Bolt changes Jamaica's men's 100m history

August 13, 2016
Bolt celebrates his victory in Beijing.

Until Usain Bolt came along, it seemed that a Jamaican would never win the gold medal in the men's 100 metres. Herb McKenley, Lennox Miller and Donald Quarrie all won silver medals with McKenley and Quarrie missing the gold by inches. It seemed to some that Jamaica was jinxed.

Bolt broke the jinx in 2008 and won again in 2012. Now, Jamaica's medal tally from the 100 amounts to seven medals two gold, four silver, and one bronze.

In a rare foray into the 100 at the 1952 Olympics, McKenley tuned up for the 400 m with a fast finishing run that had commentators naming him as the winner. Sadly for McKenley, American Lindy Remigino was adjudged to have edged home first. Both men were given the same time of 10.4 seconds.

The electronic times were 10.79 and 10.80 seconds respectively.

world record run

Jamaica had to wait until 1968 for another of its speedy sons to reach the final. That's when Miller sped to silver in 10.04 seconds behind a world record run of 9.95 by American Jim Hines. Miller, who ran through injury to get a bronze medal in 1972, had established a national record that lasted for more than 20 years.

Quarrie lost to Hasley Crawford of Trinidad and Tobago in 1976 before winning the 200 m final. It was just as close as McKenley's 1952 heartbreaker with the times given as 10.08 for Quarrie and 10.06 for Crawford. No one then could have guessed that Jamaica's next medal in the 100 m would be won by Bolt in 2008. In between 1976 and 2008, Raymond Stewart became the first man to reach the final three times, but he wasn't close to the podium.

Bolt rewrote the script in the Beijing Olympics with a startling world record of 9.69 seconds. Undaunted, he returned in 2012 to win again, this time with an Olympic record of 9.63 seconds. That was the first half of a Jamaica 1-2 finish as Yohan Blake blitzed home in 9.75 seconds.

No one but Bolt has ever run as fast as Blake in the history of the Olympics.

Michael Fray in 1972, Michael Green in 1996, Powell in 2004, 2008 and 2012 and Michael Frater in 2008 are the other Jamaicans to have competed in the big race.

Other Sports Stories