympic champion in these three events.
Bolt distinguished himself with a 200 m gold medal at the 2002 World Junior Championships, making him the competition’s youngest-ever gold medalist. In 2004, at the CARIFTA Games, he became the first junior sprinter to run the 200 m in under 20 seconds with a time of 19.93 s, breaking the previous world junior record held by Roy Martin by two-tenths of a second. He turned professional in 2004, and although he competed at the 2004 Summer Olympics, he missed most of the next two seasons due to injuries. In 2007, he surpassed Don Quarrie’s 200 m Jamaican record with a run of 19.75 s.
His 2008 season began with his first world record performance—a 100 m world record of 9.72 s—and culminated in world and Olympic records in both the 100 m and 200 m events at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. He ran 9.69 s for the 100 m and 19.30 s in the 200 m, and also set a 4×100 m relay record of 37.10 s with the Jamaican team. This made him the first man to win three sprinting events at a single Olympics since Carl Lewis in 1984, and the first man to set world records in all three at a single Olympics. The following year he further lowered his own 100 m and 200 m world records to 9.58 s and 19.19 s respectively at the 2009 World Championships. This made him the first man to hold both the 100 and 200 m world and Olympic titles at the same time.
His 2009 record breaking margin over 100 m is the highest since the start of digital time measurements. His achievements in sprinting have earned him the media nickname “Lightning Bolt” and awards including the IAAF World Athlete of the Year, Track & Field Athlete of the Year, and Laureus Sportsman of the Year. (Source: Wikipedia)
Asafa Powell C.D (born 23 November 1982) is a Jamaican sprinter who specialises in the 100 metres. He held the 100 m world record between June 2005 and May 2008, with times of 9.77 and 9.74 seconds respectively. Powell has consistently broken the 10-second barrier in competition, with his personal best of 9.72 s being the fourth fastest time in the history of the event. As of July 2011, Powell has broken the ten-second barrier legally more times than anyone else – 80 times in total.
Powell competed in the 100 m at the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2008 Beijing Olympics but failed to convert his success to the world stage, finishing fifth both times. However, in Beijing he won a gold medal and set the world and Olympic record in the 4 × 100 metres relay with the Jamaican team. At the 2007 Osaka World Championships he won a bronze and a silver medal in the 100 m and 4 x 100 m relay respectively and he has been successful at the Commonwealth Games, winning two gold and one silver medal. At the 2009 World Championships he won 100 m bronze and a relay gold. Powell has won five times at the IAAF World Athletics Final and is the 100 m record holder for the event.
Powell also holds the record for the fastest 100 metres run to place third. In August 2009, he ran 9.84 seconds in the World Athletics Championships from Berlin, Germany. (Source: Wikipedia)
Raymond (“Ray”) Douglas Stewart (born March 18, 1965 in Kingston, Jamaica) is a former Jamaican athlete who specialised in the 100 metres event. As a junior athlete Stewart found much success at the CARIFTA Games, winning five gold medals within a four year period. In 1984 he reached the 100 m Olympic final and won an Olympic silver medal for the 4×100 metres relay. At the 1987 World Championships he took silver in the 100 m and bronze with the Jamaican relay team. A leg injury in the 1988 Olympic final of the 100 m ruined his medal chances in both the individual and relay events.
A new personal best of 9.97 seconds at the NCAA Outdoor Championships made him the number one ranked 100 m athlete in 1989 and the first Jamaican to officially break the 10-second barrier. At the competition he also recorded the third fastest relay time ever. He won his first Commonwealth Games medal the following year, taking bronze in the relay. Stewart recorded a national record of 9.96 seconds at the 1991 World Championships but this was surprisingly only enough for sixth place; two continental records and the world record were broken in the race. Stewart reached his third consecutive Olympic 100 m final in 1992, becoming the first man to do so. He reached the 1993 and 1995 World Championship finals of the 100 m but failed to medal. He attended his last Olympics in 1996.
Stewart had a career that lasted almost twenty years, competing at four successive Olympic Games and six World Championships. He also won the 100 m at the Jamaican national championships seven times. His 100 m personal best of 9.96 seconds makes him the fifth fastest Jamaican sprinter in the event, after Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Nesta Carter and Yohan Blake. He went on to coach a number of prominent sprinters, including Jerome Young. (Source: Wikipedia)
Shellly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, OD (born December 27, 1986) is a Jamaican sprinter, who specializes in the 100 m. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Fraser is the reigning Olympic champion and World champion over 100 metres, clocking a time of 10.78 and 10.73 respectively. She is only the second female sprinter to hold both World and Olympic 100m titles simultaneously (after Gail Devers), and is tied with Christine Arron as the fourth fastest woman in history over 100 metres. She attended the Wolmer’s High School for Girls and represented her school in many athletic occasions. (Source: Wikipedia)
Michael Frater O.D (born October 6, 1982 in Manchester, Jamaica) is a sprinter who specialises in the 100 metres event. He won a silver medal at the 2005 World Championships and a gold medal at the 2003 Pan American Games for the event. He has also been successful as part of the Jamaican 4 × 100 metres relay team, setting the world record and Olympic record at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He also won gold in the relay at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and took silver in the 2002 edition. (Source: Wikipedia)
Bertland (“Bert”) Cameron (born 16 November 1959) is a retired Jamaican sprinter who mainly competed over 400 metres. He represented Jamaica at three consecutive editions of the Summer Olympics. Cameron won the 400 m title at the first World Championships in Athletics. He was also the 1978 Commonwealth Games champion in the event and won a number of gold medals at regional competitions. He helped the Jamaican runners to a silver medal in the 4×400 metres relay at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
He carried the Jamaican flag at the opening ceremony of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California. He was chosen as the Jamaica Sportsperson of the year three times consecutively form 1981 to 1983. He is currently a coach in Jamaica.
Marilyn Fay Neufville
Marilyn Fay Neufville (born November 16, 1952) is a former Jamaican athlete who had success in the sprints between 1967 to 1971. Neufville broke the world record in the 400 m and won four gold medals and one bronze in various regional championships. (Source: Wikipedia).
Jacqueline Pusey, born 14 August 1959 in St Mary, Jamaica is a retired sprinter who specialized in the 100 & 200 metres. She represented Jamaica at the 1976 Montreal (Canada) Olympics and the 1980 Moskva (Russia) Olympics. She won a bronze medal in the Women’s 4×100 metres relay at the first World Championships held in 1983 in Helsinki (Finland).
Davian Clarke (born April 30, 1976) is a Jamaican athlete, who mainly competes in the 400 metres. He won the bronze medal in the 4 x 400 metres relay at the 1996 Olympics, and many relay medals followed, before he won his first individual medal at the 2004 IAAF World Indoor Championships. (Source: Wikipedia)
Keith Alvin Saint Hope Gardner (born 6 September 1929) was a Jamaican athlete who competed in the 110 metre hurdles, 100 metres, 200 metres and 400 metres. He competed for the British West Indies in the 1960 Summer Olympics held in Rome, Italy in the 4 x 400 metre relay where he won the bronze medal with his team mates Malcolm Spence, James Wedderburn and George Kerr. (Source: Wikipedia)
Gillian Russell (born 28 September 1973 in St. Andrews) is a Jamaican athlete who specializes in the 100 metres hurdles. In her early career she won four gold medals at the World Junior Championships, which is a record. (Source: Wikipedia)