Born September 10, 1995, in Lionel Town Clarendon, Karayme Bartley was just a small-town boy with big dreams of one day becoming a paediatrician.
Bartley, who grew up with his father and stepmother after his biological mother passed when he was only six years of age, started track in 2012 at Garvey Maceo High School in Clarendon.
Karayme was a member of his school’s choir until he decided to join the track team in third form. All his friends were members. He made the ISSA champs final as a first-year class one athlete in 2013. In his second year as an athlete, he grabbed the attention of ‘high school champs powerhouse’ Kingston College.
An exhilarated Bartley wasted little time as he transferred to the North Street-based high school, where he spent the remaining two years of his high school life.
In the summer of 2015, Karayme left the tropical paradise of Jamaica to attend Iowa Central community college on a track scholarship, where he was exposed to bone-chilling weather conditions for the first time.
Karayme represented Iowa Central for two years, recording outdoor personal best times of 21.16 seconds and 46.47seconds over 200m and 400m, respectively. After graduating from Iowa Central, he matriculated to the University of Iowa, which he attended for three years. While attending the University of Iowa, he lowered his personal best times in the 200m and 400m to 20.51 seconds and 45.80 seconds. In 2019 Bartley graduated from the University of Iowa, where he attained a bachelor’s in Communication studies.
Karayme never thought he would one day become an Olympian throughout his undergraduate life because he thought his progression was very slow. As a result, his focus was on retaining his track scholarship each year as he lacked the financial means to cover the cost of tuition. In a recent interview, Karayme stated, “for me, it was a win-win situation as I was getting a free education while doing the sport I love.”
However, this thought process changed when he took up a scholarship to attend Texas Tech to pursue a master’s in communication studies. He stated, “the move to Texas Tech was a good one, this prompted me to work harder, and it paid off.”
For Karayme, being an Olympian means a lot, especially since it’s an accomplishment that seemed farfetched a few years ago. Karayme catapulted on the international scene earlier this year, clocking a personal best in 20.42 seconds over 200m in April, which made him the fastest Jamaican of the season at the time.
Karayme Bartley will run the men’s 4x400m at Tokyo 2020
He hoped to compete for a spot in Tokyo in the 200m. However, He opted to run the 400m instead due to a strain in his right lower hamstring approximately three weeks before Jamaica Olympic Trials. This decision paid off significantly as he clocked a personal best time of 45.17 seconds which saw him finishing third behind Sean Bailey 45.04 seconds and Christopher Taylor 45.13 seconds.
He did not earn an individual lane in Tokyo. However, he hopes to use this experience as motivation going forward. He also has dreams to one day become an Olympic champion. He is a member of the 4x400m team.