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Merlene Ottey facts for kids

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The Honourable
Merlene Ottey
Merlene Ottey in Warsaw, Poland in September 2011
Personal information
Birth name Merlene Joyce Ottey
Full name Merlene Joyce Ottey-Page
Nationality Jamaican
Citizenship Jamaican
Born (1960-05-10) 10 May 1960 (age 63)
Cold Spring, Hanover, Jamaica
Height 175 cm (5 ft 9 in)
Weight 62 kg (137 lb)
Spouse(s) Nat Page (1984-19??; divorced)
  • Jamaica (1978–2002)
  • Slovenia (2002–2012)
Sport Athletics
Medal record
Event 1st 2nd 3rd
Olympic Games (9 medals) 0 3 6
World Championships (14 medals) 3 4 7
World Indoor Championships (7 medals) 3 2 2
Total (30 medals) 6 9 15
Olympic Games
Silver 1996 Atlanta 100 m
Silver 1996 Atlanta 200 m
Silver 2000 Sydney 4x100 m relay
Bronze 1980 Moscow 200 m
Bronze 1984 Los Angeles 100 m
Bronze 1984 Los Angeles 200 m
Bronze 1992 Barcelona 200 m
Bronze 1996 Atlanta 4x100 m relay
Bronze 2000 Sydney 100 m
World Championships
Gold 1991 Tokyo 4x100 m relay
Gold 1993 Stuttgart 200 m
Gold 1995 Gothenburg 200 m
Silver 1983 Helsinki 200 m
Silver 1993 Stuttgart 100 m
Silver 1995 Gothenburg 100 m
Silver 1995 Gothenburg 4x100 m relay
Bronze 1983 Helsinki 4x100 m relay
Bronze 1987 Rome 100 m
Bronze 1987 Rome 200 m
Bronze 1991 Tokyo 100 m
Bronze 1991 Tokyo 200 m
Bronze 1993 Stuttgart 4x100 m relay
Bronze 1997 Athens 200 m
World Indoor Championships
Gold 1989 Budapest 200 m
Gold 1991 Seville 200 m
Gold 1995 Barcelona 60 m
Silver 1987 Indianapolis 200 m
Silver 1991 Seville 60 m
Bronze 1989 Budapest 60 m
Bronze 2003 Birmingham 60 m
Commonwealth Games
Gold 1982 Brisbane 200 m
Gold 1990 Auckland 200 m
Gold 1990 Auckland 100 m
Silver 1982 Brisbane 100 m
Bronze 1982 Brisbane 4x100 m relay
Pan American Games
Silver 1979 San Juan 4x100 m relay
Bronze 1979 San Juan 200 m

Merlene Joyce Ottey OJ CD (born 10 May 1960) is a Jamaican-Slovenian former track and field sprinter. She began her career representing Jamaica in 1978, and continued to do so for 24 years, before representing Slovenia from 2002 to 2012. She is ranked fourth on the all-time list over 60 metres (indoor), eighth on the all-time list over 100 metres and sixth on the all-time list over 200 metres. She is the current world indoor record holder for 200 metres with 21.87 seconds, set in 1993. She was named Jamaican Sportswoman of the Year 13 times between 1979 and 1995.

Ottey had the longest career as a top level international sprinter appearing at the Pan Am games in 1979 as a 19 year old fresh from U20 and Junior competitions, and concluding her career at age 52 when she anchored the Slovene 4 × 100 m relay team at the 2012 European Championships.

A nine-time Olympic medalist, she holds the record for the most Olympic appearances (seven) of any track and field athlete. Although gold medal success at the Olympics eluded Ottey, she was able to bring home three silvers and six bronze medals. She won 14 World Championship medals, and still holds the record (as of 2017) for most medals in individual events with 10. Her career achievements and longevity led to her being called the "Queen of the Track". Her proclivity for earning bronze medals in major championships earned her the title of "Bronze Queen" in track circles.

