Profile Merlene Joyce Ottey was born on 10 May 1960 in Jamaica, as the fourth of seven children to Hubert and Joan Ottey. She was introduced to athletics by her mother, who bought her a handbook on track and field. In her early school years, Ottey regularly competed barefooted in local races. In 1979, she moved to the US to study in Nebraska, where she joined the track and field team.
Between 1980 and 2004 the tall, statuesque Ottey participated in seven Olympic Games only missing out on a medal at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. She won eight Olympic medals, the most by any woman in atletics history. These include three silver and five bronze medals. Even though she has won several Olympic medals, she was never crowned an Olympic champion, on occasions missing out by an inch or two. This lack of gold medals earned her the nickname "The Bronze Queen".
Ottey also won 14 World Championship medals between 1983 and 1997, more than any other athlete. Her only individual gold medals came in 1993 and 1995 in the 200m. Overall, she won a total of three gold, four silver and seven bronze medals at World Championships in the 100m, 200m. and the 4x100m relay.
In 1998, Ottey moved to Slovenia, but continued to represent Jamaica. However, in May 2002, she became a Slovenian citizen and represented her new country in international events, despite being in her 40s.