The word is that the Jamaican women are the ones to watch at the sprints at the Olympics. Several of these athletes are the fastest runners in the world, so the world expects big things from the competitions. The women of Jamaica have been notable performers in every Olympic season, making their mark in sports history. Below is a list of the best-known female Jamaican Olympians.
Merlene Ottey, Hanover
Ottey was the first Jamaican and first Caribbean woman to win an Olympic medal. She is the only track-and-field athlete to compete in seven different Olympic Games: Moscow in 1980, Los Angeles in 1984, Seoul in 1988, Barcelona in 1992, Atlanta in 1996, Sydney in 2000, and Athens in 2004 (when she competed for Slovenia). She won a total of nine medals: three bronze medals in the 200-meters, two bronze in the 100-meters, one bronze in the 4×100-meter relay, and silver medals in the 100-meters, 200-meters, and 4×100-meter relay. Ottey was named the Jamaican Sportsperson of the Year 13 times. She first won the title in 1979 and last won it in 1995. No individual has won it more times than Ottey.
Veronica Campbell Brown, Trelawny
Affectionately known as VCB, at age 18 the seven-time Olympic medalist was the youngest Jamaican woman to win a medal at the Games. She was the second woman in history to win two Olympic 200-meter events in a row and is one of just nine athletes to win World Championships at the youth, junior, and senior levels of an athletic competition.
Deon Hemmings, St. Ann
In 1996, Hemmings became the first female athlete from Jamaica to win a gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles, breaking the record with a time of 52.64 seconds. This record stood until 2004. Hemmings was also the first woman in history from the English-speaking Caribbean to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games.
Elaine Thompson-Herah, Manchester
Thompson won a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio in the 100-meter event, clocking 10.71 seconds. Also in Rio, she achieved a rare sprint double by winning both the 100-meter and 200-meter events. She is the fifth-fastest woman of all time in the 200-meters and fourth fastest in the 100-meters.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Kingston
At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Fraser-Pryce became the first Jamaican woman to win a gold medal in the 100-meter event. She won a consecutive gold medal in the event in 2012 at the London Games. Her double win made her the first woman to repeat victories over that distance since 1996. Fraser-Pryce in the first woman to hold IAAF world titles in the 60-meters, 100-meters, 200-meters, and 4×100-meter relay, and she is the only woman to hold all these titles simultaneously. She is the fourth fastest sprinter over 100 meters in history, clocking a personal best of 10.70 seconds.
Melaine Walker O.D, Kingston
Melaine Walker represented Jamaica at the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008 in the 400 metres hurdles and won the gold medal. She ran an Olympic record of 52.64s to win gold in the Women’s 400m hurdles at the Beijing Games
Sandra Farmer-Patrick, Kingston
Sandra Marie Farmer-Patrick competed mainly in the 400-meter hurdles, winning a silver medal at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Her personal best time of 52.79, which she set in 1993, is a former US record. Beginning in 1982, she represented Jamaica in global competitions. She finished eighth in the 400-meter hurdles at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, the first time the event was included at the Olympics. She was ranked among the world’s top ten 400-meter hurdles for the first time in 1987. In 1989, she was unbeaten in the 400-meter hurdles and was the fastest woman in the world in that event. She competed for the US at the 1992 Olympics, winning a silver medal. She qualified for her third and final Olympic Games in 1996, but was eliminated in the semifinals. She was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2019.
Kerron Stewart, Kingston
Kerron Stewart specializes in the 100-meters and 200-meters. She was the 2008 Jamaican national champion in the 100-meters with a time of 10.80 seconds and won a silver medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics, tying with Sherone Simpson in a time of 10.98 seconds. She won a bronze medal in the 200-meters at the 2008 Olympics, clocking 22.00 seconds.
