Ottey impressed by Jamaica's athletic diversity

Smikle with Ottey, Shadae Lawrence and Fedrick Dacres

Track and field icon Merlene Ottey has been impressed by how Jamaica’s athletes have been spreading their athletic talents across the various disciplines in the sport.

Ottey, now a citizen of Slovenia, has visited her compatriots at the team hotel in London as the athletes compete in what has been a challenging IAAF World Championships. So far, the island known as the sprint factory, has one gold medal, from Omar McLeod who won the 110-metres hurdles and two bronze medals from Usain Bolt and Ristanana Tracey.

During her visits, Ottey has been offering words of encouragement and has expressed that she likes that there are six Jamaican throwers, a steeplechaser, as well as 12 hurdlers representing the country at the championships. Among the athletes who have been inspired by the iconic, now retired sprinter was discus thrower Traves Smikle.

“It was a very good experience talking to one of the greatest sprint legends of all time,” Smikle said of the encounter with the Jamaican legend who has won 14 world championship medals including gold medals in 1993 and 1995.

“Just being in her presence was a great honour. She gave us advice about working hard and she specifically said she liked how Jamaica had diversified in the field events and she is liking what she is seeing. She is a very humble individual,” Smikle revealed.

Ottey also posed for pictures with other athletes including sprint hurdler Megan Simmonds.  “Definitely the highlight of my world champs,” the diminutive hurdler Megan Simmonds posted on her Instagram page beneath a picture of her and Ottey.

The retiring legend Usain Bolt also posted a picture of himself posing with Ottey. The photograph has been shared more than a thousand times.

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Merlene Ottey: Traves Smikle: IAAF World Championships