Oral Tracey | VCB - Greatest ever J'can female sprinter
The recent news and published images of Jamaican sprint great Veronica Campbell-Brown's (VCB) advanced state of pregnancy automatically triggered congratulatory and emotional sentiments, followed closely by speculative and reflective thoughts as to the probability of this being the end of the career of this gracious champion of the sport.
Campbell-Brown, in her Instagram post, did point out that she was unsure of what the future holds in terms of her athletics career, but at 36, approaching 37 years old, even the greatest and most durable of them all must wittingly defer to father time.
It is therefore quite in order for an inspection of VCB's body of work and a contextual application of same, to her status as one of, if not the greatest Jamaican woman to have ever graced the track. Jamaica has produced some illustrious female sprinters over the years. The foundation was set by the likes of Cynthia Thompson, Vilma Charlton, Rosie Allwood, Una Morris, and Jacqueline Pusey before the inimitable Merlene Ottey, along with Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, Grace Jackson, and others proceeded to raise the bar in terms of elite-level international performances at the Olympics and World Championships level.
VCB's brilliant sojourn happened to cut across the Ottey generation as well as the emergence of the golden generation led by Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Sherone Simpson, Kerron Stewart, and now, Elaine Thompson. Ottey, for her pioneering excellence and dominance of both the 100 and 200m events, still holds the national record at 21.64 seconds over 200m. This is in addition to her longevity and the now established fact that she competed in an era when her main rivals were hardly, if ever, competing fairly and unaided. For all this context, Merlene Ottey will always be dear to the hearts of Jamaicans and true athletics enthusiasts the world over.
FIRST JAMAICAN WOMAN
So, too, Fraser-Pryce, who was not just the first Jamaican woman to win Olympic 100m gold when she triumphed in Beijing in 2008, but she was back in 2012 to successfully defend her title in London. Shelly was also on the podium with a bronze in Rio in 2016. Add to that her three World Championship gold medals, 2009, 2013, and 2015, including the sprint double in 2013. In terms of the magnitude of her achievements, Fraser-Pryce must also be right there in the middle of any credible conversation about the greatest Jamaican women sprinters as would Elaine Thompson, the first Jamaican woman to cop the Olympic sprint double, having done so in Rio in 2016. Elaine's legacy is still pretty much under construction. Shelly and Elaine are also the joint holders of the national 100m record at 10.70 seconds.
However, all things considered, when it comes to her body of work at all levels, VCB stands alone. She is the first and only woman to become World Junior Champion, World Youth Champion and progressed to be World Senior champion. VCB has eight Olympic medals, including back-to-back 200m gold, won in Athens in 2004, and again in Beijing in 20O8. Add the 100m Olympic bronze in 2004 and bronze again in 2012. Campbell-Brown also won the World Championships 100m Gold in 2007 and was 200m Champion in 2011, all in addition to her overall seven World Championship silver medals and countless lesser-level accolades.
Achievements aside, VCB has been a brilliant and true champion at all levels of the sport for Jamaica, and her brilliance never came in blitzes. Her consistency for over two decades is what sets her apart, even from her brilliant peers. Not only is she the most decorated Jamaican female sprinter, VCB is the greatest Jamaica female sprinter ever.