“Queen of the Tracks”
The “Queen of the Tracks”, as the sports world beat her, won almost 40 medals from major competitions in her magnificent career of over 30 years. Merlene Ottey got the desire to do athletics by watching athletic broadcasts from the Olympic Games. As a young woman, she showed a lavish talent for sprint disciplines, and at the age of 19, she joined the Jamaican National Team and performed. at the first big competition.
It was the Pan American Games in 1979 in San Juan, where Merlene Ottey won two medals at the age of 19. The following year, at the Olympics in Moscow, Merlene Ottey won a bronze medal in the 200 meters, making her the first Caribbean representative from the English-speaking area to win an Olympic medal. That medal brought her great popularity and several national recognitions in Jamaica.
In the next Olympic cycle, Ottey won medals at all major competitions, to confirm her results at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, where she won two bronze medals. Years of poor results followed, probably caused by private problems and divorce from Jamaican sprinter Nathaniel Page, and in 1987 she returned to the big stage with great results at the World Championships in Rome, where she won two bronze medals.
Although she was the holder of the Jamaican flag and one of the favorites at the Olympics in Seoul in 1988, Merlene Ottey was completely disappointed in South Korea and failed to win a medal. That failure did not discourage Ottey, she intensified her trainings and already excelled in the following competitions.
She won gold medals at the World Indoor Championships and the Commonwealth Games, to shine completely at the World Championships in Tokyo in 1991, where she won 3 medals, one of which was a gold (4 x 100m relay), making her one of the most successful. athletes at that championship.
At the Olympics in Barcelona, Merlene Ottey was again honored to carry the flag of her country, and this time she did not disappoint the nation and returned from Barcelona with a medal. Merlene came to the World Championships in Stuttgart in 1993 in the form of life, she won a gold medal in the 200 meters, and in the legendary final race in the 100 meters, she lost the gold medal to Gail Divers for one thousandth.
This is the smallest difference in major competitions in the history of athletics in the fight for gold, and after the race there was a long wait for the official results, which were changed several times, so at one point Merlene Ottey was declared the winner of the race, but those results are still later corrected and the gold went to Gail Divers, and the silver to Merlene Ottey.
In the same year, Merlene Ottey set a world record in the 200 meters in the hall, which she still owns. In Gothenburg in 1995, Merlene Ottey shone again at the World Championships, defending the 200m title and winning silver in the 100m. The duel between Merlene Ottey and Gail Divers at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics in the 100-meter dash was eagerly awaited.
The audience was not disappointed, they won another spectacular race in which Merlene again lost the gold medal in the uncertain finale and came “only” to the silver, this time he shared 5,000 thousandths of gold. She added silver in the 200m and bronze in the relay, making her one of the most successful athletes at the Atlanta Games, but it will turn out later that she missed the last chance to win Olympic gold at those games.
Years of poorer results followed, and in 1999 Merlene Ottey tested positive for doping and was suspended for two years. However, Ottey wanted to “clean up” her name, and after several appeals, the verdict was overturned and Merlene was allowed to compete in the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Although she failed to qualify for the Jamaican Sydney team, Ottey found herself in Sydney as a “reserve” and as an athlete who will perform in the relay. After great controversies and heated quarrels in the Jamaican team, Merlene Ottey still competed in the 100 meter race and took fourth place, but after the suspension and deletion of Marion Jones’ results due to doping, Ottey won a bronze medal. In her last race for Jamaica, Merlene Ottey and her teammates won silver in the relay, which made her the athlete with the most medals won at the Olympic Games.
After the Olympics in Sydney, Merlene Ottey said that she was sad to have to leave the Jamaican national team, but that she was forced to do something like that, because individuals from the Jamaican Athletics Federation want to remove her from sports and she will prove to them that over 40 year can compete. In 2002, Merlene Ottey took Slovenian citizenship and moved to Slovenia, where her coach is from.
She is starting to perform in big competitions under the flag of Slovenia, but without much success. At the European Championships in Helsinki in 2012, Merlene Ottey competed in the Slovenian relay at the age of 52, making her the oldest athlete to compete in major competitions.
It was the last appearance at the great competitions of the legendary Merlene Ottey. She was the most popular athlete of her time and the list of her awards won during her career is impressive. In addition to numerous medals, she was the athlete of the year in the world, the best athlete in the world and as many as 13 times the athlete of the year in Jamaica. She captivated with her appearance, exceptional grace and was adored all over the world, indestructible and unrepeatable Merlene Ottey.