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Merlene Joyce Ottey
Commander of Distinction , Jamaica Ambassador-at-large .

[ BIOGRAPHY ] [ 100M PERFORMANCES ] [ 200M PERFORMANCES ] [ PERSONAL BEST ]
[ SEASONS BEST ] [ MEDAL PERFORMANCES ] [ PHOTOS ]

 Biography

 

The greatest female sprinter in history
 
Born May 10 , 1960 .
Some would say that she has been around forever – true is it that she has been among the ten best female sprinters every year since 1980 . The name is Merlene Ottey. Ottey’s hometown is Cold Springs, Jamaica, but these years she only has occasional visits to her homeland – especially for the yearly championships that counts as selection for the major championships such as the Olympic Games and the World Championships. She was chosen for her first Jamaican team as a 14-year old and registrated her first 200 metres time in 1975 with 25.9 seconds. Merlene Ottey was formerly married to American hurdler and high jumper Nat Page and has also previously lived with Italian sprinter Stefano Tilli. Now she is living alone in Monte Carlo.

Ottey was the first women to run faster than 7 seconds for the indoor 60 metres (6.96 sec.). She was also the first woman to run faster than 22 seconds for the indoor 200 metres and that time of 21.87 is still the World Record indoors. She has never held a World Record outdoors but has the fourth and second fastest times ever over 100 and 200 meters – only beaten by Florence Griffith-Joyner's questionable (as is often said) World Records of 10.49 and 21.34 and Marion Jones' 10.71 and Christine Arron's 10.73 at 100 metres. The average of her 10 best runs at 100 metres and 200 metres is 10.81 seconds and 21.81 respectively.

Her fastest time over the 100 metres of 10.74 seconds from the 1996 Grand Prix final in Milan (ran that time at the age of 36) and her 21.93 seconds for the 200 metres which she ran as a 35-year old in 1995 are both World Veteran Records (over 35 years). Also indoors she has the World Veteran Record for the 60 metres with 7.02 seconds from the winter of 1996.

Merlene Ottey has loads of special records in athletics – some of which might never be broken. Most amazing is probably her at the time of writing 64 legally sub-11 runs for the 100 metres (almost doubling second best Marlies Göhr's 34 sub-11s). Also over the double distance (200 metres) she holds she record with 15 runs under 22 seconds. She has run the best ever 100 metre/200 metre double in one day with the times of 10.90 and 21.77 seconds at the Monaco Grand Prix meeting on August 7th 1993. Moreover she had the 8 best 100 metre times in one season (1991) which is a record just as her 6 seasonbest times over 200 metres in 1990.

Her remarkable 57 100 metre finals (from September 1987 to August 1991) and 36 200 metre finals (from 1989 to August 1991) without losses stands out as a unbeatenable mark in the women’s sprint. Unfortunately for Ottey the first loss she ran into over both distances (ending her unbeaten series) was at the 1991 World Championships – only getting bronze behind Katrin Krabbe and Gwen Torrence at both 100 and 200 metres. That was probably one of the biggest disappointments of her career.

Though on several occasions she has celebrated international medals. She is the most winning female at the Olympics with 7 medals (equals Irena Szrewinska, Poland) and holds the record for both sexes with 14 World Championships medals. Indoors she has a record of 6 medals at World Championships. Still she lacks an Olympic gold medal and a gold medal over the 100 metre distance, but it has been so close a couple of times.

Counting all the medals Ottey won in different championships you reach an amazing number of 37. Following her first individual gold medal at the World Championships in 1993 she was honoured Ambassador of Jamaica and now has to be addressed Your Excellence when travelling abroad representing Jamaica .

In the IAAF Grand Prix series she has won the overall women’s title twice in 1987 and 1990 (came second in 1991, 1992 and 1996). Furthermore she won the individuel title for 100 meters in 1989, 1991, 1994, 1996 and for 200 meters in 1992.

All in all a fantastic career that truly makes Merlene Ottey "The greatest female sprinter in history". Let me just finish by qouting ZZ Top: "She’s got legs and knows how to use them".

by Jakob Munkhøj Nielsen

 [ BIOGRAPHY ] [ 100M PERFORMANCES ] [ 200M PERFORMANCES ] [ PERSONAL BEST ]
[ SEASONS BEST ] [ MEDAL PERFORMANCES ] [ PHOTOS ]

Best Performances
 

Used abbreviations:

CR = Championship Record
NR = National Record
SR = Stadium Record
WB = World Best (unoffical world record)
WR = World Record
WVR = World Veteran Record (over 35 years)
  


