The curtains came down last Sunday on the XXX London Olympic Games and there were several outstanding performances by Caribbean athletes. From Jamaica’s Usain Bolt’s dominant performance to capture back-to-back sprint double titles, to Grenada’s Kirani James’ sub-44 performance in the 400-meter to Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s defense of her 100m title, the Caribbean was on full display. Athletes from Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, and Grenada established national and world records to stand on the podium. In our estimation these are the top ten performances by Caribbean athletes at the London 2012 Olympics.
- Usain Bolt defends sprint double titles
Usain Bolt was the face of the 2012 Olympic Games, as the world fastest man was the most sought after athlete prior to the games. His public appearances in London were met with enthusiastic fans who were expecting great things from the charismatic superstar. The expectations were high for Bolt who had so much riding on his shoulders. Bolt appeared vulnerable prior to the Games due to his double defeat in the 100m and 200m at the hands of his training partner Yohan Blake at the Jamaican Olympic Trials. The fact that Bolt was experiencing back pains only fueled speculation of his vulnerability.
But the ‘Legend” rose to the occasion and successfully defended his sprint double title in dominating fashion. His 9.63 seconds clocking in the men’s 100m represents the 2nd fastest time in history and is an Olympic record. Bolt’s 19.32 seconds clocking in 200m was simply sensational as he switched to cruised mode as he approached the finish-line, indicating that he can go even faster. Bolt performance in capturing back to back sprint double titles is one of the best individual Olympic performances ever.
2. Jamaica world record in the men’s 4×1 relay
The Jamaican quartet of Michael Frater, Nesta Carter, Yohan Blake and Usain Bolt ran a superb race to stop the clock in 36.84 seconds in the men’s 4×1 relay to set a new world record. The Jamaicans have now reduced the world record from 37.10 to 37.04 and now 36.84 seconds. While this was a remarkable feat, the race has lost some of its mystique as the Jamaican sprint team anchored by Usain Bolt has the propensity to break the world record, which they have done three times over the last 4 years.
- Trinidad and Tobago’s Keshorn Walcott golden in the Javelin
In an events that is dominated by the Europeans, 19 year-old Trinidadian Keshorn Walcott produced what is arguable the biggest upset of the London Games when he captured the men’s javelin title with a new national record throw of 84.58m. The talented Walcott has dominated the javelin event at the last few Carifta Games; he recently claimed the 2012 IAAF World Junior javelin title in Barcelona. Walcott was able to beat the world’s best, including two-time Olympic champion, Norway’s Thorkildsen Andreas. With this victory, Walcott becomes the first man in the Caribbean and the 2nd man outside of Europe to strike javelin gold. American Cyrus Young accomplished that feat in 1952.
- Jamaica sweeps the men’s 200m
Usain Bolt (19.32), Yohan Blake (19.44) and Warren Weir (19.84), all members of the Racers Track Club, swept the men’s 200m to solidify Jamaica’s dominance in the event. It took Weir running a personal best time of 19.84 seconds to guarantee the sweep by holding-off veterans Wallace Spearmon Jr (19.90) and Martina Churandy (20.00). While Bolt and Blake were expected to take the top two spot as they are the two fastest men in the history of the event, Weir who recently joined the sub-20 seconds club when he ran 19.99 seconds at the Jamaican Olympic Trials kept his end of the bargain with his 3rd place finish. Incidentally, the last Jamaican sweep at the Olympics was at the 2008 Beijing Olympics when Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart took the top 3 spots in the women’s 100m, with the latter two finished in a dead-heat for the silver medal.
- Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce defends 100m Olympic title
- It is very difficult to repeat as Olympic champion but Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who described herself as bold and fierce, was able to defend her 100m title against a very competitive field, including Allyson Felix, Carmelita Jeter and the reigning 60m world indoor champion, Veronica Campbell-Brown. Fraser-Pryce is definitely a championship performer and the bigger the race, the better she performs. The Stephen Francis-coached Fraser-Pryce was having an average season but she turned her season around by defeating a competitive field on June 9 at the Adidas Grand Prix in New York and has not lost a 100m race since.
