Although Jamaica is a tiny island with a population of just 3 million, it still enjoys great success at the Olympics. Usain Bolt is one of the most famous Jamaicans to ever exist; sprinters Linford Christie and Donovan Bailey were born in Jamaica as was Ben Johnson and all of them have won gold in the Olympics 100m.
In total Jamaica has won 55 medals at the Olympics since their debut in 1948, 13 of which were gold. All except one medal have been won in athletics across 13 different Olympic Games.
During the 2008 games Bolt and his compatriots won five of the six sprint gold medals, if it wasn’t for a fumbled baton exchange, then Jamaica would have also won the women’s 4×100 relay for a clean sweep at Beijing.
There are numerous theories as to why Jamaicans are able to run so fast. Whilst there is no conclusive proof that Jamaicans are genetically advantaged, there is some truth in the theory that Jamaican athletes are born with more fast-twitch muscles. Another scientist believes that Jamaica’s dominance is down to eating habits, Jamaicans eat a lot of yam and green bananas which are both rich sources of energy.
However, more solid evidence can be found in Jamaica’s culture. Jamaicans love running fast, athletics is as important to Jamaica as football is to England. It is also important to remember that success in athletics results in money and fame and Jamaica is a poor country.
There are professional inter-school competitions for various age groups in Jamaica. Over 25,000 fans go to watch the famous inter-secondary school meet for U-19 boys and girls held in Kingston every year. Each year the prime minister and ex-Olympic champions come to watch and winners go on to become national heroes.