Jamaica short sprint Beijing 2008 and Tokyo 2020 100m sweep
Jamaica Beijing 2008 and Tokyo 2020 100m sweep

The Olympics is the pinnacle for any athlete. The 100m (short sprint) has always been the blue ribbon event of any major championship.

I am covering the Jamaican women side of the 100m. Jamaica did not reach a woman 100m final until the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, where Merlene Ottey came third. In the 1988 Seoul Games, she made the semi-final but did not start. Jamaica didn’t medal in 1988.

At the 1992 Barcelona games, Jamaica won a silver medal courtesy of Juliet Cuthbert. The 1996 Atlanta Olympics was where the venerable Merlene Ottey won silver in the closet first and second-place finish. She clocked the same time 10.94, as Gail Devers, the United States of America (US) winner.

Sydney 2000 Olympics had Marion Jones, the most dominant athlete at the time, winning the 100m (short sprint). With the confession and return of medals by Marion Jones, Jamaica moved up to the second and third place. Interestingly, because of what took place before the 2004 Athens Olympics (suspicion of avoiding drug test), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) refused to turn over the gold medal to Ekaterini Thanou of Greece, who came second behind Marion Jones.

The 2004 Athens Olympics had one of the world and Jamaica all-time great sprinters, Veronica Campbell-Brown (VCB), coming third.
The Beijing Olympics of 2008 was the coming out of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, arguably the greatest female 100m runner of all time (as of now, some would say). Shelly-Ann with Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart made a sweep of the medals for Jamaica, with the latter two tying for second in the short sprint.

Shelly-Ann did a 100m champion repeat at the London Olympics of 2012, with VCB coming third. The year 2016 was Elaine Thompson-Herah 100m coming out party. Elaine won the 100m with Shelly-Ann nursing a toe injury coming third. Tokyo 2020 (2021) Olympics had Elaine performance put her in the discussion of greatest 100m runner of all time. Her winning time of 10.61 was astounding, magnificent, one could use whatever adjective, and any one of them would apply.

For ten Olympics (from 1984 through 2020 (2021)), Jamaica has won 16 of the possible 30 medals. Since 1992 and after, Jamaica won at least one female 100m medal in every single Olympics. The year 2008 was when Jamaica won its first female 100m gold and continues to win every Olympics. From 2008 to 2020, Jamaica came away with a whopping ten (10) medals out of a possible 12. They are four gold, three silver and three bronze.

I believe Merlene Ottey started that sprint tradition with her bronze medal in 1984. She made believers in the minds of those that followed her. With consistent quality middle to long-distance athletes, Ethiopia and Kenya have developed a tradition that continues to date. Jamaica females seem to have developed that great tradition in the short sprint.

The US was the dominant sprinting country for years, and they won’t sit back and accept playing second fiddle to Jamaica. This bodes well for the future competitiveness of the female 100m. Currently, the women short sprint is outshining their male counterparts. This is something we have not seen for a long time, if ever.

With the women standard climbing, their dominance may last for a while. The future is yet to unfold, but if things continue as they are, the Jamaican fans may be in for an entertaining ride.

*** The views expressed in this article are those of the author (Robert Taylor) and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, trackalerts.com.


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