UTech track house named in Johnson's honour

Paul Burrowes

Friday, July 20, 2012    

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PIONEERING former director of sports of the University of Technology (UTech), Dennis Johnson, will soon have a Hall of Residence named after him.

This was announced at a launch Wednesday at the back field at UTech.

The Dennis Johnson Hall of Residence, estimated to cost some $80 million, will replace the Track House which has been the residence of student athletes since 1973.

UTech president, Professor Errol Morrison, described Dr Johnson as the "hero of UTech and hero of track & field" whose tenacity superseded the naysayers who scoffed at his belief of producing world-class athletes right here in Jamaica.

The Track House, which currently holds 25 student-athletes, will soon be able to house at least 75 when it becomes the Dennis Johnson Hall of Residence, according to Dr Colin Gyles, Dean, Faculty of Science & Sport.

"We will be able to do even better and produce world-beaters in greater numbers," added Gyles, referring to athletes such as Asafa Powell and Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

Meanwhile Mark Ricketts, who also spoke at the launch, said Johnson, sports director from 1971 to 2006, believed anyone could be taught to sprint with high knee lifts and stride extension.

In an effort to expose his athletes to world-class conditions, he recalled a story when Johnson's athletes climbed the fence at the National Stadium in the 1970s to train and left before security turned up in the morning.

Minister without Portfolio with responsible for Sports, Natalie Neita-Headley, underlined the theme of the launch by stating that Johnson's "sports programme at UTech produced a cadre of athletes who have trained locally and achieved world-class acclaim".

She insisted that DJ, as he is affectionately called, made Jamaica the home of world-class champions and his influence played a major role in sports development.

Neita-Headley noted that the home of student-athletes "has moved from Track House to Hall of Residence" and she was delighted that Johnson was being honoured while he was "alive, well, fit and able to see and hear".

Johnso described the occasion as a "wonderful moment", citing UTech heads Dr Alfred Sangster, Dr Rae Davis, and currently, Professor Morrison, who would make Hall of Residence a reality.



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