By: Cerone White
On this day in Caribbean history, June 2, 1948, The Honorable Herbert Henry better known as “Herb” McKenley, set a new world record for the 400 meters with a time of 46 seconds shortly before the 1948 London Olympics. A month later ,Herb broke his own record, clocking 45.9 seconds.
Herb Mckenley OM was born July 10, 1922, in Pleasant Valley, Clarendon, Jamaica. His track career allowed him to compete in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics with his accomplishments from the games including one gold medal which from the 1948 London games in the 4×400 meters and three silver medals, two of which he won in the 1952 Helsinki games for the 100 meter and the 400 meters. His other silver medals were gained in the 1948 London games for the 400meters. Herb was like no other, he was a talented track star taking part in a total of six events during the Olympic Games. Herb made it to the finals in all three sprinting events, the 100, 200 and 400 meters.
Herb attended the University of Illinois and while there he won the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championship in the 200 and 400 meter in 1946 and 1947 respectively. Herb not only dominated the NCAA but he also dominated the field in the Amateur Athletic Association (AAA) championship games, he won the 400 meter in 1945 and in 1947 and again in 1948 during that era he had some of the best times in the world. In the 100 meter he clocked 10.3 seconds, in the 200 meters 20.4 seconds and in the 400 meters he clocked 46.2 seconds in 1947. He is the only person to ever have achieved this feat. After his superb career, he became a track coach and administrator at his alma mater, Calabar High School. Herb died at the age of 85 on November 26, 2007.