When the Diaspora gathers on Thursday, April 17, in the auditorium of St. Francis College, it will be to mark a historic milestone with Team Jamaica Bickle (TJB)—20 years of unbroken service to Jamaica’s athletes at the Penn Relays; a program expanded overtime to include its Caribbean counterparts. They will also be paying tribute to one of the island’s most prolific sprinter and track and field legend, Dr. Dennis ‘DJ’ Johnson, CD. Johnson will also use the occasion to launch the Dennis Johnson Foundation.
According to TJB, honoring Dennis Johnson “is long overdue.” Johnson is a legend both on and off the track. As a young athlete he drew wide acclaim at San Jose State University. His exploits on the track helped to coin the phrase ‘Speed City,’ used to describe the University. He equaled the world record of 9.3 seconds in the 100 yards four times in 1961, and still holds the world record in the 110 yards. He has represented Jamaica as an athlete and a coach for several decades and is sought after worldwide for his expertise.
Johnson’s coach, Bud Winter, is said to have invented the science of sprinting. After San Jose, Johnson returned to Jamaica armed with that knowledge and with Winters’ help, laid the groundwork to what is now Jamaica’s very successful track program. He wrote the syllabi for the first school of sports sciences in the Caribbean with a Baccalaureate program which began in 2010 at the University of Technology (UTECH).
The school will have its first graduands this summer. Since 1971 Johnson has served in various capacities at UTECH: as Chairman, Sport Advisory Council through 2013; and as Adjunct Associate Professor of Sport Science, Director of Sports and headed Special Projects for Intercollegiate Sports. Johnson is also the founder of the Inter-Collegiate sports competition.
TJB’s long history of recognizing track and field icons fits neatly with its mission. Twenty years later, with millions of dollars spent they are happy with the initiative.
“It is indeed gratifying to have made a positive impact on our youth and to recognize someone like Johnson whose life-work is just that!” said irwine Clare, Snr. TJB’s Founder and CEO.
Vincent HoSang reflecting on his 36 years in business, regrets that Clare did not call him then, “It’s a delight to give back,” he said, “considering where we started, (in a small camper), I can only say thanks to my customers, workers and my family, their support makes it possible.”
Sponsors for this year’s program are, founding partner, Caribbean Food Delights, Western Union, Grace Kennedy, Grace Kennedy Remittance Services, Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), Trans Continental Shipping, Dennis Shipping, Tower Isles, Union of Jamaica Alumni Association (UJAA), Superwings, The Door Restaurant, Irie Jam Media and Young Friends of Team Jamaica Bickle. Print partner is the Jamaica Observer.