Something to Smile About: 12 Uplifting Jamaica World Champs Facts

Things have not been going as planned for Team Jamaica at the London 2017 World Championships, and spirits are a bit low among local athletics fans. Has our decade-long surge of dominance come to a screeching halt? First, we had to watch our great Usain Bolt settle for bronze in his final individual race, and then Elaine Thompson inexplicably bombed in the women’s 100m final. A spark of joy was returned when Omar McLeod convincingly won the men’s 110m hurdles title, but we were again plunged into sadness when, for the first time since 2003, Jamaica failed to qualify a finalist in the men’s 200m.

We’re currently joint eighth on the medal table with one gold and a bronze, but the meet isn’t over yet. There are still a few events coming up, and several athletes hoping to go out there and turn the tide. We could definitely use a little boost, though. Let’s throw back to the good ol’ days and look at some of some facts from our achievements at the World Championships over the years:

  1. Jamaica sits in fourth position on the all-time medal table, behind the United States, Russia and Kenya, with 112 medals—32 gold, 44 silver, and 36 bronze.
  2. Our biggest medal haul came at the 2009 Berlin event, where we finished second on the table with 13—seven gold, four silver and two bronze.
  3. Bertland Cameron was our first ever World Champion, taking gold in the men’s 400m at the inaugural 1983 meet in Helsinki, Finland.
  4. Usain Bolt is the most decorated World Champion of all time, with 14 medals—11 gold, two silver and one bronze.
  5. Sprint queen Merlene Ottey is the second most decorated female World Champion in history, also with 14 medals—three gold, four silver and seven bronze.
  6. Seven Jamaican women have won at least six World Championships medals. Besides Ottey, there are Veronica Campbell-Brown with 11 medals, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce with nine, Beverly McDonald and Lorraine Graham-Fenton with seven, and Kerron Stewart and Novlene Williams-Mills with six.
  7. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is the only woman in history to claim three world titles—100m, 200m and 4x100m relay—at the same meet. She is also the first woman to hold three 100m titles.
  8. Yohan Blake became the youngest 100m World Champion in history at 21 years, 245 days, when he took the title at the 2011 meet in Daegu, South Korea. In doing so, he surpassed American Carl Lewis, who won the event at 1983 World Championships at 22 years, 38 days.
  9. Trecia Smith became the first Jamaican to win gold in the field, taking the triple jump title at the 2005 meet in Helsinki.
  10. James Beckford has won two silver medals in the long jump—Gothenburg, Sweden in 1995 and Saint-Denis, France in 2003, making him our most decorated field athlete.
  11. Maurice Smith became the first Jamaican to medal in the decathlon in when he took silver in the 2007 meet held in Osaka, Japan.
  12. Danny McFarlane is a true Jamaican athletics hero, representing the country nine times at the World Championships. The 400m and 400m hurdles specialist has five 4x400m relay silver medals to show for his efforts.

So cheer up, Team Jamaica. We have done well over the years, and there’s still time to steady the ship a little. I’m confident there are a few more medals ahead. Who knows? Someone may just break out and surprise us (in a good way).

Tracey-Ann Wisdom is a freelance writer and editor based in Kingston, Jamaica. You can find her online at