The world is officially recovering from the 2021 Olympics which took place in Tokyo, Japan, the second time for Tokyo and the fourth time for Japan. The Jamaican women’s track team showed up and showed out by sweeping the 100 meter final.

Elaine Thompson-Herah of Jamaica defended her title as the fastest woman in the world, winning gold in the 100 meters race and breaking the late, great Olympic champion Florence Griffith Joyner’s record of 33 years in the process. Thompson-Herah was the defending gold medalist in this event and her legendary teammates Shelly-Ann Fraser took home Silver while Shericka Jackson took home the Bronze medal.

This isn’t the first time Jamaican women swept the 100. Led by Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, they swept the 100 in the Beijing Olympics (2008), with Fraser winning the gold and teammates Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart tying for second place.

Jamaica, which gained its independence from the U.K. in 1962, has won 87 medals since 1948. One cannot talk about Olympic greatness without mentioning the Jamaican track and field dynasty as evidenced by Usain Bolt, Merlene Ottley, Arthur Wint, Veronica Campbell, Donald Quarrie and of course Fraser-Pryce.

It is impossible to discuss Jamaican champion track athletes or Olympic champions without discussing Herb McKenley, the pioneer of Jamaican sprinters. In addition to winning the silver in the 200m and bronze in the 400m in the 1952 Helzinki Olympics, McKenley had the vision to create track and field clubs throughout Jamaica to create more competitive runners. McKenley served as the director of Jamaica’s national team, 1954-1973 and in 1992 received the Silver Order, from the International Olympic Committee, in recognition of his contribution to athletics for half a century.

Interestingly in her quest to retain her title, Thompson-Herah recently switched training clubs before the 2021 Olympics, which may account for what some have called the “frosty” response from her teammates to her record breaking run. Thompson-Herah’s win further demonstrates the importance and impact of McKenleys vision for having training clubs available throughout the country.

As we celebrate the wins of the Jamaican women’s Olympic track and field teams, it is essential to remember these world-class athletes  are standing on the shoulders of those who came before them, and continuing the legacy of outstanding Jamaican track athletes.

This article was written by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual.

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