'I was a proud Jamaican, the world knew' - How Jamaica was represented atop men's 100m podium three straight Olympics, before Bolt Featured

By Sports Desk July 20, 2021 29788














When sprint king Usain Bolt crossed the line in dramatic fashion to clinch the Olympic 100m title in 2008 he became the first Jamaican to claim the title, yes, but not exactly, if you ask another Olympic champion, Donovan Bailey.

Bolt was, in fact, the first athlete competing for Jamaica to win the men’s 100m title for the country when he crossed the line, in Beijing, in utterly dominant fashion, and with the world record to boot.  He was, however, not the first Jamaican to stand atop the Olympic medal podium and for some, it’s an important distinction.  In terms of Jamaican-born sprinters, he was the fourth behind Ben Johnson, Lindford Christie, and Bailey himself.

‘Although I was traveling the world and living in Canada and Europe and the States my place of refuge was always to come back home to my mother’s home cooking.  So, every Christmas I was back home with mum taking care of me, so to me, I was always Jamaican,” Bailey told SportsMax.tv.

“I wasn’t cognisant of the Canada, Jamaica stuff I just knew I was a proud Jamaican, the whole world knew that.  Yes, I lived in Canada, and I was also a proud Canadian but when I landed, I always knew how passionate my culture was, they’ll cuss you and then they give you a hug,” he added.

When it comes to athletes with Jamaica roots being at the top of the Olympic podium, Johnson, another Canadian, has that honour, so to speak.

Johnson, who was born in Falmouth, Trelawny, won the title in a world record time at the 1988 Seoul Games.  The success was, however, short-lived for Johnson as the title and time were stripped after the athlete tested positive for the banned substance stanozolol.

At the following Olympic Games, it was the turn of Christie who did so in the colours of Great Britain, in 1992, in Barcelona.  Christie was raised by his grandmother in the Jamaican parish of St Andrew before moving to England to join his parents in 1968.  

After that, it was Bailey who took center stage at the following Olympics and for the third straight Games, an athlete of Jamaica descent was destined to cross the line first in the blue ribband event.  Despite getting away slowly in the final he turned on the boosters to overhaul the field late and set a new world record of 9.84. Twelve years later it was Bolt, this time a man draped in the flag of Jamaica, who would repeat the feat in almost identical fashion, mind you, going just a bit faster.

For Bailey, the former Olympic champion, the significance of all those moments and the connection of the men to the tiny Caribbean island in the sea has also stuck with him.

“When it comes to how I look at it, I was cognisant of being my own authentic self.  I also understood that Linford was a next yardman who was quite dominant before I was,” Bailey added.

“So, essentially, when Bolt broke my Olympic record in 2008, I said ‘yes man’ that’s how it’s supposed to go that’s exactly how it’s supposed to happen.”

Bolt went to win the 100m at the next two Olympic Games, becoming the first sprinter in history to win three 100m sprint gold medals.  He still holds the world record in both the 100m and 200m.  Bolt retired from the sport in 2017.  

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Last modified on Thursday, 22 July 2021 15:22
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