Many-time national 400-metre hurdles champion Deon Hemmings-McCatty, OD, CD, OLY – the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal for Jamaica – is to be honoured for her impact on local athletics and inspiration to young athletes. The occasion is the launch of a new film and book about the sport on Thursday, November 3 at GC Foster College starting at 4:00 pm.
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The event will feature the local premiere of the documentary film, “Finding Foster: The Search for Jamaica’s Lost Sprint Hero” and the launch of the new book, Fifty Days Afire: Inside Jamaica’s Long Sprint to Freedom by Michael A. Grant and Hubert Lawrence.
“Finding Foster” is the brainchild of Grant, who uncovered important information and photographs of Jamaican pioneering sprinter and coach Gerald Claude “GC” Foster while conducting research for the book. With a runtime of thirty 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.
Fifty Days Afire, the third athletics collaboration between Grant and leading athletics analyst Lawrence, chronicles the fifty most significant performances by Jamaican athletes over 115 years of competition, beginning with GC Foster’s exploits in the UK 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. Track fans will witness how influential the fifty races have been to the overall development of the sport, even though they do not all feature victories or records.
“I can’t say no,” Mrs. Hemmings-McCatty 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 launch 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.
In addition to the Hemmings presentation, the event at GC Foster will also feature the unveiling of a portrait of Foster as a young athlete, and the authors will read from as well as sign books on sale at the venue. MC for the event is MVP Club president, Bruce James.