McKenley, an Olympic medalist from Jamaica, is dead at 85

Updated: November 26, 2007, 9:17 PM ET
Associated Press

KINGSTON, Jamaica -- Herb McKenley, a Jamaican track legend who was one of the first two people from a Caribbean country to win an Olympic medal, has died. He was 85.

McKenley died at the University Hospital of the West Indies, according to Howard Aris, president of the Jamaica Amateur Athletics Association, who was speaking for the family. The cause of death was not disclosed.

"It's very sad but it was not a complete surprise," Aris said. "I was in contact with him when he was re-admitted to the hospital and was aware he had major problems."

McKenley, considered a sports hero in Jamaica, was the first man to cover the 400 meters in under 46 seconds.

He won silver medals in the 400 meters at the 1948 games in London and in the 100 meters at the 1952 games in Helsinki, Finland.

In 1948, he and fellow Jamaican Arthur Wint -- who took home the gold -- won the first Olympic medals for the Caribbean. McKenley's only gold came in Helsinki, Finland, where he was a member of the Jamaican team that won the 1600-meter relay.

He is survived by his wife, Beverley, and four children.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press