Deon Hemmings – Saluting 60 Jamaican Women

Deon Hemmings Jamaican Athlete Olympian

“Sometimes it may feel like you cannot make it, but just keep on working hard at it.” – Deon Hemmings

Jamaica’s sprint history is full of ‘firsts’ and Deon Hemmings is no exception. She is the first Jamaican and Caribbean female to win an Olympic Gold Medal. Her race of choice? The 400-metre hurdles. The year was 1996. The venue, Atlanta, Georgia in the USA. During these Olympics, Deon broke the Olympic record to win her gold medal in 52.67 seconds, also a Jamaican record that remained unbroken for 12 years.

Deon was born in the parish of St. Ann, attended York Castle High School, later Vere Technical High School (VTHS) in Clarendon. After Vere, she attended Central Ohio State University in the USA, where she sharpened her skills in the 400-metre hurdles. She was determined to become an Olympian, so Deon worked steadily toward her goal and in her march she won many medals. These included a gold in Jamaica’s 4×100 relay team at the World Junior Championships in Canada in 1993; the silver in the 400-metre hurdles at the 1994 Commonwealth Games; the bronze at the 1995 World Athletic Championships in Germany;

Deon Hemmings

But 1996 was her year. Deon won the gold! While Jamaica’s national anthem was being played at the medals ceremony, Deon could be seen weeping from sheer joy. In 1997 she won the silver and in 1999 the bronze, at the World Athletic Championships.

After an outstanding career in track, Deon retired in 2003. In February 2012, she was honoured by her alma mater at the second Ben Francis Invitational, VTHS Athletic Meet.

Determined: To have a strong will, to be single-minded, focused on doing what you set out to do.

About the author

Gloria Royale-Davis