Sat | Jan 19, 2019

DQ is the Don

Published:Thursday | January 22, 2015 | 12:00 AM

My generation arrived too late to enjoy the Helsinki quartet and George Headley in their pomp. Arthur Wint, George Rhoden, Herb McKenley and Les Laing and the man they called 'Atlas' are the heroes of our parents and grandparents.

For my generation, the first sporting heroes were Pele, Muhammad Ali, Clive Lloyd's West Indians and the speed merchant Don Quarrie.

Last Friday, the RJR Sports Awards confirmed what my generation knew, that DQ is a Jamaican icon. After his Olympic 200-metre victory in 1976, his image was everywhere. He was the face of the memorable 'World Beaters in Metres' campaign designed to move our minds from imperial measure to metres.

One poster in that campaign had his high-knee lifting technique and his balance frozen perfectly.

The Q grew quickly from schoolboy star at Camperdown High in the 1960s to superstar. Injured and on the sidelines at the 1968 Olympics, he did quick 100m/200m/4x100m triples at the 1970 Commonwealth Games and the 1971 Pan-Am Games to step into the spotlight.

He crowned that last outing with a world record equalling 19.8-second run in the 200 metres. Injury slowed him in 1972, but he roared back with a repeat triple at the 1974 Commonwealth Games and then Olympic silver and gold in 1976.

On the eve of the 1976 Olympics, he became the last man to equal the hand-timed world 100-metre record of 9.9 seconds. Not one to take the easy path, he did that on an obsolete cinder track in Atlanta.

A third Commonwealth 100 title came in 1978. A car accident knocked him out of kilter, but he came back to bronze in the 200m in the 1980 Olympics and silver in the relay in 1984.

As a coach, he guided Grace Jackson to Olympic silver in 1988 and in that year national records at 200 and 400 metres.

Ever humble, he came down from the stands to congratulate Usain Bolt when the tall man broke the national 200m record set in 1971. It was a scene that illuminated the 2007 National Championships, where Bolt won in 19.75 seconds. It was like a father giving a son his blessing.

Key Role

By then, Q the agent was playing a key role in building the Jamaica Invitational.

Fittingly, he was technical leader when Jamaica blasted the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2009 Berlin World Championships. Classy as ever, he took responsibility for the untidy exclusion of Veronica Campbell-Brown from the 2009 winning women's 4x100m relay team. That probably isn't enough to put anything more than the smallest dent in his iconic status. The Q has simply done too much for Jamaica.

Today, we have the Beijing Blasters, led by Bolt, Veronica, Melaine Walker and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, to represent Jamaica's greatness to the world. My generation had DQ.

A wide-eyed Hubert Lawrence watched DQ's 1976 triumphs ... on TV.