The nation will be as saddened as I am to learn of the passing of the Honourable Herb McKenley, OM, one of Jamaica’s greatest sportsmen and role models. He will be best remembered for his role in winning Gold and silver medals in the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games in the 100 and 400 metres events that for the first time highlighted Jamaica as a nation of top class athletes.
From winning 220 yd. and 440 yd. championships in the USA in 1946 and 1947, McKenley showed a glimpse of his future greatness at the 1948 London Olympics, where he ran a new world record of 46.0 seconds in the 400 metres. One month later he clocked 45.9 and at the Olympics itself finished only second in the 400 metres behind team mate Arthur Wint.
At the Helsinki Olympics, Herb McKenley was second in the 100 metres and 400 metres, finally winning his Olympic gold as part of the Jamaican 4×400 relay team with a new world record of 3.03.9.
An exemplary role model on and off the track, Herb McKenley coached the national athletic team from 1954 to 1973 and also served as President of the Jamaica Amateur Athletics Association, always finding time to work with young athletes at his Alma Mater Calabar High School.
Herb McKenley was the trail blazer that set the standard and established Jamaica’s rich tradition as Olympic track stars, that has continued with our current crop of world beaters. On behalf of the nation, I send condolences to his wife of over 40 years Beverly and family as we treasure the athletic legacy he has left behind for his beloved country.The final tribute that we as a nation can pay to this outstanding Jamaican is to accord him an official funeral, the details of which will be announced.

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