Neither rain nor the early Thursday start could deter the hundreds of sports fans and students who filled the auditorium of the GC Foster College to witness the premiere of the GC Foster documentary film, “Finding Foster:
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The Search for Jamaica’s Lost Sprint Hero” on Thursday, November 3. Guests were also treated to the launch of a new book on Jamaican athletics, Fifty Days Afire: Inside Jamaica’s Long Sprint to Freedom, made their local debuts.
In addition to the premier of the film about sprinter GC Foster and the book about Jamaica’s fifty greatest sprint performances, the college welcomed the installation of the official portrait of G.C. Foster, “Athlete, Teacher, Coach” in the foyer of the gymnasium. On hand for the unveiling were Foster’s three granddaughters, Heather Chinn, Debbie Jardine and Andrea Roberts. A fourth, Diane Shaw, who wrote a biography about Foster and was on hand for an unveiling of the Foster bust on the campus grounds, died in August of this year.
Foster, a native of Spanish Town, sailed to Bristol, England in 1908 hoping to gain entry at that year’s London Olympic Games. Though he was entered in the British AAA trials, there is no record that he competed, and since Jamaica had no Olympic association at the time, he did not face the starter. He was, however, able to race many of the men who did, winning most of his contests with them, including several over John “Jack” William Morton, the four-time British champion who won his national titles in the same years Foster had done in Jamaica.
The 30-minute production focuses on the research done on Foster for the first chapter of Fifty Days Afire. Fire, say the authors Michael A. Grant and Hubert Lawrence, refers to the speed, ambition and tenacity of sprinters who have braved hardships and scaled the heights of sporting glory over more than a century.
Throughout more than 300 pages, the book delves into the details of and atmosphere surrounding the fifty featured events, such as Dennis Johnson’s matching of the world 100-yard record six times in the summer of 1961; Marilyn Neufville’s two 400-meter world records (indoor and outdoor) set in 1970; the electrifying duels between Don Quarrie and the USA’s Steve Williams, as well as Bert Cameron’s legendary and courageous 400-meter run at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Fifty Days Afire also includes photographs representing every one of the fifty events.
Following readings from the book by the authors, Supreme Ventures Executive Chairman Gary Peart presented 1996 Olympic gold medallist Deon Hemmings-McCatty, Jamaica’s first such female champion, with a citation honoring her breakthrough achievement. Hemmings-McCatty thanked the event’s title sponsors AnyBet, the college “for its outstanding work with Jamaica’s coaches and PE teachers” as well as the authors “for immortalizing us athletes.”
Fifty Days Afire, which has been endorsed by the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) and the Sports Development Foundation (SDF) is available at leading bookstores such as Kingston Bookshop as well as Urban Books & Publishers, Totally Male Club Spa & Salon, the bookstore at the Norman Manley International Airport, All Wrapped Up (in gift packages) and GC Foster College Library. The book is also available in print and ebook versions at www.kingstoncomm.com.