Saluting the terrific 'Teddy' McCook
Easily the most outstanding athletics administrator of this generation, Mr Neville 'Teddy' McCook has left Jamaica a legacy for every citizen to cherish.
This newspaper, like the rest of Jamaica, joins in saluting a truly remarkable man who always found the time, resources and knowledge to give the sport of his choice prominence.
Some would even say that he jumped the gun at times in his quest to improve athletics, for he was intolerant of mediocrity and always had the guts to clear the track of any extraneous matter that stood in the way of progress.
Mr McCook, 73, died on Monday, February 11, after battling prostate cancer for over 10 years, and in later months, diverticulitis. The service of thanksgiving for his life tomorrow, appropriately at St Augustine's Chapel on Kingston College's North Street campus, will serve as the climax of a life that was well spent engineering Jamaica's track and field progress and plotting its graph.
Few would dispute the view that Mr McCook should take not just a bow, but overwhelming credit for the revolution of Jamaica's track and field programme. He served as president of the then Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association for 12 years, from 1984 to 1996, and at the highest level of athletic administration, Mr McCook acted as a council member of the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF).
Regionally too, he was a tower of strength, heading the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC).
This marketing consultant was one of a kind. He was a man who was incorruptible — one who often insisted, to the core, that even the application of discretion often led to corruption.
As general secretary of the Jamaica Olympic Association, Mr McCook was entrusted with the job of running the engine room of the organisation and co-ordinating activities of the 32 affiliate sporting associations.
Of all the organisations and institutions that will miss him though, is his alma mater, Kingston College, the 87-year-old high school for boys which he represented at track and field and Manning Cup football during the 1950s.
Few old boys have contributed more to KC than Mr McCook, and even while close to his death and suffering great pain he was still making enquiries about ways in which he could reach out to 'the college'. That was a clear show and tell of who the man really was, and a gritty demonstration of the school's motto: 'Fortis Cadere Cedere Non Potest' (The Brave May Fall But Never Yield).
It was fitting of the Jamaica Government to have conferred two national honours on this giant of a man, though he was small in physical stature. The Order of Distinction (Commander Class), which he received for services to sport in 1987, and the Order of Jamaica in 2006, also for services to sport, bear true testament of the work of Mr McCook.
We grieve with his widow, Mrs Sonia McCook; daughters Deby, Nikki, Peta, and Angie, his five grandchildren, his remaining siblings, and the thousands of mourners inside and outside Jamaica, over the loss of yet another outstanding son of the soil.
We hope that those charged to oversee Jamaica's athletics programme will forever recognise the contribution and work of Mr McCook. We also hope that he will be fittingly honoured by the organisation to which he brought considerable success.