Merlene Otty will now run for Slovenia!
Merlene Ottey's seventh trip to the Olympics probably will be her last. The 44-year-old sprinter is competing in Athens for her new country, Slovenia. "I'm glad that Slovenia has given me the chance to compete. I didn't think that I would still be in the sport," Ottey said. "I want to give it my very best try here."
Ottey won eight Olympic medals for her native Jamaica and her 14 world championship medals are the most in track and field history. Disputes over her selection for the Sydney Games left her bitter, though she won a silver with Jamaica's 4x100-meter relay team. Ottey moved to Slovenia to train with Srdjan Djordjevic and eventually gained citizenship from the tiny Alpine republic, whose only resemblance to the Caribbean is a small strip of the Mediterranean coast.
"I was living in Slovenia for part of the time, training there and I needed a country," Ottey said. "My coach is Slovenian so this was the easiest choice for me."
Ottey is realistic about her chances, saying her goal is to reach the finals in the 100 and 200. She's not among the top 10 in either event.
"With my current results I should get to the semifinals, but I want to go farther," she said. "I'd definitely like to get to the final. I'm not tipped to win, nor even get a medal, the same as when I started in the sport. The pressure will be on those at the top."