Olympic Bonus: Jamaica Men’s 4×100 Relay


by Qiana M

When thinking of men’s track and Jamaica, one name comes to mind — Usain Bolt. The highest paid track athlete in the world first exploded onto the Olympic scene at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Fresh from clinching the Austin Sealy trophy for Outstanding Athlete at the Carifta Games in 2004 in Bermuda, the “Fastest Man In The World”, was confident and poised for his victory as a professional until he was sidelined by a hamstring injury. Bolt would return to dominate and raise the bar higher than imagined with world record setting personal best times that earned him Olympic gold in both the 100m and 200m events at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the first athlete to do so. Despite claiming the gold medal for the 100m and 200m events yet again, it was the combined performance of Usain and his teammates Yohan Blake, Michael Frater and Nesta Carter in the Men’s 4X100 Relay that had tongues wagging in London. Who was this trio of sprinters and why were they much more than Bolt’s band of “merry men?”

Although it was Bolt who ran the anchor leg to seal the deal, it was teammates Yohan Blake and Michael Frater who set the Jamaican men’s relay team on the path to clinching Olympic gold.  Since Bolt’s domination of the men’s track circuit, the closest competitor that has come close to defeating the self-proclaimed “legend” has been fellow countryman and teammate, Yohan Blake.  Blake blazed the fastest time in the semi-finals heat at 20.01 seconds compared to Bolt’s fifth place qualifying time of 20.38. The 6’5 flashy Jamaican sprinter would have his revenge though as Blake only came close to surpassing Bolt in the 200 meter race, finishing at 19.44 seconds —.07 seconds too late in catching who U.S. sprinter Ryan Bailey nicknamed “Monster.”  Bolt all but strolled across the finish line, characteristically bringing his lone finger to his lips in a signal to hush the crowd and silence his critics.

“I did it at the trials and he wanted to get me back,” Blake revealed to The Associated Press after the race regarding Bolt’s gesture. “So he got me back.”

Not to be outdone by his more famous team front runners, Michael Frater has been instrumental in insuring Jamaica’s Mens 4×100 Relay team brought home gold with successes at the 2011 Daegu World Championships, 2009 Berlin World Championships, 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2006 Commonwealth Games. The playful competitiveness between the two has shown the true comradery between the Jamaicans.  In the true spirit of the phrase “If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em,”  Yohan vowed to be victorious competing by Bolt’s side in the 4×100 Men’s Relay event after falling short of individual gold in the 200 meters.  Coming out the gate, Nesta Carter carved out a slight lead over U.S. first leg runner Trell Kimmons before handing the baton off to Michael Frater. The race would remain close throughout the next two hand offs until Bolt seized the golden baton as Jamaica’s anchor leg.

He was basically the difference in the race. It was even all the way around,” U.S. sprinter Tyson Gay said. “When he got the stick, there was nothing we could do about it.”

And what a difference one man can make! The Jamaicans would go on to oust the Americans and their own personal best time of 37.04 by setting a new world record of 36.84 in the process.

In celebration, Usain posing with Blake struck his signature pose, a move called “To the World” where he leans back and points to the sky. Yohan in turn curled his hands to form “claws” complete with an scrunched up “scary face” to mimic the nickname Bolt had given him, “The Beast.”  Jamaica had once again flexed its muscle and displayed its depth of not only the achievements of  their national hero and reigning Olympic champion but the combined talents of its future stars, Blake, Frater and Carter.


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