Merlene Ottey is a Jamaican-Slovenian former track and field sprinter. She began her career representing Jamaica, before representing Slovenia from 2002 to 2012.
Ottey began competing in track and field at a young age, representing Jamaica in her first international competition at the 1979 Pan American Games. Throughout the 1980s, she established herself as one of the top sprinters in the world, winning multiple medals at the Commonwealth Games and the World Championships.
In the 1990s, Ottey continued to dominate on the international stage, winning multiple medals at the World Championships and the Olympic Games. She won a total of three Olympic medals, including a bronze in the 100m at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and a silver in the 200m at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
In addition to her Olympic success, Ottey also set multiple world records throughout her career. She set the indoor world record for the 200m in 1993 and held the outdoor world record in the 4x100m relay from 1988 to 2002.
Despite her success on the track, Ottey faced some controversy throughout her career. In 1999, she tested positive for nandrolone and was suspended for two years. However, she maintained her innocence and the suspension was later reduced to six months.
After the suspension, Ottey returned to competition and continued to compete at a high level. She represented Slovenia in international competitions from 2002 to 2012, winning multiple medals at the European Championships.
At the age of 46, Ottey retired from competitive athletics in 2008. She continues to be involved in the sport as a coach and ambassador.
In total, Ottey won 14 Olympic and World Championship medals. She is considered one of the greatest female sprinters of all time and has been inducted into multiple halls of fame, including the International Association of Athletics Federations Hall of Fame, the Jamaica Sports Hall of Fame, and the Slovenian Athletes Hall of Fame.
Beyond her athletic achievements, Ottey is also recognized for her philanthropic efforts. She has been actively involved in multiple charitable organizations, including the Jamaican Athletes’ Fund and the Merlene Ottey Foundation, which aims to promote sports and education in Jamaica.