8 Champs Icons Of The Past

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Una Morris then and now

Lennox Miller – Another KC star, Miller stamped his class on Champs by winning the class 1 sprint double three years in a row, from 1963-65. He ran the anchor leg for Jamaica’s 4x100m relay team, which broke the world record twice at the 1968 Olympics (38.65 and 38.39 seconds in the heats and semis, respectively). The team could only manage fourth place in the finals, but he left Mexico City with a silver medal in the 100m. Four years later, he would win bronze in the same event. His daughter Inger (USA) is also an Olympic medallist, making them the first father/daughter duo to win Olympic medals. Miller passed away in 2004 at the age of 58.

Beverly McDonald – Inspired by Merlene Ottey, McDonald became one of the biggest Champs star for Vere Technical High School during their 15-year stranglehold on the trophy. Her class 3 100m and 200m records were ahead of their time. In 1986, her class 2 double proved the key to holding off the strong St Jago team. That year at the CARIFTA Games, she clocked 23.90 seconds in the 200m, becoming the first under-17 athlete to do a sub-24 seconds time. Although she didn’t win the class 1 double, losing the 100m to St Jago’s Michelle Freeman, she became the first Jamaican, male or female, to reach a World Junior Championships 100m final.

McDonald helped Jamaica to victory in the 4x100m relays at the 1991 Pan-Am Games and the World Championships. The team of McDonald, Ottey, Dahlia Duhaney and Juliet Cuthbert set a national record of 41.94 seconds that stood for 13 years. In the ensuing years, she added the 1997 World Champs 4x100m silver (with Cuthbert, Merlene Frazer and Beverly Grant), CAC 200m gold, 1999 World Champs silver, 2000 Olympics 200m bronze and 4x100m silver (with Tayna Lawrence, Veronica Campbell and Ottey) to her collection. Her biggest moment came in 2004 when she utilized her curve-running skills to help Jamaica win the 4x100m gold. Unfortunately, her legacy has been tainted by an implicated as a steroid user by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) at an arbitration hearing held for her husband, former Jamaica Olympian, Raymond Stewart.

Una Morris – Nicknamed ‘Legs’ by none other than National Hero Sir Alexander Bustamante, Morris used those long limbs to carve out a successful Champs career and become the most outstanding female sprinter in the pre-metrics era. She had a difficult childhood, losing her mother at the age of 10 and skipping from school to school between St Elizabeth and St James for three years. Her academics suffered, but her love for running would soon be her salvation. After convincing her strict father to send her back to Kingston, she first met Eileen Sutherland, a Jamaican javelin record holder who would become her mentor and mother figure. Bustamante saw her run at the Elletson Road Police Depot meet and was so impressed, he demanded to meet her. They developed a lasting bond and he had her enrolled at Kingston Technical High School.

She arrived at Girls’ Champs in 1964 and immediately stamped her class on the proceedings in the 110m and 220m events. Her time in the latter became not just a Champs record but the national mark. She made the Olympic team and placed fourth in the 200m final. The following year, she added the 80m hurdles to her resume and continued her dominance, setting new records in each. Now Dr Una Morris-Chong, she was named Sportswoman of the Year for 1964 and 1965, In 2001, she was honoured by the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA).

Jacqueline Pusey – Hailing from Islington, the ‘lady locomotive’ helped St Mary High School to back-to-back Girls’ Champs victories in 1976 and 77. She began her athletics training with the late Douglas Clarke of the Green Archers Youth Club as a child and had her first taste of international success at the 1974 Junior CAC Games as a member of the winning 4x400m team. She also clocked 23 seconds flat hand timed at a 1975 meet in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

By the time Pusey really arrived on the Champs scene in 1976, she was already the rising star of Jamaican sprinting. She won the class 2 100m/200m double in record times. Her 12.0 seconds in the 100m equalled the class 1 record and her 23.9 in the 200m was faster than the class 1 time. She made the Olympic team that year, making the 200m semi-finals and anchoring the 4x100m relay team to sixth place.

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Source: Champs 100: A Century of Jamaican High School Athletics 1910-2010 by Hubert Lawrence