Wed | Dec 12, 2018

Remembering Neville 'Teddy' McCook for Gibson Relays

Published:Thursday | February 26, 2015 | 12:00 AMDania Bogle
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller (left) hugging McCook at the 2006 National Awards function at Kings House. McCook received the Order of Jamaica for his contribution to sports, particulary athletics.
McCook (left) discussing plans for the 34th staging of the Gibson Relays in 2010 with (from right) Ruthlyn Johnson, Winston Ulett and Ayanna Kirton.
American track and field legend, Edwin Moses, poses with McCook at the Gibson Relays at the National Stadium on February 28, 2009.
Sonya McCook
McCook and Olympic and World sprint champion, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce

Teddy McCook is a name that has become synonymous with the Gibson Relays.

This year, organisers of the one-day relay carnival, now in its 39th year, decided to honour that association and rename the event the Gibson McCook Relays.

Neville 'Teddy' McCook was the founder of the original Gibson Relays, a meet he named in honour of Kingston College's (KC) founding principal, Bishop Percival Gibson.

Those who knew McCook said he had a great love for Bishop Gibson, KC and athletics.

"Bishop Gibson was just his idol," said McCook's daughter, Nicky.

"He (Gibson) was a disciplinarian and that was my father. Rules were rules, no matter who you were, and if you deviated from rules, there would be chaos."


For the love


McCook's wife, Sonya, said that it was something she enjoyed and she knew her husband did things for the love of it.

"He did things and he wasn't expecting any accolades. I even said to him sometimes sports is number one. He loved relays and he wanted to honour Bishop Gibson. He loved him. He had a lot of stories to tell about Bishop Gibson and KC."

Nicky McCook worked with her father at the Relays from age seven as a runner and as she grew older, so did her responsibilities. She eventually worked with him as a secretary at the North America Central America and Caribbean Area Association.

"If you ask my sisters, they will tell you that I was the favourite because of it," she said.

Winston Ulett was invited by McCook to join the Gibson Relays organising committee three years after the meet's inception.

Persons have questioned whether McCook would have been pleased to have his name added to the Relays banner, given his desire to see the KC founder celebrated.

"I'm sure, I agree with them, (but) this is our way of keeping him ... remembering the man who started it all," said Ulett, who added that the common thing between Gibson and McCook was their height.

"He had certain ideas which were befitting of the time ... looking down, I am sure he is smiling and approving of what we are doing.

"We have agreed to put his name on the meet because he was the one who started it; the one who fed it, literally; who kept it going; who brought it into his home at great inconvenience to his wife and himself."

Ulett remembered that committee meetings were a family affair, held at McCook's house, with his wife, Sonya, the great hostess.

"She made sure we were fed and watered at all meetings, sometimes until 12 o'clock at night. She was the lady who had to put up with all the boxes in her house and all the medals thrown all over the place."


Fair player


Ulett recalled McCook as an outspoken, but principled and fair man.

"Sometimes, he said some things that no other person would say. Some people would say he was abrasive, but he said what he felt and what he thought," Ulett said.

It was this sense of fairness that was brought over into the Relays, ensuring that any company wishing to sponsor a race, had an equal chance of doing so, through the drawing of names method of selecting sponsors.

"Teddy McCook was just Teddy McCook and there will never be another Teddy McCook. He is certainly going to be missed," Ulett concluded.