05 NOV 2005 General News

CACAC Hall of Fame and Athletes of the Year ceremonies

Leslie Laing and Keith Gardner at the CAC Hall of Fame ceremony (Paul Burrowes)Leslie Laing and Keith Gardner at the CAC Hall of Fame ceremony (Paul Burrowes) © Copyright

Three Jamaican and nine Cuban stars were inducted into the Central American and Caribbean Confederation (CACAC) Hall of Fame, in two separate ceremonies held in Kingston on Thursday (3) and in Havana on Saturday (5).

On the same occasions, Asafa Powell (JAM) and Osleidys Menendez (CUB) were presented with their CAC Athletes of the Year Awards by CACAC President and IAAF Coaches’ Commission Chairman Víctor López.

The 25-year-old Powell became the world's fastest man when he clocked 9.77 in Athens, Greece, on 14 June.

Menéndez, won the women's World Javelin Throw title improving her World record at the same time to 71.70m. She is currently in Argentina and so her award was received by her coach Dionisio Quintana, who was himself presented with an award as CAC Coach of the Year.

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Three outstanding Jamaicans inducted

Kingston, Jamaica - Three outstanding Jamaican track and field athletes, sprinters Leslie Laing, Dr Lennox Miller (posthumously) and the versatile sprint hurdler Keith Gardner were inducted into the Central American and Caribbean Confederation Hall of Fame at an awards ceremony held at the Hilton Hotel, Kingston, Jamaica on Thursday (3).

They join Grace Jackson, Herb McKenley, Dr Arthur Wint, Donald Quarrie, Dr George Rhoden, Dr Herb Elliott, and Richard Ashensheim, who were inducted in the inaugural Hall of Fame ceremony in 2003.

Laing, represented Jamaica at its first twoOlympic Games - 1948 and 1952 - and made history in the 1952 Olympics, when he, along with Arthur Wint, Herb McKenley and George Rhoden won the 4x400m gold medal and broke the World record. A graduate of Fresno State College in the USA, Laing reached the 200m finals at both the 1948 and 1952 Olympic Games, finishing fifth and sixth, respectively. He also won the 100m silver and 200m gold at the 1954 Central American and Caribbean Games. Married to Carmen Phipps, a high jump finalist for Jamaica in 1948, Laing was awarded the rank of Officer of the Order of Distinction.

Miller, won a silver and bronze in the 100 metres at consecutive Olympic Games (1968 and 1972), and when his daughter Inger won a sprint relay gold at the 1996 Games, the pair became the only father-daughter combination to win Olympic medals in track and field. At the University of Southern California (USC), he ran the anchor leg that set the world record in the 4x110-yard relay (which included OJ Simpson) and along with Erroll Stewart, Michael Fray and Clifton Forbes, equalled and set the World record on the same day. He lost his battle with cancer last year.

Gardner, ‘Mr Versatile’, competed in two Olympic Games as a member of the British West Indies team. He sustained groin injury at the 1956 Games and won a 4x400m bronze at the 1960 Games, which included George Kerr.  He was fifth at the 110m Hurdles at the 1960 Games. His versatility was evident at the 1954 Central American and Caribbean Games in Mexico City when he won medals in the 110m hurdles (silver) and long jump (bronze), and was Commonwealth Games champion in the 110m hurdles that same year. In the 1958 Commonwealth Games he won gold in the 100 yards, silver in the 220 yards, and successfully defended his 110m Hurdles crown.  He was also a member of the 4x440-yard bronze medal team.

Paul Burrowes of the Jamaica Observer for the IAAF

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Nine Cuban stars also inducted

Nine Cuban stars were inducted into the Central American and Caribbean Confederation (CACAC) Hall of Fame, in a separate ceremony held in Havana on Saturday (5 Nov).

Those honoured were Pablo Montes, Hermes Ramírez, Juan Morales, Violeta Quesada, Miguelina Cobián, the late Marlene Elejalde, Carmen Laura Valdés and Fulgencia Romay, all Olympic medallists, and Lázaro Betancourt.

Ramírez, Morales, Montes and Enrique Figuerola (inducted in 2003), clinched the 4x100m silver medal at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. On the same day, October 20, Elejalde, Romay, Quesada and Cobián also claimed the women's 4x100m relay silver, the first Olympic medal ever achieved by Cuban women.

Four years later, Elejalde, Romay, Silvia Chivás and Valdés won the relay bronze at the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

Hilda Díaz, Elejalde´s mother, received the award on behalf of her daughter, who died in a car accident in 1989.

The new inductees join Juantorena, Figuerola, Silvia Chivás, Silvio Leonard, Maria Caridad Colon, Ana Fidelia Quirot, first CACAC president Richard Pérez and IAAF Technical Committee member Jesús Molina, who were inducted in 2003.

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Trinidad and Tobago’s 1976 Olympic 100m champion Hasely Crawford and 1964 Olympic 4x400m and 200m bronze medallist Edwin Roberts will be inducted into the CAC Hall of Fame, in a ceremony to be held in Port of Spain, on 7 January, 2006.

Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF