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Thanks, Bailey, for blazing the trail

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

He was the first T&T sports personality to put this country on the world stage yet he never had the opportunity to represent the land of his birth at the Olympic Games where he scored his greatest athletic achievement. Emmanuel McDonald Bailey, who died last Thursday, just a few days shy of his 93rd birthday, was the sporting icon who inspired several generations of athletes to seek Olympic glory. 


Bailey’s own Olympic dreams were sparked by the exploits of the legendary Jesse Owen. A student at Queen’s Royal College (QRC) at the time, he decided then to pursue an athletics career. Bailey showed promise from an early age. At 16, he beat JRN Cumberbatch, then this country’s leading runner, over 220 yards in 21.5 seconds, a national record at the time. Between 1940 and 1944, Bailey campaigned in T&T and the Caribbean. 


He created history by winning the 100 and 220 yards at the British Athletics Championships in 1946 and, with the exception of 1948, claimed 15 AAA titles, including seven sprint doubles. He also held the British All Comers record of 9.6 seconds for the 100 yards from 1946-1953. Bailey was among the most famous names in sport when he competed for Great Britain in the men’s 100 metres at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London.


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