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A monument to the moment - Gov't commissions sculpture to honour Olympians
published: Tuesday | August 19, 2008

Glenroy Sinclair and Michelle-Ann Letman, Gleaner Staff Reporters

Brigitte Foster-Hylton (right) and Vonnette Dixon react after their semi-final of the women's 100-metre hurdles yesterday.

One good deed deserves another, so the saying goes. So, in recognition of the magnificent performance of the Jamaican athletes at the Beijing Olympics, the Government will move to inscribe the names of the team members on a monument that is to be mounted in Independence Park, St Andrew.

The monument will be mounted on the anniversary of the death of a great Jamaican Olympian, Herb McKenley, who died on November 26 last year. He was 85 years old."The names of Jamaican Olympians will be on the monument," said Minister of Information, Youth, Sports and Culture, Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, who is now in Beijing with the team.

The Government has already proposed to honour Usain Bolt, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Asafa Powell with the Order of Distinction for their contribution to track and field. The awards will be made in October.

Minister Grange confirmed that international Jamaican sculptor, Basil Watson, has been commissioned to design the piece. Watson, who spoke with The Gleaner recently, stressed that the marquee (a scaled down design of the monument) is expected to be unveiled in November on the first anniversary of McKenley's passing.

Years of experience

Watson comes to this task with significant skill and years of experience. His repertoire includes the Merlene Ottey statue erected at Independence Park and the George Headley statue at Sabina Park.

Speaking with The Gleaner from Atlanta, Georgia, where the monument will be started, Watson said he was in the preliminary stages of planning and drawing the sculpture.

"McKenley was the motivation for the monument, but is it a tribute to all Jamaican athletes, who represent the country at the Olympics, even those to come in the future", Watson said.

One of McKenley's greatest achievements came in 1952 at the Helsinki Olympics when he inspired a Jamaican quartet to a gold medal in the 4x400 metres in an amazing world record three minutes 3.9 seconds.

Finish line

The monument will represent the finish line of a race, with eight human figures, the clear winner being a representation of McKenley.

"The remaining seven figures will be staggering, struggling to reach to the finish line," said the sculptor.

The sculpture will be approximately 24 feet in width, with each figure at 1 1/4 feet in size.

The piece, which will be made out of bronze, will be mounted on a black granite or marble platform with inscriptions of all the athletes who have represented the country at the Olympics since 1948.

"There will even be space for the names of future athletes," Watson said.

These Dutch pot covers were just perfect to sound the alarm in Waterhouse that Shelly-Ann Fraser had taken gold in the women's 100m final at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on Sunday. - Norman Grindley/Deputy Chief Photograph

Jamaica's Usain Bolt is congratulated by spectators after winning the gold medal in the men's 100m final during the athletics competitions in the National Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympics on Saturday. - AP

Sherone Simpson who won Silver in the100m at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing China. - AP photos


These women and a young girl from Sherwood Content in north Trelawny, fit themselves in a car trunk during a motorcade in Water Square, Falmouth, following Usain Bolt's win in the men's 100m final on Saturday. - Photo by Noel Thompson

Residents of Sherwood Content in North Trelawny, travel a motorcade in Water Square, Falmouth, in the parish following Usain Bolt's win in the men's 100m final on Saturday. - Photo by Noel Thompson

Maxine Simpson (background), mother of Shelly-Ann Fraser, says a word of prayer for her daughter as Shelly-Ann's aunt, Althea Simpson (standing) and grandmother Elizabeth Simpson wave back at Shelly-Ann as she waves to the crowd in the National Stadium in Beijing, China, prior to getting into the blocks for the start of the 100m final. Her brother, Andrew Fraser, looks on. - Norman Grindley/Deputy Chief Photographer

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