The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Jamaican Athletes of all time. This list of famous Jamaican Athletes is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Jamaican Athletes.
With an HPI of 69.64, Usain Bolt is the most famous Jamaican Athlete. His biography has been translated into 114 different languages on wikipedia.
Usain St Leo Bolt, (; born 21 August 1986) is a Jamaican retired sprinter, widely considered to be the greatest sprinter of all time. He is a world record holder in the 100 metres, 200 metres and 4 × 100 metres relay. An eight-time Olympic gold medallist, Bolt is the only sprinter to win Olympic 100 m and 200 m titles at three consecutive Olympics (2008, 2012 and 2016). He also won two 4 × 100 relay gold medals. He gained worldwide fame for his double sprint victory in world record times at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which made him the first person to hold both records since fully automatic time became mandatory. An eleven-time World Champion, he won consecutive World Championship 100 m, 200 m and 4 × 100 metres relay gold medals from 2009 to 2015, with the exception of a 100 m false start in 2011. He is the most successful male athlete of the World Championships. Bolt is the first athlete to win four World Championship titles in the 200 m and is one of the most successful in the 100 m with three titles. Bolt improved upon his second 100 m world record of 9.69 with 9.58 seconds in 2009 – the biggest improvement since the start of electronic timing. He has twice broken the 200 metres world record, setting 19.30 in 2008 and 19.19 in 2009. He has helped Jamaica to three 4 × 100 metres relay world records, with the current record being 36.84 seconds set in 2012. Bolt's most successful event is the 200 m, with three Olympic and four World titles. The 2008 Olympics was his international debut over 100 m; he had earlier won numerous 200 m medals (including 2007 World Championship silver) and held the world under-20 and world under-18 records for the event until being surpassed by Erriyon Knighton in 2021. His achievements as a sprinter have earned him the media nickname "Lightning Bolt", and his awards include the IAAF World Athlete of the Year, Track & Field Athlete of the Year, BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year (three times) and Laureus World Sportsman of the Year (four times). Bolt retired after the 2017 World Championships, when he finished third in his last solo 100 m race, opted out of the 200 m, and pulled up in the 4×100 m relay final.
With an HPI of 67.75, Ben Johnson is the 2nd most famous Jamaican Athlete. His biography has been translated into 37 different languages.
Benjamin Sinclair Johnson, (born December 30, 1961) is a Jamaican-born Canadian former sprinter, who won two bronze medals at the 1984 Summer Olympics. During the 1987–88 season he held the title of the world's fastest man, breaking both the 100m and the 60m indoor World Records. He was stripped of his gold medals in the 100 metres at the 1987 World Championships and 1988 Summer Olympics after being disqualified for doping.
With an HPI of 61.82, Merlene Ottey is the 3rd most famous Jamaican Athlete. Her biography has been translated into 31 different languages.
Merlene Joyce Ottey OJ, CD (born 10 May 1960) is a Jamaican-Slovenian former track and field sprinter. She began her career representing Jamaica in 1978, and continued to do so for 24 years, before representing Slovenia from 2002 to 2012. She is ranked fourth on the all-time list over 60 metres (indoor), eighth on the all-time list over 100 metres and fifth on the all-time list over 200 metres. She is the current world indoor record holder for 200 metres with 21.87 seconds, set in 1993. She was named Jamaican Sportswoman of the Year 13 times between 1979 and 1995. Ottey had the longest career as a top level international sprinter appearing at the Pan Am games in 1979 as a 19 year old fresh from U20 and Junior competitions, and concluding her career at age 52 when she anchored the Slovene 4 × 100 m relay team at the 2012 European Championships. A nine-time Olympic medalist, she holds the record for the most Olympic appearances (seven) of any track and field athlete. Although gold medal success at the Olympics eluded Ottey, she was able to bring home three silvers and six bronze medals. She won 14 World Championship medals, and still holds the record (as of 2017) for most medals in individual events with 10. Her career achievements and longevity led to her being called the "Queen of the Track". Her proclivity for earning bronze medals in major championships earned her the title of "Bronze Queen" in track circles.Ottey was formerly married to the American high jumper and 400 m hurdler Nat Page and was known as Merlene Ottey-Page during the mid-eighties.
