The Most Famous

ATHLETES from Jamaica

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This page contains a list of the greatest Jamaican Athletes. The pantheon dataset contains 6,025 Athletes, 71 of which were born in Jamaica. This makes Jamaica the birth place of the 17th most number of Athletes behind Australia, and Ukraine.

Top 10

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.

Photo of Usain Bolt

1. Usain Bolt (b. 1986)

With an HPI of 63.34, Usain Bolt is the most famous Jamaican Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 117 different languages on wikipedia.

Usain St. Leo Bolt (; born 21 August 1986) is a retired Jamaican sprinter, widely considered to be the greatest sprinter of all time. He is the 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, being the first person to run sub-9.7s and sub-9.6s. 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 was included in Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2016. 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 injured in the 4×100 m relay final.

Photo of Ben Johnson

2. Ben Johnson (b. 1961)

With an HPI of 59.17, Ben Johnson is the 2nd most famous Jamaican Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 38 different languages.

Benjamin Sinclair Johnson, (born December 30, 1961) is a Canadian former sprinter. 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 won the 100 metres at the 1987 World Championships in Athletics; and at the 1988 Summer Olympics, but was disqualified for doping and stripped of the gold medal; and later he also lost most of the other medals he had achieved while being doped - with anabolic steroids (since 1981 until caught the first time in 1988). He was the first man to beat 9.90 (Rome, 1987) and 9.80 seconds (Seoul, 1988). He won two bronze medals at the 1984 Summer Olympics, as well as gold medals at the 1985 World Indoor Championships, 1986 Goodwill Games and 1986 Commonwealth Games. He was trained by Charlie Francis.

Photo of Merlene Ottey

3. Merlene Ottey (b. 1960)

With an HPI of 55.92, Merlene Ottey is the 3rd most famous Jamaican Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 33 different languages.

Merlene Joyce Ottey (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 sixth 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 1979 Pan American Games as a 19-year-old fresh from U-20 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-1980s.

Photo of Asafa Powell

4. Asafa Powell (b. 1982)

With an HPI of 51.57, Asafa Powell is the 4th most famous Jamaican Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 52 different languages.

Asafa Powell, CD (born 23 November 1982) is a retired Jamaican sprinter who specialised 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 men's 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. In 2016, he became Olympic champion 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 achieved a bronze and a silver medal in the 100 m and 4 × 100 m relay respectively, and he was successful at the Commonwealth Games, winning twice plus achieving a silver medal. At the 2009 World Championships, he achieved the 100 m bronze and became champion in the relay. Powell has won five times at the IAAF World Athletics Final and was the former 100 m world record holder in the event. In 2013, Powell tested positive for the stimulant oxilofrine along with teammate Sherone Simpson and voluntarily withdrew from the 2013 World Athletics Championships as a result, though both maintained they did not take any banned supplements knowingly or willfully. On 10 April 2014, they received an 18-month suspension from competing, which was set to expire in December that year. However the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) lifted both athletes' suspensions on 14 July 2014, finding that the positive tests were caused by the presence of oxilofrine, undisclosed by the manufacturer, in a supplement taken by the pair.

Photo of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce

5. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (b. 1986)

With an HPI of 48.86, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is the 5th most famous Jamaican Athlete.  Her biography has been translated into 52 different languages.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce CD, OD, OJ (née Fraser; born 27 December 1986) is a Jamaican track and field sprinter competing in the 60 metres, 100 m and 200 m. She is widely regarded as one of the greatest sprinters of all time. One of the most enduring track athletes in history, Fraser-Pryce's career spans over a decade and a half, from the late 2000s to the 2020s. Her success on the track, including her consistency at major championships, helped to usher in the golden age of Jamaican sprinting. In the 100 m, her signature event, she is a two-time Olympic gold medallist and a five-time world champion. In the 200 m, she has won gold and silver at the World Athletics Championships, as well as an Olympic silver medal. An eight-time Olympic medallist, she rose from relative obscurity at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, becoming the first Caribbean woman to win gold in the 100 m. At the 2012 London Olympics, she became the third woman in history to defend an Olympic 100 m title. After injury affected her season, she won bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Thirteen years after her first Olympic win, she won a silver medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, becoming the most decorated 100 m sprinter at the Olympic Games. At the biennial World Athletics Championships, Fraser-Pryce is one of the most decorated athletes in history, winning ten gold, five silver medals and a bronze. She is the only sprinter to win five world titles in the 100 m—in 2009, 2013, 2015, 2019, and 2022. Her win in 2019 made her the first mother in 24 years to claim a global 100 m title, while her win in 2022 at age 35 made her the oldest sprinter ever to become world champion. In 2013, she became the first woman to sweep the 100 m, 200 m and 4 × 100 m at the same World Championship, and was voted the IAAF World Athlete of the Year. She also won the 60 m world indoor title in 2014, becoming the first ever female athlete to hold world titles in all four sprint events at the same time. A dominant force in women's sprinting, Fraser-Pryce has won more individual global sprint titles than any other female sprinter in history, and is the most decorated 100 m sprinter of all time. Nicknamed the "Pocket Rocket" for her petite stature and explosive block starts, her personal best of 10.60 seconds makes her the third fastest woman ever. In 2022, CBC Sports recognized her as the greatest 100 m sprinter of all time, while many sources, including Athletics Weekly, described her as the greatest female sprinter in history. In 2023, she won the Laureus World Sports Award for Sportswoman of the Year.