ALL OF OTTEY’S SUB-11s FOR THE 100 METRES
 
No. Date Venue Time Wind Place
1 1985-04-28 Walnut, California 10.92 PB/NR 1.0 1
2 1985-05-11 Modesto, Califonia 10.94 0.6 1
3 1985-06-08 Los Angeles, California 10.93 1.1 1
4 1985-06-15 Indianapolis, Indiana (US Championship semifinal) 10.94  0.6 1
5 1985-06-15 Indianapolis, Indiana (US Championship final) 10.98 1.6 1
6 1987-05-31 Walnut, California 10.87 PB/NR 1.1 1
7 1987-07-06  Budapest, Hungary 10.92 0.8 1
8 1987-07-13 Nice, France 10.98 0.6 1
9 1987-07-13 Paris, France 10.99 -0.5 1
10 1987-08-16  Cologne, Germany 10.93 0.0 1
11 1987-09-15 Lausanne, Switzerland 10.97 0.8 1
12 1987-09-20  Monte Carlo 10.99 -1.0 1
13 1989-06-25  Villeneuve d’Ascq, France 10.95 1.3 1
14 1989-07-10  Nice, France 10.99 0.4 1
15 1990-05-30  Seville, Spain 10.78 PB/NR 1.7 1
16 1990-07-07  Formia, Italy 10.98 0.0 1
17 1990-08-12  Hengelo, Netherlands 10.97 0.9 1
18 1990-08-15  Zürich, Switzerland 10.93 -1.2 1
19 1990-08-17  Berlin, Germany 10.82 SR 1.4 1
20 1990-09-09  Rieti, Italy 10.85 1.5 1
21 1990-09-16  Padova, Italy 10.99 0.4 1
22 1991-06-12  Duisburg, Germany 10.91 0.7 1
23 1991-06-28 Jamaica (Jamaican Championship semifinal)  10.99 --- 1
24 1991-06-29  Jamaica (Jamaican Championship final) 10.94 1.7 1
25 1991-07-03  Stockholm, Sweden 10.98 -0.3 1
26 1991-07-06  Oslo, Norway 10.88 SR 0.2 1
27 1991-07-10  Lausanne, Switzerland 10.84 0.0 1
28 1991-07-17  Rome, Italy 10.87 0.2 1
29 1991-07-23 Vigo, Spain 10.79 1.7 1
30 1991-08-07 Zürich, Switzerland 10.87 -1.0 1
31 1991-08-26  Tokyo, Japan (World Championship quarterfinal) 10.89 -0.1 1
32 1991-09-06  Rieti, Italy 10.98 1.6 1
33 1991-09-10  Berlin, Germany 10.84 0.2 1
34 1991-09-20 Barcelona, Spain (Grand Prix final) 10.87 -0.2 1
35 1992-06-12 Salamanca, Spain 10.80 SR 1.6 1
36 1992-08-01 Barcelona, Spain (Olympic final) 10.88 -1.0 5
37 1992-08-28 Bruxelles, Belgium 10.89 0.6 1
38 1993-07-07 Lausanne, Switzerland 10.96 1.5 2
39 1993-07-10 Oslo, Norway 10.94 1.2 1
40 1993-08-04 Zürich, Switzerland 10.93 -0.9 2
41 1993-08-07 Monte Carlo 10.90 -0.6 1
42 1993-08-16 Stuttgart, Germany (World Championship semifinal) 10.87 CR -0.3 1
43 1993-08-16  Stuttgart, Germany (World Championship final) 10.82 CR -0.3 2
44 1994-07-06  Lausanne, Switzerland 10.95 0.9 3
45 1994-08-19 Bruxelles, Belgium  10.92 0.0 2
46 1994-09-03  Paris, France (Grand Prix final)  10.78 PB/NR 0.4 1
47 1995-07-05 Lausanne, Switzerland 10.92 1.9 1
48 1995-08-07 Gothenborg, Sweden (World Championship semifinal) 10.85 0.9 2
49 1995-08-07 Gothenborg, Sweden (World Championship final)  10.94 1.4 2
50 1996-06-07  Moscow, Russia  10.92 0.6 1
51 1996-07-05 Oslo, Norway 10.95 -1.0 1
52 1996-07-12  Bellinzona, Switzerland  10.95 0.4 1
53 1996-07-27 Atlanta, Georgia (Olympic semifinal) 10.93 0.4 1
54 1996-07-27  Atlanta, Georgia (Olympic final)  10.94 -0.7 2
55 1996-08-14 Zürich, Switzerland 10.95 -0.4 1
56 1996-08-16 Cologne, Germany 10.98 0.2 1
57 1996-08-30 Berlin, Germany 10.94 -0.1 2
58 1996-09-07  Milan, Italy (Grand Prix final)  10.74 PB/WVR 1.3 1
59 1996-09-16  Tokyo, Japan 10.94 0.1 1
60 1997-06-20  Kingston, Jamaica  10.96 1.4 1
61 1997-08-13 Zürich, Switzerland 10.96 -1.2 1
62 1997-08-22 Bruxelles, Belgium 10.83 0.9 2
63 1997-08-26 Berlin, Germany 10.85 0.8 2
64 1997-09-06  Tokyo, Japan  10.83 -0.4 1
100 metre runs with head wind 1980-1997
 