- Kirani James joins the sub-44 club in the men’s 400m
Kirani James at age 19 is gradually establishing himself as one of the best quarter-milers ever. All he does is win championship titles. The “Jaguar”, as he is affectionately called, ran 43.94 seconds to take the men’s 400m title. James time of 43.94 seconds established a new Grenadian national record, improving on the previous record of 44.36 seconds which he set last year in Zurich. During the 2012 season, James, who raced sparingly, has a season best time of 44.72 seconds and was having a seemingly average season. The Harvey Glance-coached James has now captured 400m gold at all level of competition (Carifta Games, World Youth, World Junior, NCAA champion, World champion and now Olympic champion). James performance was remarkable as he becomes the first non-American to go sub-44 seconds in the 400m.
7. Bahamas men’s 4×4 relay gold
Team Bahamas went into the London Games amidst high expectations despite suffering major setbacks at the last two world championships. With stars Anthonique Strachan, Shanaue Miller and veteran Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie still injured or recovering from injury and with the national 200m record-holder Michael Mathieu false-starting in the men’s 200m semi-final, things looked bleak for Team Bahamas. However, the men’s 4x400m relay team of Demetrius Pinder, Chris “Fireman” Brown, Michael Mathieu and Ramon Miller put together a superb team performance to dominate the event and to secure Bahamas only medal of the Games, a gold medal. The quartet stopped the clock in 2:56.72, a new national record beating the American team (2: 57.05) and Trinidad and Tobago team (2:59.40) into 2nd and 3rd place respectively.
- The rise of Warren Weir and Hansle Parchment
While both Warren Weir and Hansle Parchment have the credential to stand on their own merit, we have chosen to recognize them jointly for their exploits at the London Games. Both men ran personal bests in their respective events to capture bronze medals. Weir ran a lifetime best 19.84 seconds to take the bronze medal in the men’s 200m behind Bolt and Blake while Hansle Parchment ran a Jamaican national record time of 13.12 seconds in the 110m hurdles for his bronze medal. The future is bright for these two budding stars who chose the Olympic Games as the venue to run personal bests.
- The Bronze Boys of Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago secured 4 medals at the Games (1 gold and 3 bronze medals). The young and inexperienced Trinidad and Tobago mile relay team of LaLonde Gordon, Jarrin Solomon, Ade Alleyne-Forte and Deon Lendore took the 2nd bronze medal in a new national record time of 2:59.40 behind Bahamas (2:56:72) and the USA (2:57.05). The team was lead by Gordon who earlier captured the men’s individual 400m bronze medal in a personal best time of 44.52 seconds to give Trinidad and Tobago its first bronze medal. The Trinidad and Tobago mile-relay team won the bronze at the 2012 world indoor championship in Istanbul, Turkey earlier this year. Trinidad and Tobago’s 3rd bronze medal came by way of the men’s 4×1 relay team who finished in 4th place but was promoted to 3rd place after Team Canada was disqualified. For their exploits the Bronze Boys of Trinidad and Tobago should be recognized.
- Felix Sanchez and Luguelin Santos medaled for the Dominican Republic
Felix Sanchez last won the Olympic 400m hurdles time in 2004 and was determined to recapture the glory; he ran a controlled race to take his 2nd Olympic hurdles title in a season best time of 47.63 seconds. The 34 year-old and soon to be 35, was inspired by his grandmother who passed away last year; he paid tribute to her in his post-race celebration by placing her picture on the track while weeping and kissing it.
Rising 400m star 18 year-old Luguelin Santos took silver in the men’s 400m in 44.46 seconds. Santos, who recently added the 400m World Junior title to his resume, said that he aims to someday break the 400m world record (43.18).
Other Stories not making the top 10
- Trinidad and Tobago’s women’s 4×1 relay team set national record (42.31) in the semi-finals
- Trinidad and Tobago’s Jehue Gordon ran a personal best time of 47.96 seconds in the men’s hurdles semi-finals.