Donald Quarrie is one of the world’s fastest sprinters, a Jamaican who was born on the 25th of February 1951. He moved to the United States and attended the University of Southern California, graduating with a degree in Business and Public Administration.
Quarrie made the Jamaican 100m team for the 1968 Summer Olympics as a 17-year-old, but he injured himself in training, and couldn’t take part. He is also considered the greatest runner around the bend. Don is a world class athlete who is not only respected for his athletic ability but also his discipline and his demeanour on and off the field.
He competed in five Olympic Games an exceptional accomplishment for a sprinter. The high point of his career came in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. Don captured the gold in the 200m and the silver in the 100m.
Quarrie has received recognition both on and off the field; a statue of him is proudly positioned at the entrance to Jamaica’s National Stadium. There is also a school Donald Quarrie High School formerly Harbour View Secondary School, that bears his name in Eastern Kingston.
Musical artists have also sang the praises for Don, “Tribute to Donald Quarrie” is a reggae song written by Joe Gibbs and The Guerrillas. He also won the American AAU titles in the 200 metres in 1971 and 1974-75 and in the 100 metres in 1975 and 1977.
During his career he set four world records, one at 100 metres, and three times of 19.8 in the 200. The 1976 Olympics were the first Olympics where Quarrie could compete injury free and he won the 200 metre title easily, but was surprised by Hasely Crawford in the 100 final and had to settle for silver.
At the 1978 Commonwealth Games he won his third consecutive 100 metre title, but did not finish the 200 due to injury. Quarries’ fourth Olympics, in Moscow saw him being eliminated in the 100 m semi-finals. His title defence also failed in the 200m, but he did make the final, and finished third, adding a bronze medal to his collection.
In 1984, Quarrie was no longer among the world’s best in the individual sprint events, and it was therefore no surprise he was eliminated by place seventh (20.77) in the semi-final of the 200 m event at the Los Angeles, where he ran at his fifth Olympic Games.
However, he won a fourth Olympic medal with the Jamaican 4x100m relay team with a time of 38.62, which finished second behind the United States. Don has long since retired from competition but he is still active in the sporting world. He has been working as a sports agent and was Inger Miller’s manager in the 1990’s. He also finds time to give back to the community.
He became a kind of folk figure in Jamaica. Many Jamaicans still refer to him in casual conversation, citing his speed in comparison to an event. Donald Quarrie is still popular today, his legacy lives on.