A former Jamaica 100 yards record holder and an Olympian who went on to equalled the 100 yards world record of 9.3sec four times in 1961, Dennis Johnson has died aged 81 after being admitted to hospital with Covid-19.
Johnson, a former director of sports at the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech), was born in 1939 and gained his college education at San Jose State College in the United States, where he was coached by the legendary sprint coach Bud Winter and was a member of the San Jose State Spartans track team.
It was while he was with San Jose State University in 1961 that he equalled the 100y world record, first set by America’s Mel Patton in 1948, the year he went on to win 200 metres and 4×100 metres gold at the London Olympics.
In 2001, Johnson was conferred with the Order of Distinction by the Government of Jamaica.
He was awarded the UTech Chancellor’s medal in 2009 and in 2010 he initiated a Sports Science degree programme at UTech.
In a tribute entitled The Stature of Dennis Johnson, Christopher Samuda, President of the Jamaica Olympic Association, described the former sprinter as “a celebrated architect of Jamaica’s track and field edifice and the quintessential expression of humility in the face of prodigious Olympic and other accomplishments.”.
Samuda added: “He was the coach’s coach who understood the aspirations of his students and embraced the responsibility he had to create excellence.
“Dennis Osric Johnson will be remembered as a faithful custodian of the values of sport and a father who nurtured many youth to imprint their spikes with timeless merit on this planet we call Earth.
“The Jamaica Olympic Association reflects with ineffable pride on the stature of an Olympian and with reverence on the soul of a man who we knew well and respected.”