First Gibson Relays in 1973 showing the victorious 4x400m Boys Open Relay team from Kingston College. The individuals are from left to right: Maurice Lawrence, Ronald Gray, Charles Headlam and Noel Gray. (Photo: Courtesy of the Gibson McCook relays)
In 1973 Noel Gray brought the house down for Kingston College (KC) at the then inaugural Gibson Relays, winning both the 4x100m and 4x400m events. Forty-six years later, he remembers it as if it was yesterday.
Gray, along with his younger brother Ronald Gray, Charles Headlam and Alton Dallas sped to victory in the 4x100m. Then the Grays, along with Headlam and Maurice Lawrence, captured the 4x400m.
“It was some fond memories. Those were the better days of life. The track and field atmosphere was priceless and I don’t know if it the same thing today, but we had rivalry with other schools but at the end of the day we were all buddies,” Gray told the Jamaica Observer via a telephone interview from his home in Florida.
“In the 4×400, I ran the third leg and my brother ran the anchor then. We switched around because they claimed that they wanted to win it early,” revealed the Champs Class One 200m and 400m champion of 1973.
Gray actually equalled the legendary Trevor “TC” Campbell’s 400m record of 47.5 seconds and won the 200m in 21.6 at Champs. He was also a part of the KC team that won the 4x100m in 1973 and 1974 at the prestigious Penn Relays in the United States of America.
“It’s really nice to see Gibson Relay in its current state. It’s an international meet and for most of us in Jamaica, the way it is right now that’s what we envisioned,” said Gray.
“It was the pioneering year and it was in the works for a while. Maybe the visionaries saw what it would be like today,” he added.
“We never knew what it would be like. We just were told we are going to run at Gibson Relay. We never thought of it as much because most of us were in our Champs preparation. We never usually have much meets before that. Our main focus was Sports Day then Champs and Penn Relays and Carifta Games.
“That was a good year for us,” Gray added.
Gray, who lost his younger brother Dr Ronald Gray, known as “Little Gray” to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s Disease last October, has never been back to Gibson mainly because of his college commitment then and work after gaining his degree.
“It wasn’t on the top shelf any more, you have to make a living after college and get going with life,” said Gray, who is a retired Mathematics teacher at the Miami Dade County Public Schools.
“Its’ not like I turned my back on track and field, but I had four years at college and life got in the way and you have to make up your mind,” he explained.
Gray studied engineering at the University of Florida; educational leadership at Florida Atlantic University and mathematics education at Nova Southern University.
“You think about the demise of a lot of students who came up here on scholarships that didn’t finish and I didn’t want to be in that statistics,” Gray noted.