Olympians Association of Jamaica honours its own at special awards function

By Dwayne Richards
Observer writer

Monday, June 25, 2018

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Five servants of Jamaica's track and field were honoured at a special function dubbed 'From Beneficiaries to Benefactors' at the Alhambra Inn last Monday night.

The event, which was organised by the Olympians Association of Jamaica, saw Dr Una Morris, MD; Raymond Harvey OD; Carol Cuffley; Michael Vassell; and Julian Robinson all being cited for their contributions to the sport in Jamaica.

Una Morris, who is a three-time Olympian and the main sponsor for the event since 2015, was ill and unable to attend. During her athletic career she represented the country at three consecutive Olympic Games — Tokyo, Japan in 1964, Mexico City, Mexico in 1968, and Munich, Germany in 1972.

Also included in her achievements for the country are her gold medal performances in the 200m and 4x100m relays at the CAC Games, and her bronze medal performance for Jamaica as a part of the 4x100m relay team at the 1967 Pan American Games.

Ray Harvey first represented Jamaica in 1962 at the Central American and Caribbean Games while still a schoolboy at Kingston College. He became the youngest president of the Jamaica Amateur Athletics Association, now Jamaica Administrative Athletics Association, at just 26 years old and continues to serve the sport.

Harvey competed at the Commonwealth Games and Pan American Games where he earned a silver medal in 1966. That was the same year that he broke the 60-yard low hurdles record, running a time of 6.70 seconds. He currently hosts the Milo Western Relays, one of the best-run track and field meets in the country.

Carol Cuffley, who is a career banker, can also be considered a career volunteer in track and field, particularly in the area of the horizontal jumps (long jump and triple jump). She was an active sportswoman in her younger years, representing The Queen's School at hockey, netball, lawn tennis and track and field. After leaving school she represented Jamaica in both hockey and netball with distinction. She is currently an administrator in swimming while still serving in the jumps area at track and field meets at National Stadium.

Julian Robinson, who has established himself as a leading throws coach at the high school level over the last decade or so at Calabar High, has gone on to extend his reach to the international level. Fedrick Dacres and Traves Smikle, whom he conditioned at Calabar, were first and second, respectively, at the Commonwealth Games in April. This was the first time that Jamaica was winning medals in the discus at this level.

Michael Vassell, who coaches at Excelsior High, began his coaching career at his alma mater Kingston College, where he helped take them out of the Champs wilderness. He also coached at St Hugh's High for Girls and is now in charge at Excelsior High. His contribution to the throws in Jamaica includes the hosting of meets designed specifically for throwers such as Big Shots and King of the Ring.

Shanice Love, who he coached at Excelsior to a Champs record in the Class One discus in 2016, has been a standout discus thrower for Florida State University this year.

The Olympians Association of Jamaica was founded in 2004 for retired and current Olympians. The current president is Vilma Charlton, who ran the 100m at the 1968 Games in Mexico.

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