History-making Olympian Deon Hemmings-McCatty to be honoured 50 Days Afire book launch

By Sports Desk November 02, 2022
Deon Hemmings won the 400m hurdles at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games becoming the first woman from Jamaica or the Caribbean to win Olympic gold. Deon Hemmings won the 400m hurdles at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games becoming the first woman from Jamaica or the Caribbean to win Olympic gold.

Deon Hemmings-McCatty,  the first Jamaican woman to win an Olympic gold medal, is to be honoured for her impact on local athletics and inspiration to young athletes, at Thursday’s launch of  50 Days Afire, a book chronicling impactful events in Jamaica’s track and field at GC Foster College in St Catherine.

A documentary 'Finding Foster: The Search for Jamaica’s Lost Sprint Hero' will also be a feature at the launch of the seminal publication by publisher Michael A. Grant and track and field writer, commentator and historian Hubert Lawrence.

I can’t say no,” the history making Olympian said in accepting her invitation to the event, “I will be there.”

The special award was initiated by local gaming brand AnyBet, the title sponsor of the book, film and  event. Grants for research and production were also provided by NCB Capital Markets, Sherwin-Williams, Sports Development Foundation and Tastee Ltd., while other sponsorship was provided by GC Foster College, Supreme Outdoor Advertising, TrackAlerts.com and WISYNCO Ltd.

Fifty Days Afire, is the third collaboration between Grant and Lawrence. It chronicles the 50 most significant performances by Jamaican athletes over 115 years of competition, beginning with GC Foster’s exploits in the United Kingdom in 1908.

In addition to never-before-seen photographs of Foster as an athlete and pictures representing all the featured races, the book addresses issues of class, nationalism and Jamaica’s love of sprinting, while discussing reasons for the growing dominance of the island’s athletes on the world stage. Readers will learn how influential those 50 races have been to the overall development of the sport, even though they do not all feature victories or records.

'Finding Foster' is Grant’s  brainchild. He uncovered important information and photographs of Jamaican pioneering sprinter and coach Gerald Claude “GC” Foster while conducting research for the book.

With a run-time of 30 minutes, the production features analysis by Lawrence and sports broadcaster Kayon Raynor and follows Foster on his quest to compete at the 1908 London Olympics, travelling alone on his own funds.

With the help of British coach Harry Andrews, Foster was able to turn his failed bid at Olympic glory into a spectacular three-month tour of Great Britain in which he competed prodigiously, beating the British champion and other Olympians in several meets.

While there, Foster became a favourite of the British sporting press and often addressed adoring crowds following his races.

In addition to honouring Hemmings, there will also be the unveiling of a portrait of Foster as a young athlete. The authors will also read from as well as sign books on sale at the venue.

 

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