Merlene Ottey - Grace in Black & White

Merlene Ottey is a very private person - maybe a bit like late actress Greta Garbo - and is rather difficult to get hold off. She has found her new home in Ljubliana (Slovenia) - a calm place that suits her temperament and a place where she is close to her trainer. She received Slovenian citizenship in May 2002. Earlier in her life she has lived in Rome and in Monte Carlo.

Merlene is not one of nature's great smilers! Winning her first individual gold medal at the 1993 World Championships in Stuttgart her face showed more satisfaction and determination than the pure joy she was surely feeling inside. On the other hand one thing you can be sure of is that she always looks graceful. Just take a look at these pictures!

 

Even at their most vulnerable, losing an important competition or pulling up injured halfway through a race, Úlite athletes always seem to exude an air of mastery. It is almost as if they live in a different world. When London-based photographer Jason Bell was commissioned to go out and take shots of some of the world's top sportsmen and women his brief was to find the human side of the superstar. When he met them for the first time Bell would ask the athletes "What do you do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?" When Bell asked Merlene Ottey what she did in her spare time she replied, "Not much. I just like to hang out in coffee shops".

Photo of Merlene Ottey taken by Jason Bell

About some of the athletes, Bell remembers thinking, "There was a slight sadness as you realize how much these people have to give up to be this good". More on Bell's photos at: www.time.com/time/europe/photoessays/olympics_bell/9.html  

 

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