Ottey was formerly married to the American high jumper and 400 m hurdler Nat Page and was known as Merlene Ottey-Page during the mid-1980s.

Life and sprinting career

Merlene Ottey was born to Hubert and Joan Ottey in Cold Spring, Hanover, Jamaica. She was introduced to the sport by her mother, who bought her a manual on track and field.

In her early school years in the 1970s, Ottey attended Gurneys Mount and Pondside Schools before graduating from Rusea's and Vere Technical high schools. There she frequently competed barefoot in local races.

Ottey's inspiration came from listening to the track and field broadcast from the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, where Donald Quarrie ran in the sprint finals. Her athletics career took off when she moved to the US and attended the University of Nebraska in 1979, where she joined the track team. She won 14 individual national titles and earned 24 All-America awards, both of which are the most by any Husker student-athlete. Ottey won multiple NCAA titles in each of her five total seasons, including five combined indoor and outdoor titles in 1982 and four in 1981. She earned multiple All-America accolades in each of her five seasons, with seven combined All-America awards in 1982, six in 1980 and five in 1981. Ottey was also a member of Nebraska's indoor national championship teams in 1982, 1983 and 1984. She still holds Nebraska's top indoor marks in the 55- and 200-meter dashes and the program's top outdoor marks in the 100- and 200-meter dashes.

She represented Jamaica in the 1979 Pan American Games, winning a bronze medal in the 200 m. She graduated from university with a Bachelor of Arts Degree and married fellow athlete Nathaniel Page in 1984 and briefly used the name Merlene Ottey-Page. The couple later divorced.

In the 1980 Moscow games, Ottey became the first female English-speaking Caribbean athlete to win an Olympic medal. Back in Jamaica, she was awarded an Officer of the Order of Nation, and the Order of Distinction for "services in the field of sport".

In the 1982 Commonwealth Games, Ottey won a gold medal in the 200 m and silver medal in the 100 m. Nearly a decade later, in the 1990 Commonwealth Games, she won gold in both events. Ottey was named Ambassador of Jamaica after her gold medal win in the 1993 world championships. She has also been named Jamaican Sportswoman of the Year 13 times between 1979 and 1995.

Throughout her career, she has won nine Olympic medals, which ties with Allyson Felix for the most by any woman in track and field history [1]. These include three silver and six bronze medals. She has never won an Olympic gold medal, but lost by five thousandths of a second to Gail Devers in the 100 m Final at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta when they both recorded the same time of 10.94 seconds. This was not her closest finish to Devers – she recorded a time of 10.812 seconds to Devers' 10.811 seconds in the 1993 World Championships in Stuttgart – still the closest finish at an international athletics meet.

Her seven Olympic appearances from 1980 to 2004 are the second most by any Track & Field athlete, after Spanish race walker Jesús Ángel García.

She held the record for most World Championship medals, winning 14 (three gold, three silver, eight bronze) between 1983 and 1997, until Allyson Felix took her total from 13 to 16 in 2017 and then to 18 in 2019. Ottey still holds the record for most World Championship medals in individual events, with 10. 13 of her medals at the Olympics and World Championships were bronze, earning her the nickname "the Bronze Queen" in racing circles. Ottey was appointed an Ambassador at Large by the Jamaican government in 1993. She was inducted in Nebraska's first Athletics Hall of Fame Class in 2015.


In 1998 Ottey moved to Slovenia and began training with Slovene coach Srđan Đorđević. There she was still representing Jamaica. However, in May 2002, she became a Slovene citizen, and resided in Ljubljana, where she represented her new country in international events.

Ottey competed for Slovenia in the 100 metres at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, where she reached the semifinals. She finished 5th, missing out on qualification for the final by just 0.03s. At age 46, she competed in the 2006 European Championships in Athletics. She finished fifth in the semi-finals of the 100 metres and did not qualify for the final, which was won by Belgium's Kim Gevaert.