No. Date Venue Time Wind Adjusted time Place
1 1982-06-19 Knoxville, USA (US Championships) 11.06 -1.3 10.93 (0.0) 2
2 1989-07-05 Berlin 11.04 -2.5 10.79 (0.0)
3 1990-06-06  ? 11.06 -2.0 10.86 (0.0)
4 1990-06-22 Saint Denis, France 11.08 -1.5 10.94 (0.0)
5 1991-08-27 Tokyo (World Championship final)  11.06 -3.0 10.75 (0.0)
6 1992-08-01 Barcelona (Olympic semifinal) 11.07 -2.9 10.75 (0.0)
Adjustments made so the times equals what would have been realized in still air – no adjustment for altitude (Source: Hubert Lawrence)
100 metre runs with following wind 1980-1997
 
No. Date Venue Time Wind Place
1 1981-05-28 Austin, USA 10.97 4.4 1
2 1982-06-04 Provo, USA 10.97 3.1 1
3 1983-04-17 Baton Rouge, USA 10.98 6.2 1
4 1983-08-24 Zürich, Switzerland 10.98 2.9 2
5 1986 ? 10.78 --- ?
6 1987 ? 10.80 --- ?
7 1987-08-30 Rome, Italy (World Championship semifinal) 10.89 2.2 2
8 1991-08-27  Tokyo (World Championship semifinal) 10.78 2.3 1
9 1992-06-04 Saint Denis, France 10.97 3.1 1
10 1994-08-28 Copenhagen, Denmark 10.97 2.2 1
[ BIOGRAPHY ] [ 100M PERFORMANCES ] [ 200M PERFORMANCES ] [ PERSONAL BEST ]
[ SEASONS BEST ] [ MEDAL PERFORMANCES ] [ PHOTOS ]

ALL OF OTTEY'S SUB-22's FOR THE 200 METRES
 
No. Date Venue Time Wind Place
1 1985-06-16  Indianapolis, Indiana (US Championship final)  21.93 PB/NR 0.8 1
2 1988-09-29  Seoul, South Korea (Olympic final) 21.99 1.3 4
3 1990-06-29  Villeneuve d’Ascq, France 21.97 1.1 1
4 1990-07-10  Nice, France 21.80 PB/NR -1.1 1
5 1990-07-04  Eastberlin, East Germany 21.94 1.1 1
6 1990-08-08 Sestriere, Italy 21.88 1.6 1
7 1990-08-15  Zürich, Switzerland 21.66 PB/NR -1.0 1
8 1990-08-19  Cologne, Germany 21.81 0.4 1
9 1990-09-07  Athen, Greece (Grand Prix final) 21.88 1.0 1
10 1991-08-03  Monte Carlo, Monaco 21.98 0.6 1
11 1991-09-08 Cologne, Germany 21.83 0.5 1
12 1991-09-13  Bruxelles, Belgium  21.64 PB/NR 0.8 1
13 1992-08-05  Barcelona, Spain (Olympic quarterfinal) 21.94 -0.9 1
14 1993-08-07  Monte Carlo, Monaco 21.77 1.0 1
15 1993-08-19  Stuttgart, Germany (World Championship final) 21.98 0.0 1
16 1995-08-25 Bruxelles, Belgium 21.93 WVR 1.0 2
 [ BIOGRAPHY ] [ 100M PERFORMANCES ] [ 200M PERFORMANCES ] [ PERSONAL BEST ]
[ SEASONS BEST ] [ MEDAL PERFORMANCES ] [ PHOTOS ] 
Merlene Ottey's Personal Bests
 
 
Indoors
Distance Time (seconds) Date Venue All-time ranking
50 metres 6.00 (ex-WR) 4th February 1994 Moscow, Russia 2
60 metres 6.96 (ex-WR)  

7.02 (WVR)

14th February 1992  

1996

Madrid, Spain  

Lievin, France

 

-

100 metres 11.29? 1996 ?
200 metres 21.87 WR 13th February 1993 Lievin, France 1
300 yards 32.63 WB 1982 1
 