Photo of George Rhoden

6. George Rhoden (b. 1926)

With an HPI of 48.67, George Rhoden is the 6th most famous Jamaican Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 23 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).

Photo of Don Quarrie

7. Don Quarrie (b. 1951)

With an HPI of 47.59, Don Quarrie is the 7th most famous Jamaican Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 26 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 nearly equalled the 200 meters world record in 1971, coming within .03 seconds of the time set by Tommie Smith in 1968. He has a personal best of 19.86 seconds set in Cali, Colombia on 03 August 1971. 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.

Photo of George Kerr

8. George Kerr (1937 - 2012)

With an HPI of 46.13, George Kerr is the 8th most famous Jamaican Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 16 different languages.

George Ezekiel Kerr (16 October 1937 – 15 June 2012) was a Jamaican athlete who competed in the 400 and 800 metres. He competed for the British West Indies at the 1960 Summer Olympics, where he won the bronze medal in the 800 metres. He then teamed up with Keith Gardner, Malcolm Spence and James Wedderburn to win the bronze medal in the 4×400 metres relay. In 1962, he became the first Jamaican athlete to have the national flag flown in recognition of winning a gold when he won double gold in the 400 m and 800 m at the Central American and Caribbean Games held at Kingston's National Stadium. At the 1964 Olympics, representing Jamaica, he finished fourth both in the 800 m and the 4 × 400 m relay. He broke the Olympic record for the 800 m in the semi-finals but lost the bronze by less than one-tenth of a second with 1:45.9, his fastest ever time. Kerr won five medals at three Commonwealth Games. In 1958 he won a bronze in the 4 × 440 yards relay. He won gold medals in the 440 yards and in the 4 × 440 yards relay and silver in the 880 yards in 1962. His final medal, a bronze for the 880 yards, came in 1966 in Kingston, Jamaica. On 4 June 2012, Kerr had a heart attack and underwent heart surgery at the University Hospital of the West Indies. He remained in the intensive care unit until he succumbed to complications. He had a wife, Fay Kerr, five children, Karyn, Margaret, Roger, Candice and William and seven grandchildren.

Photo of Lennox Miller

9. Lennox Miller (1946 - 2004)

With an HPI of 45.40, Lennox Miller is the 9th most famous Jamaican Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 20 different languages.

Lennox Valencia Miller (8 October 1946 in Kingston, Jamaica – 8 November 2004 in Pasadena, California) was a champion runner and father of Inger Miller. Representing Jamaica, Miller won the silver medal in the 100 meters in the 1968 Summer Olympics and the bronze in the 1972 Summer Olympics, also in the 100. He and Inger are the first father-daughter to win Olympic track and field medals. He was her coach prior to her winning gold in the 1996 Summer Olympics. Both ran for the University of Southern California, where Miller earned a degree in psychology and graduated from the dental school. He had been a dentist in Pasadena for 30 years. While at USC, Miller anchored the still standing World Record 4x110 yard relay at the NCAA Men's Outdoor Track and Field Championships, held at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. The Imperial distance became defunct as the IAAF now only recognizes metric races (except the one Mile run), so the event is rarely run and not part of elite competition. The record was also complicated because of Miller's Jamaican citizenship, the makeup of the team was not entirely from one country. Miller took the baton from O. J. Simpson. Also on the team was future NFL star Earl McCullouch.

Photo of Yohan Blake

10. Yohan Blake (b. 1989)

With an HPI of 45.20, Yohan Blake is the 10th most famous Jamaican Athlete.  His biography has been translated into 45 different languages.

Yohan Blake (born 26 December 1989) is a Jamaican sprinter specialising in the 100-metre and 200-metre sprint races. He won gold at the 100m at the 2011 World Athletics Championships as the youngest 100m world champion ever, and a silver medal in the 2012 Olympic Games in London in the 100m and 200m races for the Jamaican team behind Usain Bolt. His times of 9.75 in 100m and 19.44 in 200m are the fastest 100m and 200m Olympic sprints in history to not win the gold medal. 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). Blake holds the Jamaican national junior record for the 100 metres, and was the youngest sprinter to have broken the 10-second barrier at 19 years, 196 days old before Trayvon Bromell ran 100m in 9.97 seconds at 18 years 11 months and 3 days old. As such, Blake is considered one of the best sprinters of all time. Blake was coached by Glen Mills until 2019. His training partners were Usain Bolt and Daniel Bailey.

People

Pantheon has 79 people classified as Jamaican athletes born between 1920 and 1996. Of these 79, 72 (91.14%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living Jamaican athletes include Usain Bolt, Ben Johnson, and Merlene Ottey. The most famous deceased Jamaican athletes include George Kerr, Lennox Miller, and Arthur Wint. As of April 2024, 8 new Jamaican athletes have been added to Pantheon including George Kerr, Keith Gardner, and Sandie Richards.

Living Jamaican Athletes

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Deceased Jamaican Athletes

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Newly Added Jamaican Athletes (2024)

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Overlapping Lives

Which Athletes were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 7 most globally memorable Athletes since 1700.