Thu | Jun 4, 2020

Letter of the Day | Time for Deon Hemmings statue

Published:Tuesday | February 18, 2020 | 12:23 AM
Deon Hemmings
Deon Hemmings

THE EDITOR, Madam:

Deon Hemmings is Jamaica’s first female Olympic gold medallist.

Despite the exploits of Merlene Ottey over the years, it wasn’t until Deon burst on to the scene in 1996 that Jamaica won its first Olympic gold medal in the 400m hurdles for women. This was the first time any Jamaican woman was winning a goal medal at the Olympics. Jamaica rose in pandemonium when this feat was achieved!

We were always coming ever so close with Merlene, but it was just not enough with her execution until our darling Deon! We remember the race very vividly as the announcer completely ignored everyone else in the race and kept focusing on the American. Even when Deon was leading off the last curve, all we could hear was “here comes Kim Batten…!” Kim was never able to catch Deon, who went on to win in a new Olympic record time.

Deon’s story started when she went to Vere Technical High School in Clarendon. At Vere, Deon was never a star athlete. She was never offered any scholarship after leaving school, but she had a passion for track and field and she kept it alive by joining the track club in Clarendon, where she began training at the Jamalco Sports Club; there she met Pat Anderson, who became a mentor to her.

She had an uphill battle, bursting on the scene to stardom but that never daunted her, she never gave up until she finally got the opportunity to go overseas and train. It was then that she started her meteoric rise to prominence.

The conventional way for many was not the same for Deon, but through hard work, perseverance and courage, she kept her eyes on the ball. She showed everyone that it can be done, despite the odds. She did it in an era where only Merlene was a sure medallist for Jamaica. Deon paved the way for the flurry of goal medals we now take for granted on the female side of track and field.

Deon followed her brilliant run four years later by winning a silver medal in the 2000 Olympic Games in her pet event. In addition, she was a strong showing on the Jamaican 4x400m relay team, which won a silver medal. Her Olympic record was broken in 2004, eight years later.

Deon has three Olympic medals, three World championship medals, and three World championship medals running on the 4x400m relay teams. She was also a consistent member of Jamaica’s 4x400m relay teams – that’s how good she was.

FIRST will ALWAYS be FIRST

I can’t understand why this young lady was overlooked when the country started framing out sculptures. Our first female Olympic gold medallist ever! This will never change! No one can out do what she did, because first will always be first!

By becoming the first female Olympic gold medallist, her achievement has been cemented in the history books forever. Her accomplishment was later riveted with several other wins on the international level until she retired.

Deon Hemming is more than deserving of any accolades Jamaica wish to bestow on her, but more importantly, she is deserved of this kind of nationalistic sculpture. Madam Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, and to a lesser extent the JAAAs, let it be done! Let us make up for the oversight; it is not too late.

ALBERT WILLIAMS

Avid Sports Fan