Charlton dedicates Chairman’s Award to McKenley, Gardner
Olympian Vilma Charlton, the recipient of the RJRGLEANER Sports Foundation Chairman’s Award this year, says that she is indebted to the late Herb McKenley and Keith Gardner for the role they played in her success.
Charlton was presented with the award at the RJRGLEANER Sports Foundation Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards ceremony yesterday. The event was held virtually and scaled down from its normal structure because of COVID-19.
This year, no Sportsman or Sportswomen of the Year was named, as well as no awards for individual disciplines and high school awards. Instead, special awards which included the Lifetime Achievement Award and Certificates of Merit were presented during the hour-long broadcast.
Charlton says that she is appreciative of the recognition, noting that the revised format is just among the many hurdles she has had to navigate.
“I’ve always had ups and downs and this is just part of the package,” Charlton told The Gleaner. “So, I’m happy, my family will be happy, and my friends will be happy.”
In her remarks, Charlton said that receiving the Chairman’s Award was a surprise and said it was McKenley who recognised her talent as a 15-year-old at the St Andrew High School for Girls and decided to coach her two days a week. She joined Gardner’s youth club shortly after leaving school and earned a scholarship to Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.
Charlton recalled McKenley’s willingness to assist her and other Jamaican athletes, no matter the circumstances.
“We used to call him collect,” she said. “He was accepting everybody’s collect call and when I came home, he had no phone. They cut off his phone and he couldn’t afford to get another one.
“So those little things taught me a lesson, that he gave his all. And anything you say to him or any request, he would always say yes, but remind me. Sometimes he doesn’t do it but the fact is that his heart was always willing.”
Charlton represented Jamaican in the 100m sprint at the 1964, 1968, and 1972 Olympic Games before returning to Jamaica to teach physical education. She also ventured into administration with the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association as a vice president and with the Olympians Association of Jamaica (OAJ) as president.
Charlton acknowledges that her commitment to the sport required much personal sacrifice at times but says that she proud of what she has gained through the sport and what she has given to the many persons she has guided.
“That is why I appreciate Herb, Keith Gardner, all of them, because it’s a sacrifice, but I got something from it and hopefully, I have impacted some persons,”
Among the evening’s awardees was retired cricket umpire Steve Bucknor. Bucknor officiated for more than 30 years in over 100 Tests and One-Day International matches, as well as five consecutive Cricket World Cup finals from 1992 to 2007. His award was accepted by his daughter, Suzanne. Additionally, five persons, including national senior men’s football team head coach Theodore Whitmore, were honoured with the Certificate of Merit.
RJRGLEANER Sports Foundation Awardees
Lifetime Achievement Award
Certificates of Merit
Dr Kevin Jones