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Remembering great Olympians

Published:Sunday | June 24, 2012 | 12:00 AM


It is with regret that I pen this letter to note the passing of Olympians George Kerr and Keith Gardner.

Both men have not only contributed immensely to the global respect for Jamaica's track and field heritage, but were also important in Jamaica's advancement from being part of a regional track and field team (the West Indies) to its dominance in the field as an independent nation.

In fact, I believe that our progress as a nation over the last 50 years is better characterised by our development as a potent force in track and field than in any other area of national development, and these two men were among the pioneers of this success.

1960 Summer Olympics

George Kerr competed in the 400 metres and 800 metres, and twice made the 800m Olympic final. He competed for the British West Indies at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy, where he won the bronze medal in the 800m. He then teamed up with Gardner, Malcolm Spence, and James Wedderburn to win the bronze medal in the 4x400m at the same Games.

I recall that in 1962, Kerr became the first Jamaican athlete to have the national flag flown in recognition of winning gold when he won double gold in the 400m and 800m at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Kingston at the National Stadium, and at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, representing Jamaica, he lost the bronze by less than one-tenth of a second.

Kerr, who suffered a heart attack and underwent heart surgery at the University Hospital of the West Indies on June 4, died two Fridays ago at age 71. Gardner, a sprinter and middle-distance runner and hurdler, died on May 25.

I extend my condolences and profound regrets to their relatives and friends.


Opposition Spokesperson on Sports and Culture