by admin

article by Nicola Pucci

When it comes to Jamaicaas well as reggae music, cornrows and Bob Marley, inevitably sporting thoughts turn towards Usain Bolt and the large group of speed champions who have made themselves appreciated around the world. And the Olympic medal table actually does justice to the Caribbean country, if it is true that in addition to Arthur Wint and George Rhoden, who took gold in the 400 meters at the 1948 London Games and the 1952 Helsinki Games, then joining forces to repeating in Finland also in the 4×400 relay, it was then Don Quarrie’s turn to climb to the top step of the podium by winning the 200 meters in Montreal, in 1976.

In the New Millennium, precisely, Bolt brings nine gold medals with him, achieving a 100/200/4×100 hat-trick between Beijing 2008 and Rio de Janeiro 2016with Omar McLeod and Hansle Parchment joining the phenomenal sprinter, both triumphing in the 110 meter hurdles, in Brazil and at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. To all this, here’s what the girls in turn make a notable contribution to the increase in Jamaica’s gold medal tallywinning the 100 meters for four consecutive editions (Shelly-Ann Fraser 2008/2012, Elaine Thompson 2016/2020), the double distance with Veronica Campbell in 2004/2008 and with Thompson herself in 2016/2020 and the 4×100 relay in 2004 and 2020, with Melaine Walker winning the 400 hurdles in Beijing 2008.

Yes, the female Jamaica, which throbbed for the Olympic performances of that Marlene Ottey who chased the most precious metal for 7 (!!!) editions of the five-circle event, instead always having to surrender to some opponent stronger than her, settling for 3 silvers and 6 bronzes. And so, for a Jamaican woman to finally enter among the gods of Olympia, it is necessary to call into question the protagonist of our story today, Deon Hemmings, who in Atlanta, in 1996, succeeds precisely where Marlene has always failed, that is, wearing the medal of gold at the Games.

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Specialist in low barriers, namely the 400 meter hurdlesHemmings, born in Saint Ann on 9 October 1968, came to prominence for the first time by winning silver at the 1991 Pan American Games in Havana, beaten by the Cuban Lency Montelier, and then, used by her Federation as a competitor, winning gold with the 4x400m relay at the 1993 World Indoor Championships in Toronto, alternating the activity between the barriers with that of the track lap.

And if at the 1994 Commenwealth Games, held in Victoria, Canada, she took silver in the 400 meters hurdles, surpassed only by the British Sally Gunnell, and with the 4×400 relay, behind England, Hemmings definitely rose to prominence at the 1995 World Championships in Gothenburg, where she set the national record in the 400 hurdles with a time of 53″48 which earned her bronze in the wake of the two Americans Kim Batten and Tonja Buford who disputed the title and world record, divided by just one hundredth (52″61 to 52″62) in the challenge resolved in favor of Batten.

With the two Americans the clear favorites at the 1996 Atlanta Games, Hemmings instead takes a tasty revenge by taking the gold, improving to 52″82, with Batten and Buford in the places of honorwith 53″08 and 53″22 respectively, and then gave their contribution to the Jamaican 4×400 relay team which finished on the edge of the podium in the final won by the United States.

That of Hemmings does not remain an isolated exploit, confirming herself at the top of the specialty even in the four-year post-Olympic period, which sees the Jamaican on the podium at the 1997 World Championships in Athens, where she won silver in 53″09 still ahead of Batten but preceded by the Moroccan Nezha Bidouane, who won the race with the African record of 52″97, than at the 1999 world championship in Seville, where this time he had to settle for bronze in 53″16preceded by the hair-splitting challenge between the Cuban Daimi Pernia and Bidouane, resolved in favor of the former by just one hundredth (52″89 to 52″90).

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Hemmings, who had also won bronze in the 4x400m relay in Athens, defends her Olympic title at the end of the millennium Games in Sydney 2000, where this time she manages to anticipate (53″45 to 53″57) Bidouane, only to have to settle silver behind the Russian ex-sprinter Irina Privalovawho won in 53″02, and then bid farewell to her Olympic performances with a second silver in the final round of the five-circle event, namely the 4×400 meter relayin which Jamaica was preceded by just 0.63 cents by the American quartet in an exciting final sprint.

There’s still time to one last medal in the collective exercise, at the 2001 World Championships in Edmonton, when Hemmings was only involved in heat but still deserved the gold won at the expense of Germany and Russiathen it’s already time for the closing credits: Deon Hemmings, first woman from Jamaica to stand on the top step of the podium at the Olympics. To spite Ottey and preamble to the winning generation of the 2000s.

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