30th Anniversary of a Relay First

Jamaica has a proud record in the 4x100 metres relay, with gold medals galore won by both our men and women. Dahlia Duhaney, Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, Beverly McDonald and Merlene Ottey began that sequence on September 1, 30 years ago at the 1991 World Championships with a memorable run in Tokyo, Japan. 

4x100 1991

Together they outran the competition in the national record time of 41.94 seconds.

Speaking on August 31, Cuthbert-Flynn recalled, "When we walked into the stadium, we would see our flag flying high, we just walked in there very proud, knowing that we had a good team, a team good enough to win the gold medal, silver or bronze."

The chance to win came after bronze at the 1983 World Championships and disappointments at the 1984 Olympics and 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. "84, we couldn't put it together. Seoul, Merlene was sick, I was injured. It was just horrible", she agonized as the team did not have enough healthy sprinters left. 

Tokyo was better. "We came back and we were able to put a team together, a great team together", she said. Breaking the 42 second barrier was a bonus. The USA was eliminated in the heats but the winning time was vindication. "It seemed we were stuck in the 42 seconds", Cuthbert-Flynn recalled, "and we wanted to break that, we wanted to go below 42 and we did it. We were so elated. It wasn't far but we were very excited about it, not just winning but also with the time that we won in to show that it didn't matter what team was in the final with us, we would have been very competitive and we deserved the gold medal."

With the USA out, the final was a match race between Jamaica and Germany who placed star long jumper/sprinter Heike Dreschler to face Ottey on anchor. Duhaney, Cuthbert-Flynn and McDonald all ran strongly and put Ottey, the 100/200 metres bronze medalist, in striking distance. "Once Merlene is on any team, get the baton to Merlene because she's going to do whatever damage that is to be done and finish it off and she was able to do that", Cuthbert-Flynn explained. 

"They were calling her the Bronze Queen, we definitely wanted her to have gotten a gold medal in that and for all of us and for the country itself", added the Tokyo 100 metres finalist.

Vere Technical schoolgirl Merlene Frazier had done anchor leg duties in the heats. 

Though 30 years have passed since Tokyo, Cuthbert-Flynn is still grateful. "It was always a great feeling putting on my Jamaican colours and going out there knowing that we were one of the best in the world and now looking at what we are producing still and how well we're doing on the world stage, it's a great feeling knowing now that we can actually break the world record and with the team that we have now, and just looking at the talent that we have is just heartwarming." 



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