Jamaica and the world have lost one of the greatest athletes ever to grace the track with the death tonight of Herb Henry McKenley at the age of 85.
Herb was a runner of unseal talent whose achievements are legendary in athletics and earned him the respect of track and aficionados the world over.
We recall his mind-boggling feat when enrolled in the University of Illinois, winning the NCAA Championships in the 220 yards and the 440 yards in 1946 and 1947 and was also AAU champion in the 440 yards in 1945, 1947 and 1948. He also had the list of world best times in the 100 meters, the 200 meters and the 400 meters in 1947 – still the only person on the planet to have ever performed this feat.
We also remember with delight that just before the 1948 London Olympics Herb ran the new world record of 46 seconds in the 400 meters although he had to settle for the silver medal behind team mate Arthur Wint in the Olympic Games themselves.
Herb’s greatest moment came of course in Helsinki, Finland, when he finally got his Olympic Gold as he helped the Jamaica 4×400 meters relay to win the race with a new world record of 3.03.9.
He continued to give unselfishly to sports after retiring as an athlete. He was coach of the Jamaican national team from 1954 to 1973 and also served as president of the Jamaica Amateur Athletics Association. His alma mater Calabar High School was also the beneficiary of his vast talent and knowledge as he was also the school’s track and field coach for many years.
An extremely grateful nation honoured Herb McKenley by bestowing on him the nation’s third highest honour, the Order of Merit in 2004.
A deeply sad nation must now say goodbye to this great son of Jamaica who has lit up the tracks in stadia around the world whose iconic performances have made him the only man to have won medals in all three sprints in the same major games,; the only man in the 20th Century to have Olympic medals in the 100 meters and the 400 meters.
His legacy is clearly seen in Jamaica’s continued dominance in world athletics; his memory will always be with us.
Our condolence go to his widow Beverly and family and friends.

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