Before Usain Bolt, there was Donald O’Riley Quarrie.
Perhaps the most famous export of the Camperdown High School sprint factory, Quarrie announced his presence at the 1965 edition of Champs when he won the class 3 100 yard final in 11 seconds flat. That signalled the arrival of not just a Champs star, but the birth of a future world record holder. Although he was felled by injury the following year, he returned in 1967 to claim the sprint double in class 2, breaking his own record in the 220 yards with 22.3 seconds.
Here are six quick facts about the sprint phenomenon.
- Quarrie and Bolt are the only two men in the last 45 years to hold both short sprint world records at the same time.
- He was named to Jamaica’s Olympic team in 1968 while still a schoolboy, on the back of two brilliant runs at that year’s Champs. The 17-year-old, in his first season in class 1, reset the 100 yard record to 9.7 seconds and the 220 yard mark to 21.2 seconds. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to compete in Mexico due to injury.
- Eight years later, he won the 200m gold and 100m silver in Montreal. His Olympic career, which included five appearances at the games, would include two more medals (200m bronze in Moscow ’80 and silver in the 4x100m relay in Los Angeles ’84).
- Quarrie was the first male to defend either the 100m or 200m title at the Commonwealth Games and had a legendary ‘three-peat’ in the 100m (1979, 1974 and 1978). An injury prevented him from defending the 200m title in 1978.
- He equalled the 200m world record of 19.86 seconds in 1971 and the 100m world record of 10.07 seconds in 1976.
- He was the last man to hold the world record for the 220-yard dash – 19.9 seconds set in June 1975.
Some information taken from Champs 100: A Century of Jamaican High School Athletics 1910-2010 by Hubert Lawrence