10 First-Time Jamaican Olympians to Watch in Rio 2016

First Timers
(left to right) Megan Simmonds, Clive Pullen, Jaheel Hyde, Janieve Russell

Jamaica’s team to the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is a good mix of seasoned campaigners – many of them past medallists, and eager newbies who will be looking to make their mark on the highest international stage for sports.

We already know the names of the big stars, so let’s take a look at some of the first-timers:


Kemoy Campbell – Campbell faced major disappointment at last year’s World Championships in Beijing, China, after he took a painful tumble in his 5,000m debut. He got up and finished the race in 15th position, but that wasn’t enough to advance to the finals. Jamaica’s first long distance qualifier will be looking to do much better this time around in Rio, when he takes to the track on Wednesday, August 17.

Javon Francis – Every Jamaican athletics fan will remember with great joy the moment Francis, still in high school, stormed the anchor leg of the 4x400m relay to take the team all the way from fifth to a silver medal at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow. A year later, he obliterated Usain Bolt’s Boys and Girls Champs 400m record. His superhuman effort in 2015 could only earn the 4x400m team fourth place. Will this be the year he also earns an individual accolade, and can he finish with two medals? He bows into action on Friday, August 12.

Jaheel Hyde – The 19-year-old has had an outstanding career as a junior athlete, with gold medals in the 110m hurdles at the World Youth Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine in 2013, and the Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China in 2014. He also has back-to-back gold medals in the 400m hurdles at the 2014 and 2016 World Junior Championships. Can he compete with the ‘big boys’ come Monday, August 15?

Yona Knight-Wisdom – He has already created history by qualifying for Rio 2016, but Knight-Wisdom is looking to upset the apple cart when he leaps off the 3m springboard on Monday, August 15. To get to the podium, he will have to get past the likes of Jack Laugher, Rommel Pacheco and the Chinese duo of Cao Yuan and He Chong.

Clive Pullen – Pullen leapt a personal best 16.90m to become the first Jamaican man since Henry Jackson in 1972, to qualify for the Olympic Games in the triple jump event. He will need to get well over 17m to have a shot at a medal, so here’s hoping for a series of personal bests! He leaps into action on Monday, August 15.