Monday 21 September, 2020

Merlene Ottey to receive Jamaica's fourth-highest national honour

Sprint legend Merlene Ottey.

Sprint legend Merlene Ottey.

Sprint legend Merlene Ottey is among several sporting figures who are set to receive national awards at the National Honours and Awards ceremony on National Heroes' Day in October.

The list of all awardees of national honours was published on Independence Day, August 6.

The other awardees are another track and field Olympian Deon Hemmings-McCatty, former four-time champion jockey Emilio Rodriquez and three members of the football fraternity — top national female striker Khadija Saw, Dennis 'Howard' Bell and Cedella Marley.

For her contributions to track and field, Ottey — who represented Jamaica from 1978 to 2000 before switching to Slovenia — will be honoured with the Order of Jamaica, the nation’s fifth-highest award. She had previously been conferred with the Order of Distinction.

The 60-year-old will now be given the official title of Honourable Merlene Ottey.

Ottey has won nine Olympic medals for Jamaica, among them six bronze. She also won 14 World Championships medals, including back-to-back 200m titles in Stuttgart 1993 and Gothenburg 1995.

Ottey is the seventh-ranked 100m sprinter of all-time with 10.74, and fourth-ranked for 200m with 21.64.
She is the current World Indoor record holder for 200m at 21.87 seconds, set in 1993. She is fourth-ranked on the all-time 60m list.

She has also been named Jamaican Sportswoman of the year 13 times between 1979 and 1995.

Ottey joins fellow sprint icon Usain Bolt as well as sprint coaches Glen Mills and Stephen Francis, along with cricketer Courtney Walsh, as sports personalities to be bestowed with the Order of Jamaica.

Hemmings-McCatty — who won the 400m hurdles at the Atlanta 1996 Games to become the first Jamaican woman to win an Olympic gold medal — is to be conferred with the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander Class.

Hemmings-McCatty, 51, also won two silver medals at the Olympic Games, 400m hurdles and 4x400m relay in Sydney 2000.

She won two bronze and a silver at the World Championships level.

Rodriquez — who is sixth on the all-time jockey's list with 1,084 wins from 4,411 rides — will be conferred with the Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer Class. He joins fellow-jockeys Winston Griffiths, Charles Hussey, George HoSang and Trevor Simpson as riders to have received the Order of Distinction.

Twenty-three-year-old Shaw — who was a member of Jamaica's Reggae Girlz who created history on October 17, 2018, in the United States by becoming the first Caribbean team to reach the FIFA Women's World Cup — will also receive the Order of Distinction Order in the rank of Officer Class.

Bell — a former national player and former Reggae Boyz manager — will also be conferred with the Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer Class. Marley, an ambassador for the women's senior team, will get the Order of Distinction (Commander Class, CD). She will be recognised for philanthropy through exceptional contribution to sports development and the national women's football programme.

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