Wed | Jan 27, 2021

Grange wants home for vulnerable Olympians

Published:Saturday | November 9, 2019 | 12:11 AMAkino Ming/Staff Reporter

Michael Fray’s death on Wednesday, after falling on hard times, has triggered the Government to take more steps to help ­vulnerable Olympians.

Sports Minister Olivia Grange is ready to explore the possibility of building a home for former athletes who no longer have the means to take care of themselves.

Grange told The Gleaner that a welfare programme for Olympians is quite vibrant but she was ready to go one step further to take care of the men and women who have brought glory to the country in their youth.

“There are welfare funds available through the SDF (Sports Development Foundation) that Olympians can access,” Grange said. “We do assist a number of persons, and others, we have actually employed them and when they get to retirement age, we discuss with them how we can assist them further. We are available to assisting our athletes once the situations have been brought to our attention.

“A home for our Olympians is something that could be explored. It would be nice to have a very comfortable accommodation. We are doing something similar for the Coral Gardens community, where we are assisting in building a home for the elderly and this is something that we could do for our Olympians.”

Fray, who represented Jamaica at the 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games, became homeless on Sunday when home of another Olympian, Rupert Hoilett, where he was staying was destroyed by fire.

It is reported that the Olympian, who was a standout for Kingston College athletes at Boys Championships, stayed in a friend’s office in downtown Kingston on Monday and Tuesday, and was found dead on Wednesday morning.

Reports from the Corporate Communications Unit of the Jamaica Constabulary Force said that the 72-year-old took his own life.

Fray competed in one of the most iconic races in athletics’ history, the 200m final at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. He finished seventh behind Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who won the gold and silver medals, respectively.

During the medal ceremony, Smith and Carlos raised black-gloved fists during the playing of the USA national anthem as a sign of defiance to racial inequality in America at the time. Fray was also a finalist in the 100m at the following Olympic Games in Munich, Germany, and was a member of the men’s 4x100m team that held the national record at 38.39 for 32 years.