Monday, February 18, 2013

Hon Neville 'Teddy' McCook - Hero of Jamaican athletics

Hon Teddy McCook - our shining star 
by Jean Lowrie-Chin | Jamaica Observer | 18 February 2013
Teddy McCook was easily the single most significant contributor to the development of Jamaican athletics. This passionate patriot ran a tight ship when he was JAAA president but was beloved because he inspired everyone with his golden vision for Jamaican achievement.
He became a sought-after expert regionally and internationally, and at the time of his death was a council member of the world governing body for athletics, the IAAF, as well as president of the powerful North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC).
Norman Peart, Usain Bolt's manager, said of his move to Kingston with a young Usain Bolt: "Under the guidance of Hon Teddy McCook, we decided to make the transition to the High Performance Centre at UTech that would take him to a professional level."
Teddy would regale us with his regime to develop four self-reliant daughters: from an early age they had to set up bank accounts and be responsible for their individual budgets. He and his dear Sonia succeeded well, and I extend to them my heartfelt condolences. There will never be another Teddy McCook, but we can keep his spirit alive by living by his values of integrity, discipline and excellence. Rest in peace, Brother Teddy!

Tributes/mentions of Hon Teddy McCook by JL-C in various Observer columns

Mr Teddy McCook
Teddy McCook receives the CCRP Jamaica 50 Living Legacy Awards last February from Chair Prof Denise Eldemire Shearer
 Written in 2006
Discipline is the watchword and at Teddy McCook’s Gibson Relays, every single event starts on time.  There are many stories about this strict, generous, die-hard KC man.  One of my favourites is about the friend who spots Teddy inside the crowded entrance to the Stadium.  He waves to Teddy, Teddy waves back, so the man elbows himself to the front of the line and looks expectantly at his friend.  “Hi,” says Teddy, “Let me have your ticket, man.”  “Ticket?” asks the incredulous friend.  “Yes,” says Teddy, pointing to the ticket office, “Go get it over there and then you can come back.” 
I can’t leave Teddy without telling you another story.  We worked together on the Guinness Road Race committee for many years, and pondered on the delays caused by last-minute entries.  Teddy suggested that we scrap late entries but we resisted, since this was a large percentage of the field.  “Scrap it - trust me,” said Teddy.  After we announced that no raceday entries would be accepted, early registrations poured in and we had the biggest event ever, that year.  Teddy McCook demands the best of his athletes, so he gets it. 
There is a lesson here for our leaders. As North America, Central America and Caribbean representative of the IAAF (International Amateur Athletics Federation), Teddy has international clout, but remains approachable and incorruptible.

Hon Teddy McCook is congratulated by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller after being awarded the Order of Jamaica in October 2006
Mon 23 Oct 2006
 Neville ‘Teddy’ McCook, Jamaica’s gold standard of discipline, world renowned volunteer in athletics, and IAAF regional representative, also received the O.J.   For the function to honour Teddy, IAAF officials flew in from as far away as the Far East to show their respect for a man whose honesty and dedication has taken track and field to new heights locally and globally. 
27 Aug 07 Congrats Hon. Teddy!
The matchless Hon. Teddy McCook, who headed the JAAA in its most formative years, has reached yet another milestone. Last week in Japan, he was elected president of the powerful North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC), succeeding the popular longstanding president Amadeo Francis. This is in addition to his remaining as the Caribbean Head of the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF)

For those who may not know, Teddy McCook’s name is synonymous with character and discipline. In the many years that he has organised the Gibson relays, you can set your watch from the scheduled start of each race – not a minute out.

There are many good stories about Teddy’s refusal to play favourites and his insistence on due diligence and due process. It is no coincidence then, that he has gained the respect of his peers and inspired generations of awesome athletes. Long may he reign.

Teddy McCook – You will be truly missed
Teddy McCook presents the Gold Medal and bouquet to Usain Bolt, whom he mentored - occasion was the 2012 London Olympics
 June 2009 interview with Usain Bolt’s Manager Norman Peart
“We looked down the road and made a decision,” said Peart.  “At the time, sprinting was at a low and we thought, ‘he is the next generation, this is the time’.”
“Under the guidance of Hon Teddy McCook, we decided to make the transition to the High Performance Centre at Utech that would take him to a professional level.  I got a job transfer to Kingston, set up house for both of us and he lived with me for three years. The adjustment was a challenge at the start, as I had no experience as a father.”
16 July 2012
That generous Jamaican couple Sonia and Teddy McCook used to invite aspiring young athletes from humble homes to have Christmas dinner with them. When they were presented with gifts, one teenager broke down in tears. When asked why, he explained that it was the first time in his life that anyone had ever given him a gift.  The things we take for granted are precious for some of our children.

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