Monday, January 24, 2011


Map of Jamaica

Arthur Wint and Herb Mckenely, 1948 Olympics

Jamaica has the prestigious honor of having the most success per capita of any country world in track and field. This great honor started when Jamaica's first track Gold Medallists Dr Authur Wint won the 400m in 1948 Olympics. He along other greats Herb McKenley, Leslie Laing, and George Rhoden put Jamaica on the map in one of the greatest relays when the team won the 4 x 400 relay in the 1952 Olympics.
(Track & Field, Published Mar 21, 2004 at

Merlene Ottey, 1983
Running for Nebraska University
Photo from fanclub member Dave at

The darling of Jamaica
Marlene Ottey

Jamaica's success at the Olympics and international competitions continued throughout years with athletes like Donald Quarrie (gold 200m, silver 100m, in the 1976 Olympics), Bert Cameron (silver, 400 relay, 1988), to Grace Jackson (silver, 200m, 1988), to Winthrop Graham (silver, 400m hurdles, 1992), Raymond Stewart, Juliet Cuthbert (silver, 100, 200m, 1992), Deon Hemmings (gold, 400 hurdles, 1996) and perhaps the most popular athlete track Queen Merlene Ottey who has more International and Olympics medal than any other Jamaicans.
(Track & Field, Published Mar 21, 2004 at
According to the Jamaica's sports minister Olivia Grange, Jamaica gets a jump on its rivals right from the start.
"I always talk about the triple T - tradition, talent and training," she says.
"We have an extremely good school system. In our primary schools, physical education is mandatory, and we actually start competing from early childhood. We have our prep school championships, primary school championships, our secondary school championships."
Even before that, the gene pool in Jamaica is predisposed to producing powerful, explosive athletes.
(Tom Fordyce, BBC Sport journalist at

Sheri Ann Brooks

Team Jamaica

In Jamaica there is only one event that grips the nation like the Olympic Games or World Championships – the national Boys and Girls Athletics Championships. To the rest of the world "Champs" may sound like a glorified school sports day, but to Jamaicans it is the highlight of the year, with crowds of 30,000 people gathering from across the island to watch over 100 schools battle it out for title of "King" or "Queen".
It is an event with 100 years of history – older even than our own national schools championships by 15 years – but it is only since the advent of Usain Bolt and his achievements in Beijing that the rest of the world has begun to sit up and take notice.
Everyone from hotel porters to fruit sellers in and around Kingston discuss which teenage stars to look out for. Bars and restaurants set up TV screens to watch the proceedings as the event is broadcast live from the National Stadium, with network channel CVMTV estimating around 1.2m viewers – from a population of 2.8m. Detailed reports dominate the front pages of the island's newspapers, with huge color photographs hailing the nation's freshest crop of track and field stars.
(Champs of the world, by Anna Kessel, The Observer, Sunday 5 April 2009 at

Shelly Ann Fraser

Usain Bolt
100m victory at Beijing Olympics 2008
(Triple Olympic Champion and World Record Holder)
Author Richard Giles

It is surreal, listening to people on the street debate the merits of 15-year-old sprinters. Everyone has an opinion on who will be the next Bolt or Shelly Ann Fraser. In the national stadium, supporters of each high school demonstrate their loyalties, screaming for their favorites. Dressed in team colors – the supporters in the purple and white of Kingston College taking up a whole stand to them – they bang drums and enjoy soup and roast corn, or jerk chicken wrapped in tin foil. As darkness falls, groups of school kids making their way home take up sticks; there are often violent clashes on the streets outside the stadium. This is no token support, loyalty to high schools goes back generations through a family.
(Champs of the world, by Anna Kessel, The Observer, Sunday 5 April 2009 at

Jamaican Track & field stars from Trelawny
By dejagib at

Jamaican Track & field stars from Trelawny (above) features from left :
Omar Brown (Commonwealth 200m Champion)
Veronica Campbell (World Champion 100m. Olympic Champion 200m)
Michael Frater (World Championship silver medal 4x100m)
Usain Bolt (World 100m Record holder, World Junior Record holder 200m; World Championship Silver 200m; World championship silver 4x100m relay)
Marvin Anderson (World Championship 4x100m silver; World Championship 5th place 200m.