Ottey failed by 0.28 seconds to reach her eighth Olympic Games, aged 48 in 2008. In spite of this, two years later she qualified for the Slovenian 4 x 100-metre relay squad at the 2010 European Athletics Championships where she became the oldest athlete ever to participate in the history of the European championships.

At the age of 52, Ottey competed in the 4x100 meters relay at the 2012 European Athletics Championships. The Slovenian team were ranked 22nd in the world before the 2012 Olympics with only the top 16 teams qualifying.

Since 2014, Ottey has lived in Switzerland.

Records and achievements

Merlene Ottey 2011 European Team Championships
Ottey at the 2011 European Team Championships in İzmir
  • Ottey ranks at number four on the all-time list of the 200 metres, and number seven on the 100 metres list.
  • In 1990, Ottey was awarded the World Athlete of the Year and the Track & Field News Athlete of the Year awards
  • Ottey is the first female athlete to run 60 metres under seven seconds (6.96 in 1992)
  • Ottey is the only woman to have run the 200 metres under 22 seconds indoors (21.87 in 1993).
  • Ottey has the fastest 100 and 200 metres one day combination, with 10.93 and 21.66 (32.59 total) at the 1990 Weltklasse Zurich grand prix.
  • Ottey has run 100 metres under eleven seconds – 67 times ( plus 9 wind-assisted ) a record among female sprinters.
  • Ottey has run 200 metres under twenty-two seconds - 18 times (plus once wind-assisted) another record among female sprinters.
  • Ottey has 57 consecutive wins in 100 metres – the most consecutive wins over 100 metres for a female, and 34 consecutive wins at 200 metres.
  • Ottey holds the official World Masters Athletics world records in the 100 m and 200 m for the age groups W35 ( 100- 10.74 in 1996, 200- 21.93 in 1995 ) W40 ( 100- 10.99 in 2000, 200- 22.74 in 2004 ) W45 ( 100- 11.34 in 2006, 200- 23.82 in 2006 ) W50 ( 100- 11.67 in 2010, 200- 24.33 in 2010 ).
  • Ottey is the first from the Western Hemisphere (outside the USA) to win two individual medals at the same Olympic Games.
  • At the 1995 World Championships, Ottey became the oldest ever female gold medallist when she won the 200 m at age 35 years 92 days. At the 1997 World Championships in Athens, she became the oldest female medallist ever at 37 years 90 days, when she won the bronze medal. In the 2000 Olympics, at age 40, Ottey became the oldest female track and field medalist when she anchored the Jamaican women's 4×100 metres to a silver medal. With the disqualification of Marion Jones, she was awarded the bronze medal in the 100 metres, making her the oldest individual medallist.
  • Ottey along with Carl Lewis, Usain Bolt and Allyson Felix, is one of four athletes to win twenty or more medals at the Olympic Games and the World Championships (combined).
  • Ottey holds the record for running the fastest women's Indoor 200 metres, in 21.87 seconds. This record has stood since 1993 and remains (as of 2016) the only sub 22sec clocking by a woman indoors.
  • In six World Championships competing for Jamaica, Ottey has won fourteen medals: three gold, four silver and seven bronze medals, while at the Olympics she has earned three silver and six bronze medals.
  • Ottey was the first female Caribbean athlete to win an Olympic medal.
  • Ottey has won the most career Olympic medals (9 medals: 3 silver and 6 bronze) in women's track and field, a record now shared with American sprinter Allyson Felix (6 gold and 3 silver).
  • Ottey has the quickest 200m performance ever into a headwind (-1.0m/sec or more ) achieved when clocking 21.66 (-1.0) in Zurich, 1990.
  • Ottey has won the Jamaican Sportsperson of the Year (sportswoman) a record 13 times, first winning in 1979 and last winning in 1995, no man or woman has won the award more.

