Don Quarrie competed in five Olympic games. He 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) that bears his name in Eastern Kingston. Musical artists have also sung the praises for Don. There are a number of reggae tunes titled "Tribute to Donald Quarrie", one by Joe Gibbs and The Guerillas and one by Bongo Herman. Many Jamaicans still refer to him in casual conversation, comparing his speed to that of everyday activities (as in, "not even Don Quarrie could catch me I was so fast").[original research?]
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Quarrie made the Jamaican 100 m team for the 1968 Summer Olympics as a 17-year-old, but he injured himself in training, and couldn't take part. He moved to the United States and attended the University of Southern California, graduating with a degree in Business and Public Administration. There, his sprinting capabilities gradually increased. At the 1970 Commonwealth Games, Quarrie won the gold medal in both the 100 and 200 m, surprising his more experienced competitors. Anchoring the Jamaican 4 x 100 m relay team, he pocketed a third Commonwealth title.
Quarrie repeated his sprint double the following year, at the Pan American Games in Cali and his time in the 200 meters was a hand-timed 19.8. One of the favourites for the upcoming Munich Olympics, Quarrie again suffered from injuries at the Olympic Games. He did compete in the 200 m, but had to abandon his 200 m semi-final after pulling a muscle.
In 1974, Quarrie repeated his 1970 performance by grabbing the 100 and 200 m titles at the Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, becoming the first athlete to retain the title in either event. The next season, he again tied the 200 m world record, 19.8. He also tied the 100 m record with a hand-timed mark (9.9) in 1976 at the California Relays at Modesto Junior College, one of only a few athletes to have held these records simultaneously. This time was actually 10.07 seconds.
In 1976 after winning the AAA's 100/200 titles, Quarrie could finally compete at the Olympics without injuries. He first made the 100 m final, which he led until overtaken by Trinidadian Hasely Crawford. In the 200 m, Quarrie led the pack coming out of the turn, and held off all challenges to take the title in 20.22.
At the 1978 Commonwealth Games, he won his third consecutive 100 m title, but was eliminated in the 200 m after a cramp attack. Quarrie's fourth Olympics, in Moscow saw him being eliminated in the 100 m semi-finals. His title defense also failed in the 200m, but he did make the final, and finished third, adding a bronze medal to his collection.
By 1984, Quarrie was no longer among the world's best in the individual sprint events, and it was therefore no surprise he was eliminated in the heats of the 200 m event at the Los Angeles Olympics. However, he won a fourth Olympic medal with the Jamaican relay team, which finished second behind the United States.