La Habana CUB - 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 and in Havana on Saturday.
Sprinters Leslie Laing, Dr Lennox Miller and sprint hurdler Keith Gardner were honored by CACAC president and IAAF Coaches Commission chairman Víctor López, who also awarded Pablo Montes, Hermes Ramírez, Juan Morales, Violeta Quesada, Miguelina Cobián, the late Marlene Elejalde, Carmen Laura Valdés y Fulgencia Romay, all Olympic medallists.
López delivered the CAC Hall of Fame plaque to Lázaro Betancourt as administrator.
Laing, 81, represented Jamaica at its first two Olympic Games (1948 and 1952) was part of the 4x400m relay team, together with Arthur Wint, Herb McKenley and George Rhoden, who won gold medal and broke the world record with 3:03.9 minutes. That’s the only 4x400m relay record not held by Americans.
"Winning the gold medal is something I cannot describe because it was so fulfilling," the 81 year-old Laing said. "But this (being inducted) also accomplished the same measure of delight and I will relish this and treasure the award for as long as life permits”, said Laing, who also reached the 200m finals at both the 1948 and 1952 Olympic Games.
Dr. Miller, who died of cancer last year, won a silver and bronze in the 100 metres at two consecutive Olympic Games (1968 and 1972).
As his daughter Inger won a sprint relay gold representing the US at the 1996 Games, they are the only father-daughter combination to win Olympic medals in track and field.
Lennox Miller’s wife Avril Miller travelled from the US to receive the award on behalf of her late husband.
Gardner 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 in Rome. He was fifth at the 110m hurdles at the 1960 Games.
He added the 110m hurdles silver and the Long Jump bronze to his pedigree at the 1954 Central American and Caribbean Games in Mexico City. He also clinched the sprint hurdles title at the 1954 and 1958 Commonwealth Games.
Laing, Gardner and Miller joined 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 November 2003.
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 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.
Several generations of Cuban athletics met at the Hotel Nacional in Havana to honor the first Cuban Olympic medallists, who paved the way for today’s success.
“We have been asked several times why we have established the Hall of Fame. We want to honor those to sacrifice themselves every day in sports. Our athletes come from poor countries with many difficulties”, said Lopez, who greeted the Cuban family on behalf of IAAF president Lamine Diack.
“Our athletes represent our peoples. Cuba represents Latin America. You have been a role model for all our countries. That’s why we want to preserve history. History is not repeated. What Juantorena and the relay teams of the 60´s and 70´s will not be repeated”, he added.
On the behalf of the new inductees, Hermes Ramirez stated that “it will be an unforgettable day for this group of former athletes who one day had the honor of representing Cuba and the Central American and Caribbean region”.
“Athletics united us like a family, in which we have enjoyed success but also made mistakes, but always uniting our will and our hearts to aim at sports excellence”.
Cuban Athletics Federation president and IAAF Council member Alberto Juantorena highlighted that Cuban athletics is respected and loved for its quality and results. “I know my comrades and I am sure they will share this award with those who have contributed to the success of Cuban athletics”.
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.
Various top Cuban athletes like Yipsi Moreno, Zulia Calatayud, Víctor Moya, Yoandri Betanzos, Yargelis Savigne, Sonia Bisset, Anier García, Yoelbi Quesada and Iván Pedroso were also present to honor the past generation.
Cuban Minister of Public Health José Ramón Balaguer, Cuban Sports Vice Minister Angel Iglesias and more than 20 World and Olympic medallists attended the ceremony, followed by a banquet entertained by former triple jumper and Cuban jazz star Bobby Carcacés.
The Cuban athletics family celebrated the induction in the year of 100th anniversary of the first official track and field meet ever held on the Island.
Trinidad & Tobago
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 January 7, 2006.
CAC Athletes of the Year
In the same ceremony in Havana, Víctor López awarded Dionisio Quintana as the CAC Coach of the Year.
Quintana also received the CAC Female Athlete of the Year on behalf of his pupil, Javelin world record holder Osleidys Menéndez, who is currently in Argentina.
In Kingston, he had also presented 100m world record holder Asafa Powell with the CACAC Male Athlete of the Year trophy.