Jamaica, with a population of 2.6 million people, has produced some of the greatest athletes in the world. Over the last 75 years, Jamaica has won 13 Olympic gold medals, 42 Commonwealth gold medals and 14 World Championship gold medals in athletics alone. Little wonder that Jamaica is branded as the sprint capital of the world. This reputation has been built mainly on the country’s dominance in the 100-metre and 200-metre events in the last 5 years on the global stage. The sprint events were earlier dominated by athletes from the United States. Later, however, Jamaican athletes took over the baton from the United States under the leadership of the fastest man on earth, Usain Bolt.
Obviously, Jamaica is currently passing through one of the best periods of men’s and women’s sprinting. Jamaicans took five of the six medals at stake in the women’s 100 and 200 m as well as the 400 m hurdles title in Beijing 4 years ago. Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is the defending 100 m women’s champion and is the current world leader with a time of 10.70 seconds. She qualified yet again for the 100 m event at the London Olympics, and was seen as the biggest contender.
In the men’s 100 m event, three athletes qualified from Jamaica, including Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Asafa Powell, qualified for recent London Olympics. These three sprinters, along with Americans Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin, have been called ‘the five fastest men in history’.