Herbert Henry McKenley – A Great Jamaican

I have been meaning to write this post for almost two weeks now but my internet connection problems, pre-Christmas workload and my coverage of the death at the calarlions.com blog has caused me to delay it. When I started the Calabar Lions blog for my old high school a few weeks ago I never dreamed that I would be blogging about the death of Herb McKenley.

more images at detailed news coverage at calabarlions.com

Herbert Henry McKenley was a great Jamaican and a hero to me and many other persons who thought highly of a man who has achieved so much during is long life. “Hustling Heb” as he was known by his teammates during is athletics career is still the only athlete to have reached an Olympic track final in all three of the classic sprint events, 100, 200 and 400 meters. Herb and his teammates literally put Jamaica on the track and field map in 1952 with 5 medals (2 gold and 3 silver), of those 5 medals Herb walked away with two individual medals in the 100m and 400m as well as a team medal in the 4×400 meters. Herb went on to serve the people of Jamaica well throughout the remainder of his life in the sport related field, coaching various teams including the national team, he even tried his hand at politics.

Herb (right) in 1952

3 medals, each with a lesson

All of the 3 medals he won at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games have a story behind them � his 100m silver medal he won in a race where the top 4 runners ran the same time 10.4 seconds and were separated by officials in a pre-digital world had to use a set square to separate the top four runners. His 400m medal had him clipped at the last minute by his teammate George Rhoden after doing his best to separate himself from the field all throughout the race. His 4×400 medal had up almost single handedly winning the gold in one of the greatest 400 meter relay legs in history.

1952 Helsinki Olympic Games 100m final video

My Personal Memory of Herb

During my years at Calabar High School I was fortunate to have seen and been close to the great Herb a couple times, although we never exchanged words. He had a aura of greatness that surrounded him and his presence commanded respect, the sight of his green Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV making frequent trips in and out of the Calabar High School campus is a memory I have now grown fond of.

It was good to see at least two other Jamaican bloggers (Leon and Gordon) post about the passing of a true Jamaican icon.




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