Tue | Aug 9, 2022

What disability?

Track official not allowing the loss of an arm to hold him back

Published:Wednesday | July 6, 2022 | 12:09 AMSharla Williams/Gleaner Writer
Hugh McDonald.
Hugh McDonald.

TRACK AND field official and Special Olympics sports coordinator Hugh McDonald was seven years old when he lost his right hand, but that hasn’t stopped him from lending a helping hand in sports. McDonald has been volunteering in athletics for more...

TRACK AND field official and Special Olympics sports coordinator Hugh McDonald was seven years old when he lost his right hand, but that hasn’t stopped him from lending a helping hand in sports.

McDonald has been volunteering in athletics for more than 25 years and is now a senior official in the call room at track and field events.

“When you love something like track and field, you will partake in it. It is my love for it, that’s why I am in it,” he said.

This passion for sports did not originate from volunteering, but McDonald also had hopes of becoming an athlete himself.

Despite only having one hand, he tried out for the discus team while attending Dinthill Technical High School in hopes of making the school’s Champs team, but he was unsuccessful.

Parasport was his next best option, and although he did do some training in the sport, his love for coaching soon replaced his dream of individual athletic representation.

“I worked with Special Olympics, and I saw my need there because I started working with kids who have special needs and have intellectual disabilities. So that’s where I developed my love for sports even more,” he said.

McDonald is also now the head coach for Jamaica’s Bocce team and is encouraging more Jamaicans to volunteer in sports at all levels and types.

“Anyone can get involved. Not because you have a disability or so, once you are capable you can volunteer to help other people,” McDonald said.

“Special Olympics is a very great programme. It builds you a lot because you work with all types of disabilities and you learn something new each time you go. It’s fun for me working with them.”

McDonald said working with able-bodied athletes also brings him joy because his work is the same, and no one discriminates against him.

“Sometimes they treat me like I have two hands, so I never had anyone treat me any differently from anybody else,” he said.

“I do anything in the call room like carry out athletes, marshal athletes, check off names, and do every little thing that is there that needs to be done.”

McDonald said volunteering in sports is his way of giving back to Jamaica.