Sun | Sep 24, 2017

200m a favourite for Jamaica’s women at Olympics

Published:Monday | August 15, 2016 | 8:00 AMHubert Lawrence
Jamaica's Veronica Campbell (second left) crosses the finish line ahead of Bahamas' Debbie Ferguson (left), Jamaica's Aleen Bailey (second right) and Allyson Felix of the US to win the women's 200 metres final at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games on August 25, 2004. Campbell won the gold medal in 22.05 seconds ahead of Felix and Ferguson.

The 200 metres holds pride of place among the events in which Jamaican women compete at the Olympic Games.

Thirty-six years ago, in 1980, Merlene Ottey became the first lady from the island to win an Olympic medal, and she did it with a bronze in the 200 metres.

It is the first of 11 medals Jamaica has won in the event so far.

After her super win in the 100 metres in Rio de Janeiro, Elaine Thompson looks a good bet to join Veronica Campbell-Brown (VCB) as a Jamaica gold-medal winner in the 200.

Campbell-Brown is one of just two women to win the event twice. That's a distinction she shares with Barbel Wockel of East Germany.

By the time her glorious career was over, Ottey collected four Olympic medals in the 200m, with a silver medal in 1996 and three bronze medals.

 

MEMORABLE VICTORIES

 

Thanks to Grace Jackson, Juliet Cuthbert and Ottey, Jamaica won the 200-metre silver in three consecutive Olympic Games - 1988, 1992 and 1996.

The string of success didn't stop there. Beverly McDonald took the bronze in 2000 after the retroactive suspension of American Marion Jones, who crossed the line first.

Campbell-Brown's gold-medal performances came in 2004 and 2008. Both were memorable. The first, a victory in 22.05 seconds - over the elegant Allyson Felix of the United States - was the first gold medal won by a Jamaican woman in an Olympic sprint event. The second was achieved with a blazing personal best of 21.74 seconds, again ahead of Felix. Kerron Stewart was third.

The little package of speed named Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was second to Felix four years ago at the 2012 Games.

There have been notable non-medal-winning performances as well. Kingston Technical schoolgirl Una Morris smashed the national record to 23.5 seconds to finish fourth in the 1964 Games in Tokyo.

Since then, Rosie Allwood in 1972, Aleen Bailey in 2004 and Sherone Simpson in 2008 have all sprinted with honour in the Olympic 200m final. The charming Bailey wasn't far from a medal in fourth when Veronica won her first gold.