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Key to our track and field success

Published:Thursday | November 29, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Howard Aris

Howard Aris contributed greatly to the development of Jamaica's track and field industry. A one-time sportsman, he held the industry very close to his heart, and made a great impact throughout his life. Born in Spanish Town, St Catherine, his early athletic journey commenced when he attended Kingston College. As a student, he represented the school in long jump at the Boys' Championships during the 1950s, and excelled in this field event. After pursuing a degree in physiotherapy abroad, he returned home to become a prominent member of the coaching staff at his alma mater, and aided in their preparations for the Boys' Championships. He later rose to become head coach, leading the school victory on a number of occasions.

His professional life took a greater path in the 1970s when he became the personal trainer of Michael Manley, the prime minister at that time. Aris would make a number of recommendations and provide advice to the prime minister on sporting matters.

Aris coordinated the Central American and Caribbean Track and Field Championships and the Manley Games, which became popular sporting competitions.

In the 1980s, as head coach of the Jamaican track and field team, he led the delegation to the Olympics in Moscow, Russia.

He went on to take up administrative duties, becoming the vice-president of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association. He devotedly held this post, and for many years displayed great leadership qualities. His presidency, running from 2004 until 2011, proved to be significant. Under his reign, Jamaican athletes dominated the track world during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and made Jamaica proud, obtaining six gold medals and 14 medals overall. A coach and leader in his field, Aris changed the way in which organisations, coaches and athletes look at track and field and sports today.