On this day in Jamaican history: Jamaican-Canadian sprinter Donovan Bailey was born - Jamaicans.com
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On this day in Jamaican history: Jamaican-Canadian sprinter Donovan Bailey was born

Jamaican-Canadian sprinter Donovan Bailey

On December 18, 1967, Jamaican-Canadian sprinter and Olympian Donovan Baily was born in Manchester, Jamaica. Bailey was once the world record holder for the 100 meters. He clocked 9.84 seconds for the distance to win a gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games and was the first Canadian to break the 10-second barrier in the event. Bailey was known for his speed, running at 27.07 miles per hour in the 1996 Olympics, or 12.10 meters per second. This was the greatest speed recorded by a human being at the time.

While he was born in Manchester, Jamaica, he immigrated to Canada at the age of 13. He graduated from Queen Elizabeth Park High School in Oakville, Ontario. In 1991, he began competing in 100-meter events as a sprinter part-time but did not take the sport seriously until 1994.

During the 1993-1994 season, Bailey competed for Fenerbahçe Athletics. He won both the 100-meter sprint and the 4×100-meter relay titles at the World Track and Field Championships in Sweden in 1995. Before competing in the 1996 Olympics, Bailey broke the indoor 50-meter world record in a Reno, Nevada, event with a time of 5.56 seconds. While Maurice Greene matched his time in 1999, the run was not ratified as a world record.

Bailey went on to set a world record in the100-meters at the 1996 Olympics, and Canadians believed that his win restored the reputation of Canadian athletes, which had suffered when Ben Johnson had been disqualified at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Korea.

Bailey was only the second athlete in the world to hold major titles in the 100-meter event concurrently. The titles included the World Champion, Olympic Champion & World Record Holder; Carl Lewis had been the first individual to achieve this feat.

Bailey experienced a rupture of his Achilles tendon after the 1997 season, which effectively ended his running career. He attempted to participate in the 2000 Summer Olympics, but suffered a bout of pneumonia and dropped out of the competition. He retired from the sport in 2001 after having been a three-time World champion and a two-time Olympic champion. Donovan Bailey was inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.

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