Alfred Daley goes from three Olympics to lonely nursing home in United StatesSunday, May 02, 2021
BY JASON CROSS
FRIENDS were aplenty for Alfred Daley during his career as a sprinter for Jamaica.
Daley competed in three consecutive Summer Olympic Games in Munich in 1972, Montreal in 1976 and Moscow in 1980.
Fast-forward to 2021 and Daley, who won gold in the 400 metres event at the 1971 Central American and Caribbean Games, currently leads a lonely life in a nursing home at Schulman & Schachne in New York City.
And even though he cannot move around without using a walker, due to suffering a stroke, Daley finds solace in remembering his glory days as a runner and from time to time the 71 year old hallucinates about being called up for trials with the senior Jamaica men's track team.
Despite these infrequent hallucinations, he manages to keep himself abreast with the latest updates on the Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo, Japan, according to his sister Sylvia Daley.
Sylvia told the Jamaica Observer that she tries to communicate with him on a weekly basis but said he would be in a much better place, mentally, if he wasn't harbouring feelings of abandonment from friends and associates. She said it may be as a result of people being unaware of his current status and location, and she would be grateful if those who were once close to him began rallying around him again.
“For the last four years he has been in a nursing home. Alfred had a stroke some years ago and for the last five years he needs help because he has a balance issue when he walks, and so he is in a nursing home in Brooklyn. He has been doin, well, thank God. He hasn't been ill otherwise. Thank God he has remained healthy throughout this period and we expect that he will continue to remain healthy. Each week, on Tuesdays at around 2:00 o'clock, we speak for half an hour on Face Time with Alfred.
“He is fine and is reading all he can on the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo. He is still a big track and field enthusiast. He watches football, baseball and other sports but track and field is his love. A handful of his track and field friends visit him at Schulman & Schachne nursing home, however we would very much like his many friends to give him a call or get in touch with him. He longs to see and hear from them. He has a lot of old friends living in the tri-state area but they just don't know where he is or what the situation is,” she told the Sunday Observer.
Sylvia shared that as her older sibling, she always admired Alfred who always displayed enthusiasm “as a runner boy”.
“I was very proud two or three Februaries ago when he was honoured by the Olympic Committee in Jamaica for all he had done representing Jamaica. That was a lovely ceremony. It was great.”
One of the Daley's very good friends whom he competed against at track meets while at university in the USA was Derrick Wright, who encouraged persons who know Daley to do as best as they could to visit him in hopes of keeping his spirits high.
He told the Sunday Observer that over the years he has made it a duty to gather a few old friends to visit Daley at the nursing home, but because of the coronavirus pandemic he has fallen off with his visits.
“It bothers me to know that the guy put out so much for Jamaica as an athlete and nobody really does much or say anything about this man. I really feel bad. Because of this COVID I cannot even go visit him, which I would normally do every time I come from Chicago, and I would take a lot of the guys we ran with and I take my brothers because he knows all of them. Everybody needs a little support every now and again. Being alone is not a good thing.
“The people at the rehab centre, they know him and heard his stories and when they saw us they realised he was telling the truth about himself. Track was his world. Running was his thing. If you go there today, his stories will be about track. His mind is not really the same right now because his stories are always about him being called up for trials. He is always saying, 'They called me up man and they want me to try out', and he is not saying it as a joke.
“He was a hard-working fellow whenever he was able to. Most of our discussions were always about racing against each other and what can be done to uplift the track team in Jamaica, always talking about how to advance the runners and make them better. He has a good following but they don't visit because they are not aware of his condition and so they don't make it their point of duty to try and be in touch with him.”
As a boy, Daley was usually the one to stage races for money among his peers and oftentimes would give them head starts and still won.
Daley, the third of six children for his parents, grew up in the Rollington Town area in Kingston. He attended Calabar Primary and Junior High School and then later went on to Calabar High School.
He then attended Seaton Hall University in New Jersey, USA. Daley is an inductee in the Seaton Hall University Hall of Fame, having been inducted on April 7, 1984, the same time as former basketball star Moses Malone.
He was married to former captain of the senior Jamaica netball team, Sonia Sewell.
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