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To her fans, she is simply “VCB”. But Veronica Campbell-Brown’s name has been synonymous with Olympic excellence since she became the first woman to win three track medals in three Games. The Jamaican sprinter, who specialises in the 100m and 200m, added silver in the 4x100m relay and bronze in the 100m to her haul of seven titles – which also includes two golds and a bronze in Athens in 2004, one gold in Beijing in 2008, and two silvers in Sydney in 2000.

The 29-year-old found sport was her route out of a poverty-stricken upbringing in Trelawny – the Jamaican parish that has produced several world champion runners, including Usain Bolt – and, in the process, she became one of the greatest Olympians her country has ever produced.

Born into a family of nine brothers and sisters, she was spotted running barefoot at a school sports day and, like many of her fellow countrymen and women, travelled to America to develop her talent, first through a scholarship at Barton County Community College in Kansas – where her record times in the 100m and 200m still stand – and latterly at the University of Arkansas. The young sprinter burst onto the track and field scene in 1999, winning gold in the 100m and 400m relay at the inaugural IAAF World Youth Championships.

Aged 18, she ran the second leg in the relay at the Sydney Games the following year, with veteran Jamaican runners Tanya Lawrence, Beverly McDonald, Merlene Frazer and Olympic legend Merlene Ottey, who inspired her to take up athletics. But Campbell-Brown in turn proved an inspiration to countless young women in her homeland, becoming, at the 2004 Games, the first woman from Jamaica to win gold in a sprint race at the Olympics. With another gold in the relay and bronze in the 200m, she immediately became the most successful Caribbean athlete at a single Games.