Merlene Ottey

Looking ahead to Athens 2004


In 2004 Merlene Ottey is planning to compete at her 7th Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Competing for the 7th time and at the age of 44 would be record-breaking and confirms her status at one of the greatest athletes in history. At 44 no athlete - neither male nor female - is competing at this level. In Athens 2004 Merlene will represent her new homeland, Slovenia. Though when receiving Slovenian citizenship for her birthday in May 2002, Merlene said in one of many interviews: "the only thing I know for certain is that after Olympic Games in Athens I will no longer be there as a sprinter". So the Merlene Ottey "Olympic Story" will end in Athens 2004, but this is only a part of an exceptionally successful sports career of the greatest sprinter of all times and one of the greatest athletes ever.


Photo Gallery and Statistics of all the Olympic Games Merlene Ottey participated at



It was nearly 17 years ago when Merlene's first thoughts of ending her career came over her mind, but luckily for her (and for her fans alike), she changed her mind. Later on many new challenges arose and it seems there are many more yet to come. She is highly motivated despite her age and there is no such effort she wouldn't want to face with. "I really don't know how much longer will I compete - there is no specific date on my mind, the only thing I know for certain is that after Olympic Games in Athens I will no longer be there as a sprinter", she said in 2002. "It all depends mostly on my health conditions, i.e will there be any injuries or not. At the moment I'm not thinking of ending my career. I've been through many ups and downs and I had always been strong enough to come back. Of course there are many good memories on my numerous victories and I prefer recalling them than those not so nice. I still have my favourite memory - I'll always remember my first Olympic race in Moscow 1980 and my first bronze medal at 200 metres. I was very relaxed and comfort and that medal came mostly as a result of it". Merlene still awaits every day's practice with eager and new challenges are coming forth - and as she said in a recent interview, this could well last for a while.


To the very frequent question: is she still thinking of winning a golden Olympic medal - the only one that is still missing in her collection - she answers: "I'm realistic and I'm not thinking of such a possibility, it would be stupid! I'm concerned of my health mostly and I find many other motives to run and for me the most important fact is I can still run. And I can still run fast!". "Don't worry! This is the easiest of all sports. All you have to do, is run, nothing else", she used to say so many times, explaining the fact she is still one of the fastest female sprinters that many much younger competitors can only look in her back  - despite her "high age" for a sprinter. And she adds: "No kidding! For me the most important goal is to stay healthy and this is also my greatest challenge nowadays. Injuries can destroy a sportsman, but if you are willing to strive you can overcome this as well. The age is no problem - I can still be very fast and the stopwatch confirms it on a daily basis. I can still be even faster and if there will be no more injuries, many competitors will find it hard to overrun me!"


(this site has been made in collaboration with Edo Bogataj:


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