 

Outdoors
Distance Time (seconds) Date Venue All-time ranking
100 metres 10.74 NR/WVR 7th September 1996 Milan, Italy 4
150 metres 16.46 WB 1989 1
200 metres 21.64 NR  

21.93 WVR

13th September 1991  

25th August 1995

Bruxelles, Belgium  

Bruxelles, Belgium

2
400 metres 51.12 4th June 1983 Houston, Texas -
4 x 100 metres 41.94 NR  

41.94 NR

1st September 1991  

22nd August 1993

Tokyo, Japan  

Stuttgart, Germany

 

5

[ BIOGRAPHY ] [ 100M PERFORMANCES ] [ 200M PERFORMANCES ] [ PERSONAL BEST ]
[ SEASONS BEST ] [ MEDAL PERFORMANCES ] [ PHOTOS ]

Merlene Ottey's Seasons Bests
(# = world ranking)

 

Year  100 metres 200 metres 400 metres  60 metres (indoors) 200 metres (indoors)
1975 - 25.9 - - -
1976 12.0 24.7 - - -
1977 12.2 25.1 - - -
1978 12.6 24.5 - - -
1979 11.59 23.10 - - -
1980 11.36 (#?) 22.20 (#3) 52.49 - -
1981 11.07 (#2) 22.35 (#4?) - - -
1982 11.03 (#6) 22.17 (#5) 52.64 - -
1983 11.07 (#7)  22.19 (#4) 51.12 - -
1984 11.01 (#4) 22.09 (#6) 54.00 - -
1985 10.92 (#2) 21.93 (#2) 52.37 - -
1986 11.06 (#8) 22.43 (#?) 53.20 - -
1987 10.87 (#3) 22.06 (#4) - 7.13 (#8) 22.66
1988 11.00 (#13) 21.99 (#5) 51.29 - -
1989 10.95 (#2) 22.21 (#3) - 7.10 (#3) 22.34 (#1)
1990 10.78 (#1) 21.66 (#1) 52.44 7.08 (#1) -
1991 10.79 (#1) 21.64 (#1) - 7.04 (#2) 22.24 (#1) WR
1992 10.80 (#1) 21.94 (#4) - 6.96 (#1) WR -
1993 10.82 (#1) 21.77 (#1) - 7.01 (#3) 21.87 (#1) WR
1994 10.78 (#2) 22.07 (#3) - 6.99 (#2) -
1995 10.85 (#2) 21.93 (#3) - 6.97 (#2) -
1996 10.74 (#1) WVR 22.08 (#3) - 7.02 (#1) WVR -
1997 10.83 (#3) 22.06 (#3) - 7.10 (#5) -
1998 11.01 (#11) 22.53 (#6) - - -
In parantheses: place on the season's world ranking
 [ BIOGRAPHY ] [ 100M PERFORMANCES ] [ 200M PERFORMANCES ] [ PERSONAL BEST ]
[ SEASONS BEST ] [ MEDAL PERFORMANCES ] [ PHOTOS ] 
 
Merlene Ottey's medals at international championships (37)

 
World Championships outdoors (14)
3 gold
1991: 4 x 100 m;
1993: 200 m;
1995: 200 m

4 silver
1983: 200 m;
1993: 100 m;
1995: 100 m, 4 x 100 m

7 bronze
1983: 4x100 m;
1987: 100 m, 200 m;
1991: 100 m, 200 m,
1993: 4x100 m;
1997: 200 m

World Championships indoors (6)
3 gold
1989: 200 m;
1991: 200 m;
1995: 60 m 

2 silver
1987: 200 m;
1991: 60 m

1 bronze
1989: 60 m 

Olympic Games (7)
2 silver
1996: 100 m, 200 m

5 bronze
1980: 200 m;
1984: 100 m, 200 m;
1992: 200 m;
1996: 4 x 100 m

Commonwealth Games (6)
3 gold
1982: 200 m;
1990: 100 m, 200 m

1 silver
1982: 100 m

2 bronze
1982: 4 x 100 m;
1990: 4 x 100 m

Pan American Games (1)
1 bronze
1979: 200 m

Central American & Caribbean Games (2)
2 gold
1985: 100 m, 200 m

World Cup (1)
1 gold 1994: 200 m

[ BIOGRAPHY ] [ 100M PERFORMANCES ] [ 200M PERFORMANCES ] [ PERSONAL BEST ]
[ SEASONS BEST ] [ MEDAL PERFORMANCES ] [ PHOTOS ]

REPRODUCED WITH ADJUSTMENTS FROM MATERIAL OBTAINED AT WWW.HUM.AUC.DK/~KMNI97/