Jamaican Olympian Tate inducted into MSU Hall of Fame

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

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JAMAICAN Olympian Ethlyn Tate has been inducted into Morgan State's University (MSU) Hall of Fame.

She competed for the Lady Bears from 1986-90, capping the sportsmanship and outstanding achievement award at the end of her four-year journey as a student athlete.

In 1991 she completed her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.

A Vere Technical standout and at 5ft-2in, weighing just 100 lbs, Tate was the fastest female living in Jamaica as a schoolgirl in the 1980s. She was delighted about her induction.

“I have accomplished something great that future athletes can be motivated to be the best they can ever be in their track career. It also makes me feel proud as a Jamaican that my name and photo will remain in the Hall of Fame at Morgan State University to inspire other Jamaicans, whether they are in athletics or straight academics and to be a part of this noble predominantly black institution,” she said.

Tate, a 100m and 200m champion at the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championships, received her Hall of Fame plaque last month.

In its citation of the petite sprinter, MSU said Tate “took full advantage of the opportunity” at Morgan, entering “with unlimited potential and high expectations”.

As a freshman in 1986 she made “an immediate impact on the Lady Bear programme”.

Tate ran the anchor leg on the 4x100m relay team that won the Penn Relays, “setting a school record that still stands today (44.46)”.

The citation further pointed out that in her sophomore season, Tate set a conference record 11.36sec en route to winning the 1987 MEAC 100m championship.

Two years later, she won the 55m and the 100m at ECAC and the 100m and 200m at the MEAC championships.

Now a tax auditor at the Jamaica Tax Administration, Tate is “active in her community and participates in her church's praise and worship team and choir”, the citation ends.

Tate, 52, was also a blazing high school girl athlete from 1982, when she enrolled at Vere Technical, to 1985 when she graduated.

She fondly remembers her last three years, when she was simply unbeatable.

“In 1983-85 I was the fastest high school female sprinter and also the fastest female sprinter living in Jamaica,” she noted.

In 1984 she was named an alternate for the 4x100m relay, travelling to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

“This was a proud moment for me just to be on the same team with likes of Donald Quarrie, Dorothy Scott and Merlene Ottey. I named these persons for a reason because when I was in all-age school I used to hear these names on the radio a lot, and to be on a team with them — this will always be a special moment for me in my track career.”

Proud as she was at the Games, her return was distressing at worst and memorable at best.

“After returning from the 1984 Olympic Games I fell ill with rheumatic fever. This illness affects your joints and causes great pain. I was nurtured back to health by Dr Paul Auden, who was one of my coaches and school doctor at the time.

“However in 1985, just before the then Zone Elimination, the illness returned. The Zone Elimination was to qualify for the Championship to represent your school. My former principal, Col Ben Francis (now deceased, may his soul rest in peace), coach Dr Richard Kitson-Walters, and my teammates were all in panic mode.

“My coach came into the room the day before the track meet and asked me if I would be able to run and should try to place fourth to qualify for the championship. I told him I would try. The first event was the 200m. I had to stand up at the start because of the joint pain, so the gun went off and I positioned myself in fourth place, but as I looked at who was leading I realise Vere Tech was in second place.

“I don't know what happened, but all I know it was as if someone touched me and I just went past everyone and became victorious. I must give honour to the Most High God for such an extraordinary talent, that even in sickness I was unbeatable.”

As a tax auditor, Tate has replaced speed with patience, hope and faith, setting her sight on things above and giving her heavenly Father ever more glory.

— Paul Burrowes

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