International competitions

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing  Jamaica
1978 CAC Junior Championships (U-20) Xalapa, Mexico 3rd 200 m 25.34s A
1st 4x100 m relay 47.12s A
2nd 4x400 m relay 3:58.8 A
1979 CARIFTA Games (U-20) Kingston, Jamaica 2nd 100 m 11.87s
2nd 200 m 24.05s
2nd 4x100 m relay 46.47s
Pan American Games San Juan, Puerto Rico 3rd 200 m 22.79w
1980 Olympic Games Moscow, Soviet Union 3rd 200 m 22.20
6th 4x100 m 43.19
heats 4x400 m 3.31.5
1982 Commonwealth Games Brisbane, Australia 2nd 100m 11.03
1st 200 m 22.19w
3rd 4x100 m 43.69
1983 World Championships Helsinki, Finland 4th 100 m 11.19
2nd 200 m 22.19
3rd 4x100 m 42.73
1984 Olympic Games Los Angeles, United States 3rd 100 m 11.16
3rd 200 m 22.09
8th 4x100 m 53.54
1987 World Indoor Championships Indianapolis, United States 4th 60 m 7.13
2nd 200m 22.66
World Championships Rome, Italy 3rd 100 m 11.04
3rd 200 m 22.06
1988 Olympic Games Seoul, South Korea DNS (sf) 100 m 11.03 (qf)
4th 200 m 21.99
DNS (f) 4x100 m 43.30 (sf)
1989 World Indoor Championships Budapest, Hungary 3rd 60 m 7.10
1st 200 m 22.34
1990 Commonwealth Games Auckland, New Zealand 1st 100 m 11.02w
1st 200 m 22.76
1991 World Indoor Championships Seville, Spain 2nd 60 m 7.08
1st 200 m 22.24
World Championships Tokyo, Japan 3rd 100m 11.06
3rd 200 m 22.21
1st 4x100 m 41.94
1992 Olympic Games Barcelona, Spain 5th 100 m 10.88
3rd 200 m 22.09
4x100 m DNF
1993 World Championships Stuttgart, Germany 2nd 100 m 10.82
1st 200 m 21.98
3rd 4x100 m 41.94
1994 World Cup London, United Kingdom 1st 200 m 22.23
1995 World Indoor Championships Barcelona, Spain 1st 60 m 6.97
World Championships Gothenburg, Sweden 2nd 100 m 10.94
1st 200m 22.12
2nd 4x100 m 42.25
1996 Olympic Games Atlanta, United States 2nd 100 m 10.94
2nd 200 m 22.24
3rd 4x100 m 42.24
1997 World Championships Athens, Greece 7th 100 m 11.29
3rd 200 m 22.40
1998 Goodwill Games New York City, United States 4th 100 m 11.21
2000 Olympic Games Sydney, Australia 3rd 100 m 11.19
2nd 4x100 m 42.13
Representing  Slovenia
2003 World Indoor Championships Birmingham, United Kingdom 3rd 60 m 7.20
World Championships Paris, France 11th (sf) 100 m 11.26
16th (qf) 200 m 23.22
heats 4x100 m DISQ
2004 World Indoor Championships Budapest, Hungary 9th (sf) 60 m 7.21
Olympic Games Athens, Greece 10th (sf) 100 m 11.21
DNF (sf) 200 m 22.72 (h)
2006 European Championships Gothenburg, Sweden 10th (sf) 100 m 11.44
2007 European Indoor Championships Birmingham, United Kingdom 19th (h) 60 m 7.33
World Championships Osaka, Japan 38th (h) 100 m 11.64
2010 European Championships Barcelona, Spain 13th (h) 4x100 m 44.30
2012 European Championships Helsinki, Finland 11th (h) 4x100 m 44.28
(#) Indicates overall position in qualifying heats (h) quarterfinals (qf) or semifinals (sf). DNF = did not finish DNS = did not start

See also

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