KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — Olympic medal-winning track and field athlete Germaine Mason died Thursday in a motorcycle crash outside the capital of his native Jamaica, police in the Caribbean island said.
Mason apparently lost control of his Honda motorcycle before dawn in St. Andrew Parish, the Jamaica Constabulary Force said in a statement. The 34-year-old athlete was taken to a local hospital but did not survive.
Mason was born in Jamaica but represented Britain in the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing. He won a silver medal in the high jump, with a personal best of 7.67 feet.
“Germaine was an outstanding athlete and a truly lovely man,” said senior high jump coach at British Athletics Fuzz Caan, who worked closely with Mason at the time of his Olympic success. “He had a wry sense of humor and was a pleasure to be around. He was a great ambassador of British high jumping.”
Ben Hawes, the chairman of the British Olympic Association’s athletes’ commission, expressed condolences on behalf of the country’s Olympians.
“Winning a silver medal in Beijing places him amongst a unique group of athletes and underlines what a talented individual he was,” Hawes said.
Authorities did not disclose a possible cause of the accident, which occurred in an area by the airport that is frequently used by people to race cars and motorcycles in the early morning hours.
The Gleaner newspaper in Jamaica reported on its website that several other athletes, including sprinter Usain Bolt, turned up at the accident scene immediately after the crash, which occurred around 4:30 a.m.
Bolt’s agent did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ewan Scott, records director at the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association, told The Associated Press that the island’s governing body for track and field has “not heard of any of our athletes being part of this incident.”
The news stunned Jamaica, a country that takes particular pride in its relatively large number of standout athletes in track and field. Prime Minister Andrew Holness expressed “sincere condolences to the entire sporting fraternity” in a message on Twitter.