A look at Jamaica in Olympic men's 100m

BY PAUL BURROWES Observer writer

Saturday, August 04, 2012    

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As the IAAF celebrates 100 years of athletic excellence, Jamaica can put the flags out on their progression in the men's 100m at the Olympic Games.

Over 15 Summer Games in 13 countries, Jamaica were represented by 26 sprinters in the short dash to win one gold, three silver and one bronze medals.

Reigning champion Usain Bolt is Jamaica's only gold medallist in the event and could be hard pressed to hold on to that title and follow in the footsteps of Americans Carl Lewis (1984, 1988) and Archie Hahn (1904, 1908).

In fact, the 6ft-5in Bolt will go up against four of the fastest men ever at the 2012 London Olympic Games, in Tyson Gay, 9.69 seconds; Asafa Powell, 9.72 seconds; Yohan Blake, 9.75 seconds; and Justin Gatlin, 9.80 seconds.

It all started, however, with Les Laing and Basil McKenzie at the 1948 London Games.

Thirty-year-old Herb McKenley and Byron LaBeach represented Jamaica at the Helsinki Games in 1952. McKenley won all three of his rounds to enter the final on July 21 as one to watch.

In the closest 100m final in Olympic history, the top four clocked 10.4 seconds and the others 10.5 seconds.

Strong-finishing McKenley got the silver, after American Lindy Remigino, who thought he was beaten on the line, with Great Britain's McDonald Bailey taking the bronze.

Keith Gardner sprinted at the Melbourne Games in 1956, while at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, Jamaica had, for the first time, three representatives in Dennis Johnson, Lynn Headley, and Pablo McNeil.

In 1968, 22-year-old Lennox Miller joined McNeil in Mexico City, which became memorable for fast times and record jumps in a city 2,240 metres (7,350 feet) above sea level.

The six-foot Miller, Jamaica's first great 100m sprinter, won the silver medal clocking 10.04 seconds, trailing American Jim Hines, who clocked a world-record 9.95 seconds.

Mike Fray and Miller featured at the 1972 Munich Games, making it the first time two Jamaicans would compete in the 100m final.

The Soviet Union's Valeriy Borzov, who won the sprint double, took the 100m gold in 10.14 seconds, ahead of American Robert Taylor, 10.24 seconds, and Miller, 10.33 seconds. Fray was fifth in 10.44 seconds.

By the 1976 Games in Montréal in Canada, 25-year-old Donald Quarrie was regarded as one of the top sprinters in the world. He and Colin Bradford represented Jamaica in the event that year.

Quarrie advanced to the final, going up against defending champion Borzov and the 6ft-2in, almost 200-pound Trinidadian Hasley Crawford.

Up late, Quarrie, who was in lane four, believed he had the leaders by halfway before accelerating away from the field. But the big Trinidadian, who had one of the best starts and was in lane one, on the blind side of Quarrie, held on for gold in 10.06 seconds.

Quarrie took the silver in 10.07 seconds, and Borzov bronze in 10.14 seconds.

In 1980 in Moscow, Quarrie just failed to reach the final after finishing fifth in his semi-final; while in 1984 in Los Angeles, Gus Young, Norman Edwards, and 19-year-old Ray Stewart represented Jamaica in the event.

Stewart became Jamaica's new sprint prince when he reached the final and finished sixth, after inaugural world champion Carl Lewis, 9.99 seconds and fellow American Sam Graddy, 10.19 seconds and Canadian Ben Johnson, 10.22 seconds.

John Mair and Andrew Smith joined Stewart in 1988 in Seoul, South Korea. Stewart again reached the final where he placed seventh. Canadian Johnson won but was disqualified for using stanazolol.

At the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, 27-year-old Stewart was Jamaica's lone rep in the men's 100m and again he placed seventh in the final which was delayed by two false starts.

Since the 1996 Atlanta Games, a trio of male sprinters have tried to do Jamaica proud, with 31-year-old Stewart, Leon Gordon, and Michael Green making their way to the Georgia capital.

Only Green, 25, made the final and he finished seventh.

Patrick Jarrett, Chris Williams, and Lindel Frater went to the Sydney Games in 2000 and four years later in Athens, Dwight Thomas, Michael Frater, and Asafa Powell represented.

Powell, 21, was the favourite in the Greek capital, but he did not look relaxed in the final and placed fifth. The top five all ran under 10 seconds. American Gatlin won gold, ahead of Francis Obikwelu of Portugal, who at 6ft-4in, was then the tallest 100m medallist.

At the Beijing Games in 2008, Jamaica made history by becoming the first nation, other than the USA, to have three finalists in the men's 100m.

Bolt also opened up the science on height and speed, with a lightning start and acceleration that had him in the lead by 40 metres. Despite easing down, turning around and dropping his arms in celebration he broke the world record in a time of 9.69 seconds.

The top six ran under-10 seconds, including fifth-placed Powell, 9.95sec and countryman Frater, 9.97sec.





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