With an HPI of 59.40, Asafa Powell is the 4th most famous Jamaican Athlete. His biography has been translated into 51 different languages.
Asafa Powell, CD (born 23 November 1982) is a Jamaican sprinter who specialises in the 100 metres. He set the 100 metres world record twice, between June 2005 and May 2008 with times of 9.77 and 9.74 seconds. Powell has consistently broken the 10-second barrier in competition, with his personal best of 9.72 s ranking fourth on the all-time list of male 100-metre athletes. As of 1 September 2016, Powell has broken the ten-second barrier more times than anyone else—97 times. He currently holds the world record for the 100-yard dash with a time of 9.09 s, set on 27 May 2010 in Ostrava, Czech Republic. At the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, he won a gold medal in the 4 x 100 metres relay. Powell competed in the 100 m at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics, finishing fifth in 2004 and 2008 and eighth after injuring his groin during the race in 2012. At the 2007 Osaka World Championships, he won a bronze and a silver medal in the 100 m and 4 x 100 m relay respectively, and he was successful at the Commonwealth Games, winning two golds and one silver medal. At the 2009 World Championships, he won the 100 m bronze and relay gold. Powell has won five times at the IAAF World Athletics Final and was the former 100 m world record holder in the event. Powell had tested positive for the drug oxilofrine in 2013 and withdrew from the 2013 World Athletics Championships as a result. Powell and fellow Jamaican Sprinter, Sherone Simpson had taken the supplement Ephiphany D1 as part of their training regimen, not knowing it contained oxilofrine. It was later revealed that Acacia was substituted with oxilofrine, and not revealed by the manufacturer. The duo sued the company that sold the supplement, Dynamic Life Nutrition (DLN), in order to clear their names. Both Powell and Simpson reached an out of court settlement for an undisclosed amount in September 2015. After the settlement, Simpson released a statement stating: "Both Asafa and I are happy that we were able to settle this out of court." In April 2014, the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission suspended him for 18 months over doping charges, expiring in December that year. However, after appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the suspension was reduced to 6 months.
With an HPI of 57.54, Don Quarrie is the 5th most famous Jamaican Athlete. His biography has been translated into 24 different languages.
Donald O'Riley Quarrie CD (born 25 February 1951) is a Jamaican former track and field athlete, one of the world's top sprinters during the 1970s. At the 1976 Summer Olympics he was the gold medallist in the Olympic 200 meters and silver medallist in the Olympic 100 meters. In all, he competed in five Olympic Games and won four Olympic medals during his career. He equalled the 200 meters world record in 1971 and equalled the 100 metres world record in 1976. He has lifetime bests of 10.07 seconds and 19.86 seconds for the events. He won 100 metres/200 metres sprint doubles at the 1970 Commonwealth Games, 1971 Pan American Games, and 1974 Commonwealth Games. He was the first male to defend either the 100 m or 200 m title at the Commonwealth Games and a 100 m win at the 1978 Commonwealth Games makes him the only person to have won that title three times. He won nine gold medals in the sprints at the Central American and Caribbean Championships in Athletics from 1971 to 1981. He has received recognition both on and off the field. He was a five-time winner at the Jamaican Sportsperson of the Year and a statue of him is positioned at the entrance to Jamaica's National Stadium. There is also a school (Donald Quarrie High School) that bears his name in Eastern Kingston. Reggae artists have paid respect to his achievements with songs including "Tribute to Donald Quarrie", one by Joe Gibbs and The Guerrillas and one by Bongo Herman.
With an HPI of 56.17, George Rhoden is the 6th most famous Jamaican Athlete. His biography has been translated into 20 different languages.
