JIS News

Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding on (Nov. 27) paid tribute to outstanding Olympian Herbert McKenley in the House of Representatives, where he described the legendary athlete as “one of those who because of what he meant to us as a people and because of his enduring presence on the national stage, spanning three generations, became part of the national treasure”.
He said Herb McKenley belonged not just to his family, and Calabar High school, which he had such great passion for. “He belonged to the Jamaican people, they accepted him as their own, and he was comfortable being part of this great Jamaican treasure,” Mr. Golding said. The Prime Minister said Mr. McKenley’s achievements could be regarded as a template, not just for young athletes, many of whom he inspired, but for all Jamaicans, who aspire to greatness. “I don’t think that there has been any person, certainly not since the 1952 Olympics that has represented Jamaica in any international athletic meet, who was not impacted by the life of Herb McKenley, and many of them directly by his own assistance in terms of coaching and guidance, sometimes travelling thousands of miles to be there with them, when they face the stiffest competition of their lives,” Mr. Golding said.
He emphasized that in many respects, Herb McKenley represented Jamaica and its struggle to achieve the success that can come from effort. “When you think of the fact that our first entry in the Olympics was in 1948, when he was part of that pioneering team that did so well.as a matter if fact, before he left here, he had achieved world record times in the 100, 400 and 800 meters,” the Prime Minister noted.
He added that, “It is that kind of excellence, of just sheer talent and determination, that I believe is a lesson and an example to all of us, in terms of the service that we seek to give in different endeavours that may have nothing to do with sports”.
Mr. Golding said the country will be the poorer for Mr. McKenley’s passing, but is immensely richer for the life that he lived, for the achievements that he made, and for the symbol that he represents to a struggling people who want to succeed.
“The government has decided to accord him an official funeral. The arrangements are being made in consultation with his family, and an appropriate announcement will be made very soon because I am sure Jamaicans from all walks of life are going to want to be part of this final farewell to a great hero,” Prime Minister Golding told the House.
Mr. McKenley passed away at the University Hospital of the West Indies on Monday (Nov. 26) after ailing for some time, having suffered two strokes and a heart attack. He was 85 years old.
The track and field genius made history when he took home three silver medals at the 1948 and 1952 Olympics in London and Helsinki. He remains the only man to have reached the finals of the 100, 200, and 400 meters at the Olympics. Before his illness, Mr. McKenley remained integrally involved in Jamaica’s track and field programme, paying special attention to his beloved Alma Mater – Calabar High school.

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