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News > Sport

Jamaica: Olympic Icon Dies, Leaving Legacy for Female Athletes

  • Her greatest achievements were “inspiring countless Jamaican athletes to do as much and more.”

    Her greatest achievements were “inspiring countless Jamaican athletes to do as much and more.” | Photo: Twitter:@AndrewHolness

Published 9 March 2019

“Her passing represents the end of an era,” said Jamaican Sports Minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange.

A pioneer in both Jamaican sports and medicine, Dr. Cynthia Thompson leaves behind a legacy for women, Jamaican Sports Minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange said after the former Olympic sprinter passed away on Friday at the age of 96.


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Although Thompson never brought a gold medal home, she made her name by participating as the only female athlete in Jamaica’s first Olympic team in London in 1948.

“Her passing represents the end of an era,” Grange said in a statement Friday.

The minister said that regardless of the fact that Thompson came sixth in the 100m final at the 1940’s international  competition, her overall accomplishments were much bigger than a gold medal. Her greatest achievement was “inspiring countless Jamaican athletes who followed that they could do as much and more.”

Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association Dr. Warren Blake said, "Her contributions to Jamaica's athletics are stellar. She may not have won any Olympic medals, but she was one of our first female Olympians and was part of that first trip to the London Olympics in 1948.

"The trip to England in those days was not a trip by air, but by sea and that trip took a toll to her- of course not everyone does well on the sea and so she was seasick for the entire time and lost quite a bit of weight," said Blake.

"That affected her performance as she also was not able to do much exercises on the ship. Her times going into the Olympics were as good as, if not better than the other competitors. She was not able to win or medal, which was expected of her, but she helped to lay the foundation. She remained active in track and field and was a great supporter of the federation. She will be sorely missed," Blake said, noting that Thompson set records in the 200m which were later beaten by gold medalist Fanny Blankers-Koen of the Netherlands.

After her sports career, Dr. Thompson went on to practice as a pediatrician and lived a “remarkable, long, and successful life,” Grange said.

“This heroine of Jamaican sport and medicine has completed a remarkable journey and our country is so much better for her service,” she added.

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