George Vincent Rhoden (born 13 December 1926) is a Jamaican retired athlete, winner of two Olympic gold medals in 1952. Rhoden was born in Kingston in December 1926. He later moved to San Francisco, California, and was one of the successful long sprinters from Jamaica in the late 1940s and early 1950s, along with Arthur Wint and Herb McKenley. He competed in the 1948 Summer Olympics, but did not win a medal, being eliminated in the heats of the 100 m and the semi-final of the 400 m. He was also a member of the heavily favoured Jamaican 4 × 400 m relay team, but when Wint pulled a muscle in the final, their chances at a medal were gone. On 22 August 1950 at Eskilstuna, Sweden, Rhoden set a new world record in 400 m of 45.8 s. He also won the AAU championships in 400 m from 1949 to 1951 and as a Morgan State University student, won the NCAA championships in 220 yd (200 m) in 1951 and in 440 yd (400 m) from 1950 to 1952. He was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. At the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Rhoden was more successful. As a world record holder he was one of the pre-race favourites in the 400 m which he won in a close battle with his compatriot McKenley, who had also been second in the 1948 Olympic 400 m. As the anchor runner of the Jamaican relay team, Rhoden added a second Olympic gold, edging the United States by a tenth of a second, and setting a new world record (3:03.9).
With an HPI of 55.57, Arthur Wint is the 7th most famous Jamaican Athlete. His biography has been translated into 22 different languages.
Arthur Stanley Wint OD MBE (25 May 1920 – 19 October 1992) was a Jamaican sprinter. Competing at the 1948 and 1952 Olympics he who won two gold and two silver medals, becoming the first Jamaican Olympic gold medalist.
With an HPI of 55.44, Linford Christie is the 8th most famous Jamaican Athlete. His biography has been translated into 32 different languages.
Linford Cicero Christie (born 2 April 1960) is a Jamaican-born British former sprinter. He is the only British man to have won gold medals in the 100 metres at all four major competitions open to British athletes: the Olympic Games, the World Championships, the European Championships and the Commonwealth Games. He was the first European athlete to break the 10-second barrier in the 100 m and still holds the British record in the event. He is a former world indoor record holder over 200 metres, and a former European record holder in the 60 metres, 100 m and 4 × 100 metres relay. He remains one of the most highly decorated British athletes of all-time. By the end of his track career Christie had won 24 medals overall, more than any other British male athlete before or since. In 1993 he was awarded the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
With an HPI of 53.97, Donovan Bailey is the 9th most famous Jamaican Athlete. His biography has been translated into 32 different languages.
Donovan Anthony Bailey, (born December 16, 1967) is a retired Jamaican-Canadian sprinter. He once held the world record for the 100 metres. He recorded a time of 9.84 seconds to win the gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games. He was the first Canadian to legally break the 10-second barrier in the 100 m. Particularly noted for his top speed, Bailey ran 12.10 m/s (43.6 km/h; 27.1 mph) in his 1996 Olympic title run, the fastest ever recorded by a human at the time. He was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 2004 as an individual athlete and in 2008 as part of the 1996 Summer Olympics 4x100 relay team. In 2005, he was also inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame.
With an HPI of 53.82, Yohan Blake is the 10th most famous Jamaican Athlete. His biography has been translated into 43 different languages.
Yohan Blake (born 26 December 1989), is a Jamaican sprinter specializing in the 100-metre and 200-metre sprint races. He won gold at the 100 m at the 2011 World Championships as the youngest 100 m world champion ever, and a silver medal in the 2012 Olympic Games in London in the 100 m and 200 m races for the Jamaican team. Blake is the second fastest man ever in both 100 m and 200 m. Together with Tyson Gay, he is the joint second fastest man ever over 100 m with a personal best of 9.69 seconds which he ran on 23 August 2012. Only Usain Bolt has run faster (9.58s and 9.63s). His personal best for the 200 m (19.26 seconds) is the second fastest time ever after Bolt (19.19 seconds). He holds the Jamaican national junior record for the 100 metres, and was formerly the youngest sprinter to have broken the 10-second barrier (at 19 years, 196 days).He was coached by Glen Mills until 2019, his training partners were Usain Bolt and Daniel Bailey.
Pantheon has 58 people classified as athletes born between 1920 and 1996. Of these 58, 54 (93.10%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living athletes include Usain Bolt, Ben Johnson, and Merlene Ottey. The most famous deceased athletes include Arthur Wint, Herb McKenley, and Lennox Miller. As of October 2020, 9 new athletes have been added to Pantheon including Maurice Smith, Beverly McDonald, and Dwight Thomas.
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Which Athletes were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 4 most globally memorable Athletes since 1700.