Sun | Dec 5, 2021

WE RUN RIO - Jamaica equals Olympics record gold medal haul

Published:Saturday | August 20, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Omar McLeod
Omar McLeod
Shericka Jackson
Shericka Jackson celebrates with the Jamaican flag after placing third in the women's 400 metres.
Christania Williams
Kimberly Williams
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (centre) is off after collecting the baton from Veronica Campbell-Brown during the women’s 4x100 metres heats.
Christania Williams
Members of the Jamaican quartet which copped gold in the 4x100 metres at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics last Friday night. From left: Yohan Blake, Usain Bolt, Nickel Ashmeade and Asafa Powell.
From left: Jamaica’'s Veronica Campbell-Brown, Christania Williams, Elaine Thompson, and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce celebrate winning the silver medal in the women’s 4x100-metre relay final in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Jamaica's Elaine Thompson displays her gold medal for the 200-meter during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Thursday.
The Jamaica team from left, McLaughlin-Whilby, Novlene Williams-Mills, Shericka Jackson and Stephenie McPherson celebrate winning the silver medal in the women's 4x400-meter relay.
Jamaica's Peter Matthews, Nathon Allen, Fitzroy Dunkley and Javon Francis celebrate winning the silver medal in the men's 4 x 400-meter relay.

There were no podium-topping heroics last night, but Jamaica's Rio 2016 Olympic campaign will go down as one of the country's most impressive after a record-equalling six gold medals were secured.

The gold medal haul matches the bounty from the Beijing 2008 Games, with the Jamaicans ending the 2016 Games with 11 medals (6 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze), making them the second-best team on the athletics medal table behind the USA on 31 at the end of last night's session inside the Olympic stadium.

Javon Francis ran a composed anchor leg to bring home the Jamaicans in 2:58.16 for the silver, with the USA winning in 2:57.30, and The Bahamas, 2:58.49, in third.

"Lots of persons discouraged me and said that the team could not medal, so I came out here to shock the world. I did it already and I can do it again," Francis said in a post-race interview.

The team was completed by Fitzroy Dunkley, Nathon Allen and Peter Matthews, with the quartet leading Jamaica to its first Olympic 4x400m medal at the Olympics since Sydney 2000 and their fourth overall.

The female team of Stephenie-Ann McPherson, Anneisha McLaughlin, Shericka Jackson and Novlene Williams-Mills was second in 3:20.34 to finish behind the USA, 3:19.06, with Great Britain and Northern Ireland, 3:25.88, winning bronze.

"I really wanted the gold, but I guess it wasn't for Jamaica this time around. We worked hard and I think our best was good enough," Jackson told reporters.

It was Jamaica's fifth straight medal in the women's 4x400m at the Olympic Games and an upgrade from their London 2012 bronze.

The golden saltier in the Jamaican flag may have been meant to celebrate the Scottish ancestry of much of the country's population when the standard was adopted in 1962, but in Rio de Janeiro, it represented one thing - Jamaica's record-equalling gold medal tally at an Olympic Games.


Questions about form


With some of the island's biggest names in track and field faced with questions about their form and injury situations coming into the Olympics, there was some degree of scepticism about what could be accomplished here.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce's toe injury, Veronica Campbell-Brown's flat form all year, problems with medal contender Janieve Russell, who had suffered injury just before the National Senior Championships after a dominant campaign on the season - in the end, it turned out to be one of the island's most impressive performances on the Olympic stage

Little surprise that the island's chief gold miner was again Usain Bolt.

In truth, it was always going to be Bolt's Olympics. Quite accustomed to running himself into the history book, the Jamaican sprint star ticked another box in the Brazilian city, repeating his 100m, 200m and 4x100m gold-medal victories from the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games, to secure his ninth Olympic gold medal and become the first man to accomplish his triple gold medal hat-trick in Olympic athletics.

"It's a big relief. It's like a burden off my shoulders, but I am going to miss the competition. It's what I live for. It's what I love to do," Bolt said smilingly after last Friday evening's win by the Jamaicans in the 4x100m relay.

Bolt's wins represents so much more than times and medals; not just for himself as he replaced pencil with hammer and chisel, etching his name as the greatest track and field athlete in history, but his three medals also lift a sport that has endured a tumultuous build-up to the Olympic Games, with gender, corruption and doping issues dominating headlines.

They have another matter that they will have to face soon - Bolt's long goodbye from the sport that has over and over again needed its poster boy to raise its image.

He'll never compete in the Olympics again and with next year's World Championships in London being his final lap, Jamaica and the sport will need another golden boy.

The island certainly found its new golden girl in Elaine Thompson, who became the first woman since American Florence Griffith Joyner (1988) to win the sprint double at an Olympic Games. Thompson cemented her place in the corridors of Olympic sprinting greats after her 10.71 and 21.78 seconds wins in the events.


Third straight gold for Ja


Her 10.71 was the fastest time ever recorded in the women's 100m finals, with Flo-Jo's 10.54 coming in illegal wind and also secured a third straight Olympic gold medal in the event for Jamaica after Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce's wins in Beijing 2008 and London 2012.

Fraser-Pryce, bothered by a toe injury, managed a third-place finish in the 100m in a time of 10.86 to again prove her championships mettle.

Thompson has sprint hurdler Omar McLeod as company, as Jamaica's newest Olympic gold medal winners.

McLeod has been so dominant in the 110m hurdles all season that his 13.05 seconds win was all but expected even in wet, challenging conditions.

The former Manchester High and Kingston College student became the first Jamaican to win gold in the event at the Olympic Games and only the second to medal in history following Hansle Parchment's bronze medal in 2012.

Jamaica's fifth gold medal came when the team of Asafa Powell, Yohan Blake, Nickel Ashmeade and Bolt, on anchor, carried the stick across the line in 37.27 for a third straight Olympic gold medal in the event and the country's seventh straight at a major championship.

The women were not able to repeat their Athens 2004 gold-medal run, finishing second in their final, with Shericka Jackson's 49.85 seconds run in the 400m final adding to the tally.