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Former athlete Germaine Mason was given a high-flying send-off yesterday as hundreds of mourners saluted the late high jumper in various forms during a colorful service of thanksgiving for his life.The Hagley Park Seventh-Day Adventist Church in St Andrew was crammed past its official capacity, with those who could not make it inside braving the scorching pre-summer heat outside, to display honor and respect to the Jamaican-born who in later years represented Great Britain.


It was a ceremony bereft of the wailing and moaning familiar to final farewells, but the pain of those closest to Mason was no less evident as star athletes, family, and friends stoically contained their grief.

The 34-year-old, whose life ended tragically when his motorcycle crashed on the Palisadoes main road in Kingston on April 20, was remembered as a special, fun-loving, determined man, who was as dedicated to his family as he was to the athletic discipline of high jumping.

Cousin Eric Cyrus, who delivered the eulogy, remembered “Ger”, “Gerry boo”, “Seanito, “Lengthy”, “Jumper”, “Tallman” as a confident young man who was very popular among his peers from an early age for his winning personality.

He described as “special”, the high jumper who gave Great Britain its first medal in high jump 100 years at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. Mason switched allegiance to Great Britain in 2006 after his family emigrated there from Jamaica.

“Germaine was a very sociable individual. He loved life to the fullest. He was vibrant and was never afraid to live and experience something new each day, mainly so he could pass his stories and knowledge on to his children. He was blessed with such a warm and loving spirit that caused people to gravitate to him with even the slightest encounter,” Cyrus reflected.

“In his presence you would feel a genuine care and goodness that brings a certain joy with it. Germaine loved his friends and was very supportive of everything they did. He was someone you could count on, lean on, and confide in, yet you will barely ever be able to tell when he was bothered, or sad, or having a hard time. He was a rock for many,” his cousin told mourners.

Tributes were also offered by other athletes who were close to Mason, including Great Britain teammate Louise Hazel, Jamaica’s Ricardo “Bibi” Gardner, Nesta Carter, and Michael Frater, while superstar athlete Usain Bolt was among the hundreds of tearful mourners.

Mason grew up in Harbour View, St Andrew, and attended Mary Bond Basic School, Harbour View Primary School, and Windward Road All-Age School, after which he moved on to Wolmer’s Boys’ School.

He began participating in the high jump event at age 13 in 1996 while he attended Windward Road All-Age and went on to compete at the Institute of Sports All-Age Championship.

Coach Stephen Francis, of MVP Track Club fame, guided young Mason while he attended Wolmer’s, paving the way to a career in high jump that would years later take him to the Olympic Games.

Mason earned medals at the Boys’ and Girls’ Athletics Championship, as well as the CARIFTA Games and the Central American and Caribbean Championship. In 2000, at age 17, he won a silver medal at the World Junior Championships, in Santiago, Chile, followed by a bronze medal at his second World Junior Championship in Kingston.

Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt

In 2003 he broke the Jamaica national record five times and still holds the national record from the Paris World Championships, where he placed fifth in the high jump event as a first-time senior athlete.

Mason came back from knee injury in 2005, which had kept him out of the sport for over a year, and once again began training with Francis and MVP Track Club to win the bronze medal at the 27th Spar European Cup Super League in Spain, for Britain. Still nursing injury, he went on to cop the silver medal for Britain in the famous ‘Bird’s Nest’ Stadium in Beijing, China.

Mason leaves behind pregnant girlfriend Shari-Dee Barker, their five-year-old son Jelani, mother Carol, father David, and seven siblings.

His body was interred in the family plot in the eastern parish of Portland.

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