Legendary high school track stars Daniel England and Anneisha McLaughlin-Whilby honoured with inaugural GKMS Western Union Icon Award

By March 23, 2024

In what could be described as another memorable chapter in the rich history of the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Championships at Kingston's National Stadium, former high school track stars Daniel England and Anneisha McLaughlin-Whilby were honoured with the first-ever GKMS Western Union Icon Award, presented by title sponsors GraceKennedy Money Services.

Throughout his high school career, England, who was popularly known as “The Little Warrior”, ran undefeated over the 400m and lost only once in the 200m during his four years representing Calabar High School leading them to titles in 1988, 1989 and 1990. His only loss came at the hands of St Jago’s Donovan Powell, the elder brother of former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell.

England’s legacy at Calabar remains unparalleled and he expressed his heartfelt gratitude upon receiving the prestigious award. "It is an honour to be recognized," he remarked, his voice tinged with emotion. "It was a pleasure. I thank God. I thank Herb McKenley, I thank the Calabar Old Boys for supporting me over the years and I just appreciate it. I am feeling overwhelmed. It was an exciting moment and I am just glad to be here and to be able to know what I did in the past has some value for the future."

Boasting a similar legacy that featured 19 gold medals throughout her illustrious high school career during which she set many records, one of which still stands today, McLaughlin-Whilby’s incredibly versatile talents in the 200m and 400m led Holmwood Technical to girls’ titles in 2003, 2004 and 2005 and laid the foundation for the school’s nine consecutive championships.

Her Class 3 400m record of 52.52 set in 2001 still stands today after more than two decades.

In her final year, McLaughlin-Whilby defeated one Shelly-Ann Fraser to win the Class 1 100m dash to end her high-school career on a winning note.

Equally moved by the recognition, she shared her surprise and joy at being bestowed with the iconic award. "It was a big surprise. I really thought I was here to do medal presentations but I am very appreciative and very happy that my achievements have been recognized," she expressed, her gratitude evident in every word. "I am very proud of all that I did in high school. I still have a record at champs but this is an addition and I am very appreciative.”

As McLaughlin-Whilby spoke, her twin daughters, already showing signs of following in their mother's legendary footsteps, added a touch of poignancy to the moment. "They actually are (following in her footsteps). They had sports day today and they finished first and second," she proudly declared, embodying the spirit of athletic excellence that runs in the family.

Gabriel Heron, Head of Business Transformation at GraceKennedy Money Services, underscored the significance of honouring Jamaica's sporting icons. "I must give kudos to the team because it goes back to our GraceKennedy mantra 'We Care'," he affirmed while speaking exclusively to Sportsmax.TV. "And in really thinking through the concept, we came up with how can we show and give respect to individuals who really laid the foundation for Boys and Girls Championships."

Heron emphasized the importance of recognizing the legacy and contributions of athletes like England and McLaughlin-Whilby in shaping Jamaica's sporting heritage. "This whole idea of nation-building surrounding the championships, this element of it is a part of it," he stated. "It’s showing the history that we must always be grateful and show support for the individuals that laid the foundation.

“For the persons who were in the audience, you could see that there was a strong connection and the memory that it would have recalled seeing Daniel England flashing around the bend, seeing Anneisha with her hair bouncing around the bend, those kind of memories come back to us and also reinforces the history of Champs and where we’re coming from as well.

“And as a company we really revel in that and we should be proud of those moments and we should always and consistently recognize our sports icons in all facets of life and this was a critical moment.”

 

 

 

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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