Mckenley Leads the Way on Heroes Day


Track and Field legend, Herb McKenley will be presented with the Order of Merit (OM), Jamaica’s third highest honour, on National Heroes Day (October 18).
The athletic stalwart heads the list of 100 Jamaicans who will be officially recognized at the national honours and awards ceremony on that day at King’s House.
His award is only superseded by those of National Hero, and the Order of the Nation (ON), reserved for Governors General and Prime Ministers.The OM is Mr. McKenley’s third national award, having been previously conferred the Order of Jamaica (OJ) and the Order of Distinction, Commander class.
He is best known for his conquest on the track at the Olympic Games, where he mined one gold and three silver medals in London and Helsinki in 1948 and 1952.With an athletic career spanning over 60 years, Mr. McKenley has served as an inspiration to other Jamaicans in his field, who have since continued the rich tradition of Jamaica’s athletic prowess.
During this time, he has become the most widely recognized sporting personality out of Jamaica with his many historic conquests, some of which still remain unparalleled. He is Jamaica’s first world record holder and the first man to break 46 seconds for the quarter mile.
One hundred years of the modern Olympic Games have passed and Mr. McKenley is still the only man to have reached the finals of the 100, 200 and 400-metre races, and to have won Olympic medals in the 100 metres and 400 metres.
He is the only man to have obtained medals in all three sprints at the same major games – twice at the CAC Games (1946 and 1950) and at the 1951 Pan Am Games, along with relay medals in the first two.It is interesting to note that his two silver medal performances at Helsinki in the 100 and 400 metres registered the same times as the gold medallists.
Fifty years later, Mr. McKenley is the only Jamaican to hold five outdoor world records, including the Helsinki metric mile relay, in which his leg of 44.6 seconds was the first 400 circuit below 45 seconds and is still a very good time today.
A defining moment in the country’s sporting history, this world record stood for eight years and his relay leg remained the fastest coverage of the distance for the next 12 years.
For 50 years, Mr. McKenley has done excellent coaching, making his greatest impact on Jamaica as national coach for many years, as well as at the junior level. He has also successfully coached his alma mater, Calabar High School.
He has also served with distinction at the administrative level, as President of the Jamaica Amateur Athletics Association, and committee member of the International Amateur Athletics Association.

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