Jamaican-Slovenian Olympian Merlene Ottey was recently conferred with the Honorary Doctor of Technology, Sport, by the University of Technology (UTech) for her outstanding athletic achievements and her widely respected contribution to the global acclaim of Jamaica’s status in track and field. She accepted the degree on Saturday, February 16 at a special ceremony in her honor at her alma mater, Vere Technical High School, included in the third staging of the annual Ben Francis Invitational track and field meet hosted by Vere.
The award should have been conferred at one of the University’s two graduation ceremonies held in November last year. However, Ottey, now a citizen of Slovenia, was unable to travel to Jamaica at the time.Ottey, the most decorated female sprinter in World Championships history, has competed in six Olympic Games for Jamaica, as well as one for Slovenia, and won more Olympic medals in the history of the sport than any other female athlete. "I just love to run,” Ottey said. “And when you have a passion like this, you don't look at the little things," clearly referring to her age.She also became the first female athlete in the English-speaking Caribbean to win an Olympic medal when she copped bronze in the 200m in 1980 and became the oldest woman to win an Olympic medal with her final one to date, a silver medal as part of Jamaica’s 4x100m quartet at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.Last season, at the age of 52, she anchored the Slovenian 4x100m relay in the 2012 European Athletics Championships, making her career that began in 1978 the longest as a top level international sprinter
Ottey (left) poses with fellow Olympians Bert Cameron and Deon Hemmings-McCatty at the ceremony.