McKenley unveiled amidst national celebrations
A new marble headstone marking the burial site of track and field legend Herb McKenley was unveiled by athletes and dignitaries at National Heroes' Park yesterday as official events to mark Jamaica's performance at the 2012 Olympic Games continued.
The monument, which was installed last week, was unveiled by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, former Prime Minister PJ Patterson and Olympians Samantha Henry Robinson and Alia Atkinson.
The headstone was a replacement for one laid following McKenley's death in 2007 and is reportedly spearheaded by the Calabar High School fraternity — McKenley's alma mater which he coached for many years.
Meanwhile, athletes laid wreaths at the monuments honouring the seven national heroes — Veronica Campbell-Brown at Marcus Garvey's; Usain Bolt at Norman Manley's; Kerron Stewart as Alexander Bustamante's; Samantha Albert at Nanny of the Maroons'; Alia Atkinson at Paul Bogle's; Sylvia Grant at George William Gordon's, and Michael Frater at Sam Sharpe's.
"Not only a legend in his time, but a legend for all times", is how Patterson, who read the citation, described McKenley.
McKenley was one of Jamaica's first international athletic stars, having competed in the country's first foray at the Olympic Games in 1948.
Though he never won an individual Olympic gold medal, he was a member of the victorious 4x400m Jamaican quartet at the 1952 Games in Helsinki, Finland.
McKenley was instrumental in introducing local high schools to the Penn Relay Carnival in the United States where Jamaicans are now among the main attractions. He was a former president of the then Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association (JAAA).
Minister without Portfolio with Responsibility for Sport, Natalie Neita-Headley, told the Jamaica Observer she was pleased with the tone of the celebrations so far.
"I'm quite pleased with how things have gone. I'm elated that so many of the athletes have actually come and I think there could not have been a more befitting day to have done this for the athletes," she said.