Every Jamaican athlete worth their salt began at 'Champs' – from Don Quarrie to Bolt himself – and each year the alumni return to watch the next generation. All of them credit the competition as the defining experience in their journey to success. There was even a story going around the island that Asafa Powell lacked mental toughness in competition because he did not compete enough at 'Champs' as a kid.
Established in 1910, 'Champs' are the bedrock of Jamaica's commitment to athletics success. The country eats, sleeps and breathes the sport, with even primary school children competing at the national stadium in the 'Preps'. Over 3,500 kids now compete annually at 'Champs', but the country's athletics infrastructure goes beyond annual events. Former Prime Minister Michael Manley – close friends with Fidel Castro – established a legacy when, receiving a grant from Cuba, he set up the GC Foster College in 1978, a higher education institution whose sole aim was to produce sports coaches for Jamaica.
That investment has reaped rewards. "We now have an athletics coach in every school, college and kindergarten in the country," explains Neville McCook, Council member of the IAAF and Secretary General of the Jamaica Olympic Association.
"It costs $22m Jamaican (£174,000) to put on 'Champs' each year," says McCook, "which is paid for by our main sponsor, but we also have other sponsors and we get royalties from the broadcasts. That money also assists the colleges in preparing for 'Champs' – which they do from June until March – the old boys association also pay a lot." Like every other alumni on the island and abroad, McCook is expected to dig into his own pocket to help fund future stars. McCook typically sponsors five athletes a year to help pay for, among other costs, medical bills and dental care. "One chapter in New York donated about $20,000 (£13,500), and three years ago our chapter in Miami put up a large sum to put up a new schools canteen."
Jamaicans say it is no surprise that their small island won an unprecedented 11 Olympic medals on the track IN 2008. While some prominent voices in the media questioned such prolific success, Jamaicans pointed to their investment – and results – at all age groups in recent years. While the rest of the world are fixated on the achievements of Bolt and his three gold medals and three world records in Beijing, Jamaica is already looking ahead to a "second tier" of sprinters. Their excitement is justified.
(Champs of the world, by Anna Kessel, The Observer, Sunday 5 April 2009 at
Many Jamaican-born athletes have chosen to compete for other nations. Linford Christie was born in Saint Andrew, Jamaica. He immigrated to Britain at the age of seven and competed for them. He won three European Championship golds, three Commonwealth golds, one World gold and an Olympic Gold medal in the 100m. Tessa Sanderson was born in Saint Catherine, Jamaica. She immigrated to Britain and she won two Commonwealth golds and an Olympic Gold for her adopted nation. Former world record holder Donovan Bailey was born in Manchester, Jamaica but immigrated to Canada at the age of 13. He went on to win 3 World Championship golds and 2 Olympic Golds for Canada. Sanya Richards was born in Kingston, Jamaica. she moved to America at twelve years old. Despite being the daughter of a Jamaican football player Sanya chose to compete for the United States. In 2005 she won a silver medal at the World Championships and in 2008 won Olympic bronze. However in 2009 she finally fulfilled her potential by becoming world champion in the 400m. Canadian Ben Johnson was born in Falmouth, Jamaica and immigrated to Canada at the age of 15. He won two Olympic bronzes. Angella Taylor was born in Jamaica but competed for Canada. She won two Commonwealth golds. It was later discovered that she was part of a doping regime with Ben Johnson. Sprinter Charmaine Crooks competed at four consecutive Olympics for Canada winning a silver medal in the 4x400m relay but was actually born in Mandeville, Jamaica. High jumper Germaine Mason originally competed for Jamaica as he was born in Kingston but switched to Great Britain as his father was born there. He won an Olympic silver medal in 2008.

Veronica Campbell Brown
Adidas Grand Prix

Veronica Campbell Brown
Reuters: Danny Moloshok at

Veronica Campbell Brown
200m double

Asafa Powell
AFP: Emiliano Grillotti at

Relay team Beijing Olympic
Left to right: Powell, Carter, Bolt and Frater

Bridget Foster-Hylton
Berlin Germany 2009
First Jamaican to win Gold in 110 Hurdles and oldest ever
Getty Images

Jamaica now gains top rankings in athletics consistently, especially when measured per capita. In relation to some events (eg.100 and 400m) and individual rankings, Jamaica also leads the pack! The seed is sown in the culture, they all love athletics -they love to run! That spirit is evident from even pre-school fundays,where even the little babies run races!
Jamaica dominates the Caribbean championships every year! Herb McKenley, Merlene Ottey, Donald Quarrie, and Arthur Wint are among some of the famous older names in Jamaica's athletics. But nowadays, you will hear of Sherone Simpson, Veronica Campbell, James Beckford, Asafa Powell and Usain Bolt, for example, are some of the dominant names in their disciplines- anywhere in the world.
The Jamaican people walked more than 20 miles weekly up and down the steep terrain of the countryside. This was their only means of getting to school, church, running errands and enjoying the pursuits of leisure. These activities provided an invaluable but unconscious physical preparation for athletics. This unconscious preparation was carried to another level by the coordination and rhythm acquired from hours spent performing African-derived popular dances.
The Jamaican capacity for sprinting was also attributed to genetic factors. It was in their African forebears that generous portions of the fast-twitch muscle fibers found in the elite sprinter were genetically developed.
(Arnold Bertram, Contributor, Friday, February 19, 2010 at

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