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Friday, June 25, 2021

Johnson remembered as native athletics pioneer | Sports activities

Dennis Johnson was thought of a pioneer of Jamaica’s athletics on the monitor and likewise as an administrator.

The previous Calabar Excessive College sprinter died aged 81 late Thursday night time after testing constructive for COVID-19.

Because the athletics fraternity learns of his passing, many bear in mind him as a pioneer of sprinting in his personal proper having equalled the 100-yard world file at 9.30 seconds, 3 times in 1961.

Anthony Davis, who labored with Johnson on the College of Know-how (UTech) for a few years, had a smile as he recounted his buddy’s athletics profession.

“One of many tales which have been advised many instances about Dennis was one Boys’ Champs, he ran the 200m with a damaged hand for Calabar,” he recalled. “The night time earlier than the ultimate of the race, he met in a automotive accident and he broke his arm, however the Championship was so shut that if he didn’t run, Calabar couldn’t have received it. So, he determined to run along with his arm in a solid and never solely did he win, however there was a well-liked KC (Kingston Faculty) athlete referred to as Michael Ventura, who your complete KC fraternity was anticipating to win, and as Dennis crossed the road he waved to the KC crowd after which signalled to Ventura as if he was whipping him.”

But it surely was whereas he was a scholar at San Jose State Faculty that Johnson produced a few of his best performances as an athlete as he equalled the 100-yard sprint world file at 9.3 seconds 3 times in 1961.

He achieved the feat first on March 11 on the San Jose State Relays, repeated it simply over a month in a while April 15, after which once more on Could 5.

His sole Olympic look occurred on the Tokyo 1964 Video games, the place as part of Jamaica’s 4x100m workforce, he completed fourth.

Nonetheless, Johnson is equally lauded for his contribution to trendy athletics in Jamaica as his efforts to determine a collegiate athletics programme on the Faculty of Arts, Science and Know-how, now UTech, fostered the concept student-athletes can search larger studying whereas persevering with to develop their athletic skills domestically.

Davis, who succeeded Johnson as director of sports activities at UTech, advised The Gleaner that Johnson needs to be credited for a lot of the Olympic glory Jamaica enjoys immediately as he created the platform on which it was constructed.

“Other than the truth that he began the programme by himself in 1970 and gave vitality to collegiate sports activities in Jamaica, he gave Stephen Francis a platform the place he might kind his MVP Monitor Membership as a result of what occurred was that Stephen was employed as an assistant coach, however as a result of there wasn’t sufficient cash to pay him, part of the deal was that he might use UTech as his coaching base and that’s the place MVP began. Stephen ultimately took over the programme as the top coach and Dennis centered on being an administrator,” Davis recalled.

However his work to mould Jamaica’s athletics into the gem that it’s predates his time at UTech, as former Jamaica Olympic Affiliation President Mike Fennell recalled Johnson travelling the nation selling sports activities.

“I bear in mind him working as a sports activities officer for the Carreras Sports activities Basis,” Fennell shared. “This was simply after he left faculty and got here again house and he did an amazing quantity of labor throughout the island selling sports activities and training. That they had a cell unit which Dennis used to go throughout the island displaying folks the proper working strategies and issues like this.”

Johnson was awarded the Order of Distinction by the Authorities in 2001.

akino.ming@gleanerjm.com

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