Sherone Simpson, Manchester
Sherone Simpson won a gold medal in the 4×100-meter relay at the 2004 Olympics and a silver medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics, tying for second place with Kerron Stewart in a photo finish. Simpson’s personal best time in the 100-meters is 10.82 seconds, placing her sixth fastest Jamaica woman in the ranking. Her personal best of 22.00 seconds in the 200-meters ranks her seventh among Jamaica women. She won a gold medal in the 200-meters at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, defeating Olympic champion Veronica Campbell Brown. In 2008, she competed in the 100-meter event at the Summer Olympics, winning a spot in the finals.
Beverly McDonald, St. Mary
Beverly McDonald won a silver medal in the 4×100-meter relay at the 2000 Olympics and the gold medal in the same event at the 2004 Olympics. She also won a bronze medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics in the 200-meter race.
Rosemarie Whyte, Trelawny
Rosemarie Whyte was the 2008 Jamaican national 400-meter champion. She represented Jamaica at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. She took home a bronze medal as a member of the victorious Jamaican 4×400-meter teams at the Olympics in both 2008 and 2012.
Grace Jackson, St. Ann
Grace Jackson-Small won an Olympic silver medal in the 200-meter event at the 1988 Games in Seoul. She set Jamaican records in both the 200-meters and 400-meters and was named Jamaican Sportswoman of the Year in 1986 and 1988. She reached the finals of the 100-meter and 200-meter events at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and had a fifth-place finish in both. Jackson ended her international career with a sixth-place finish in the 200-meter final at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
Debbie-Ann Parris-Thymes, Trelawny
Debbie-Ann Parris-Thymes finished fourth in the 400-meters at the 1996 Summer Olympics. She also won medals in relay.
Michelle Freeman, St. Catherine
Freeman was awarded the Austin Sealy Trophy for the most outstanding athlete at the 1988 CARIFTA Games. She represented Jamaica at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia in the 100-meter hurdles. She was named a Southeastern Conference champion while at the University of Florida in Gainesville seven times and was a member of the school’s NCAA championship 4×400-meter relay team. She earned eight All-American honors and retains the university’s records in the 55-meter hurdles, 55-meter and 100-meter dashes, and the 100-meter hurdles. At the 1996 Summer Olympics, she won a bronze medal in the women’s 4×100-meter relay. She was part of the Jamaican Olympic team in 1992 and 2000.
Tayna Lawrence, St. Catherine
Tayna Lawrence won an Olympic gold medal in the 4×100-meter relay. Her personal best time in the 100-meters is 10.93 seconds, and in the 200-meters her best time is 22.84 seconds.
Sandie Richards, Clarendon
Alexandra “Sandie” Richards won a bronze medal in the 4×400-meter relay at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. She had her Olympic debut in 1987, a year after she won bronze at the World Student Games. She was a member of Jamaica’s 4×400-meter winning relay team at the 2001 World Championships. The team earned Jamaica’s first gold medal in the event in the 18-year history of the Championships.
Nadia Davy, New Jersey (Competed for Jamaica)
Nadia Davy won a bronze medal in the 4×400-meter relay at the 2004 Olympic Games. She grew up in New Jersey but competed for Jamaica. She set the 400-meter record at Bridgeton High School in New Jersey with a time of 54.04 seconds and earned six state high school titles. She won seven All American titles at Louisiana State University and hold that school’s record in the women’s 400-meters with a time of 50.66 seconds. She qualified for Jamaica’s Olympic team when she won the 400-meter event at the JAAA/Supreme Ventures National Senior Championships in Kingston. She competed in two events at the Athens Olympics, winning a bronze in the relay.
Lacena Golding-Clarke, Clarendon
Lacena Golding-Clarke represented Jamaica at the Summer Olympics in 1996, 2000 and 2004 in the women’s hurdles and participated in the World Championships five times. She began her Olympic career as a long jumper, competing at the 1996 and 2000 Games. She won gold in the 100-meter hurdles at the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
Photo Source: Deposit Photos
Updated on 8/13/2021 to include Melaine Walker