KINGSTON, Jamaica – The international track and field fraternity was in mourning after Jamaican-born Olympian Germaine Mason was killed in a motorcycle crash earlier Thursday.
Police reported that the athlete, who switched allegiance to represent Great Britain in 2006 and won silver in the high jump at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, crashed along the Palisadoes main road that leads to the Norman Manley International Airport in the country’s capital.
The Jamaica Constabulary Force confirmed Mason’s death on its Twitter page.
“Germaine Mason, 34, Jamaican-born athlete and former national high jumper, died in a motorcycle crash this morning,” the JCF tweeted.
Shortly after news broke, Prime Minister Andrew Holness tweeted : “Our sincere condolences to the entire sporting fraternity.”
Mason set a Jamaican record of 2.34 metres to win gold for the island at the Pan American Games in 2003 and took bronze at the World Indoor Championships the following year.
Eligible to represent Britain because his father David was born in London, he switched allegiance two years before the Beijing Olympics, where he then finished behind Russian Andrey Silnov.
British hepthathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill, the 2012 Olympic and three-time World champion, tweeted her condolences: “This is just awful. Such sad news.”
Former World and Olympic sprint champion, Linford Christie, who was also born in Jamaica before representing Britain tweeted: “Heart goes out to friends and family of Germaine Mason on this sad day.. R I P Germaine. Never forgotten.”
Niels de Vos, chief executive of UK Athletics – the governing body for the sport in Great Britain – said it was a sad time for the country.
“Our staff and colleagues who worked with Germaine are naturally saddened to hear this awful news,” he said in a statement. “Our deepest sympathies go to Germaine’s friends, family and the athletics community at this difficult time.”
High jump coach Fuzz Caan who worked closely with Mason at the time of the 2008 Olympics, hailed his contribution to the sport.
“Germaine was an outstanding athlete and a truly lovely man. He had a wry sense of humour and was a pleasure to be around,” Caan said.
“He was a great ambassador of British high jumping. It is an honour for us to have him as part of our sporting history.”