After Martina Navratilova playing Wimbledon at nearly 50, prepare yourself for the phenomenon of Merlene Ottey turning out in an international track championships at 46, more than a quarter of a century after her debut at that level.
Ottey, who has been resident in Slovenia since 1999, qualified for next month’s European Championships by clocking 11.45sec for a third place finish – and a world age record – at 100m in a small meeting in her new home country.
It will mark another extraordinary chapter in Ottey’s often controversial career, which began as a Jamaican teenager at the 1979 Pan-Am Games, and saw her make her Olympic debut in Moscow in 1980.
Throughout her career, she won eight Olympic medals – the most by any woman in track and field history – but never managed to take gold. She was still good enough to preogress to the 100m semi-final at the Athens Games in 2004, at the age of 44.
At World Championship level, Ottey won 14 medals between 1983 to 1997 ”more than any other athlete, male or female, and including three golds. In total, she accumulated 34 medals at major international events during her career.
The European Championships in Gothenburg, from August 6-13, will be the first time Ottey has competed in the event.
On Wednesday night, Ottey said:
“The first part of my season didn’t go as I wanted it to. It’s not until now that that my form is getting better from race to race.
“I have two weeks until the European Championships and enough time in order to improve even more.”
Ottey is also due to compete in the Celtic Cup at Grangemouth on August 16.
For more career information on Ottey, click here.