Sport

50 years at Penns— Remembering KC’s pace-setting heroics at annual Relay Carnival

BY HOWARD WALKER Observer Senior Reporter walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, April 27, 2014    

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THE pioneering 1964 Kingston College (KC) team that paved the way for Jamaica's high schools' participation at the prestigious Penn Relays will be honoured by the Puma Fortis 5K in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the exploits.

Rick Case, chairman of the Puma Fortis 5K, said the entire contingent, inclusive of the great Herb McKenley, Eli Matalon, Douglas Forrest, William Youngster Goldsmith and coach Donovan Davis, will be recognised, as well as six athletes: -- Dr Lennox Miller, Dr Tony Keyes, Jimmy Grant, Rupert Hoilette, Alex McDonald and Lennox Tulloch.

Ronnie Chin, a KC past student, remembered the trials and tribulations the team went through to participate before eventually opening the doors for other teams from Jamaica.

The graduate of the centre for the media arts at the Germaine School of photography, New York, created a 50th Anniversary Poster for those who entered into unchartered territory and brought KC and, by extension, Jamaica glory.

"The iconic image of Lennox Miller at our first Penn Relays grabbing his right leg in pain at the tape to win our first Championship of America 4x110 yards relay (High School Division) defines our motto more than all the words that have been written about us. Our history is of struggles, pain and glory," said Chin.

"That iconic image was my inspiration and is the centrepiece of the poster. The names on the top of the poster are the team members, coach and trainer. The names on the bottom are the people who made significant contributions to the journey," he noted.

The journey to the Penn relays was not an easy one as Herb McKenley, the then government supervisor of athletics, had tried two times before to get a Jamaican team to the Relays. In 1962 his effort with St George's College's 4x110 yards team failed and the following year, his application for KC on short notice was denied.

However, in 1964, and after several tense months and with the help of Ken Doherty, director of the Penn Relays, KC's application was successful and a team of six athletes departed for that historic journey.

"Kingston College, identified as Kingston College High School, arrived at the Penn Relays as favourites in the 440 yards relay and strong contenders in the 4x110 yards relay.

"On April 24, 1964 KC's quartet of Jimmy Grant, Rupert Hoilette, Tony Keyes and Lennox Miller recorded a time of 42.6 seconds in the heats of the 4x110 yards relay (Championship of Americas, High School Division). This was equalled in another heat by New Rochelle and was the fastest time recorded in the heats," Chin recalled.

"On that Saturday, April 25, 1964 the temperature was in the low forties just before the start of the final of the 4x110 yards relay. Coach Davis gathered his team's sweat suits and hurriedly made his way into the stands to witness his boys sprint into the annals of history.

"Kingston College lead-off runner Jimmy Grant handed the baton off to Rupert Hoilette in fifth position; Hoilette made up some ground before passing the baton to Tony Keyes in fourth position; Keyes ran an unbelievable third leg giving KC the lead for the first time. Anchor Lennox Miller had a comfortable lead and history was in the making, but with some yards to go, Miller grabbed his right leg and with Huntington of Virginia closing in fast, Miller fought off the pain and placed Kingston College into history with 42.7 seconds," he noted.

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