November 27, 2007 / 6:18 AM / 11 years ago

Jamaican Olympic champion McKenley dies aged 85

KINGSTON (Reuters) - Former Olympic champion and Jamaican athletics administrator Herb McKenley has died aged 85, his family said on Monday.

Hospital officials said that McKenley had been hospitalized for two weeks, but did not give the cause of death.

McKenley was a member of the Jamaica quartet that won gold in the 4x400 meters relay at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki. He also won silver in the 400m, behind compatriot Arthur Wint, and in the 100m behind American Lindy Remigino.

The three medals in Helsinki added to the silver he had won in the 400m at the 1948 London Olympics. McKenley had been the world record holder for the distance with a time of 45.9 seconds.

“The death of Herb McKenley is a tremendous blow to Jamaica,” sports minister Olivia Grange said in a statement. “He served this country with distinction both as an athlete and as an administrator and he will be sadly missed.”

McKenley coached the Jamaica team from 1954 to 1973 upon his retirement and assisted numerous Jamaican athletes to gain scholarships at various colleges in the United States.

He served as president of Jamaica’s Amateur Athletic Association for 12 years and was also a member of various committees of the International Amateur Athletic Federation, now the International Association of Athletic Federations.

Jamaica Olympic Association president Mike Fennell said McKenley’s death was a sad day for the country.

“There is hardly anyone who would have done more for the development of Jamaica’s athletics,” Fennell told Reuters.

“Herb’s death has come as a great shock and we will do everything to preserve his memory,”

Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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