Sprinting legend Merlene Ottey was among six Jamaican sporting personalities comprising Deon Hemmings-McCatty, footballer Khadija “Bunny” Shaw, jockey Emelio “Bimbo” Rodriquez as well as former national footballer Howard Bell and Reggae Girlz Ambassador Cedella Marley were the recipients of national awards at Monday, October 19, 2020, virtual National Honours and Awards Ceremony.
Ottey was honoured with Jamaica’s 4th highest award, the Order of Jamaica. Five of the personalities were awarded the Order of Distinction, two in the rank of Commander Class and three in the rank of Officer.
In the rank of Commander, Hemmings-McCatty and Marley were the recipients. In the rank of Officer, the recipients were Shaw, Bell and Rodriguez.
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.
The 51-year-old also won two silver medals at the Olympic Games, 400m hurdles and 4x400m relay in Sydney 2000.
Hemmings-McCatty won two bronze and a silver at the World Championships level.