Legendary sprinter, coach and administrator Dennis Johnson dead at 81

By April 23, 2021

Track and field legend and coach, Olympian Dennis Johnson, died on Thursday night after a month-long battle with Covid-19.

He was 81.

Considered the architect of the modern Jamaica track programme, Johnson started a sports program at the College of Arts, Science and Technology (CAST) now the University of Technology in 1971. It was a programme that yielded Anthony Davis, Jamaica’s first home-grown Olympic athlete.

As head coach at CAST, Johnson, in the 1980s created the famous Bolts of Lightning 4x100m relay team, the first club side to break 40 seconds for the sprint relay. He also led CAST to a more than decade-long dominance of the Intercollegiate Championships.

It was Johnson in partnership with UTech and Stephen Francis that saw the world-famous MVP Track Club having its base on the college campus and producing a number of world-beating athletes like Asafa Powell, Nesta Carter, Brigitte Foster-Hylton, Melaine Walker, Michael Frater, Shelly-Ann Frater-Pryce and Elaine Thompson.

Johnson, who was also Sports Director at Utech, was also an outstanding athlete. While attending San Jose State University in the United States, equalled the 100-yard world record of 9.3 seconds three times over a six-week span from March 11- May 5 that year.

Unfortunately, injury prevented him from competing for an NCAA title that year.

He was a member of Jamaica’s 4x100m relay team that finished fourth at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Fifth in the 110-yards at the British Empire Games of 1962, he was forced to withdraw from the 220 yards with a groin injury.

Johnson, who was affectionately called ‘DJ’ was inducted into the San Jose State Spartans Hall of Fame. In 2001, the same year he was awarded the Order of Distinction (OD) by the government of Jamaica. He was awarded the UTech Chancellor’s medal in 2009 and in 2012, UTech renamed its athletes’ residence, previously known as the Track House, in Johnson's honour.

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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