High-jumper who won silver medal at Beijing Games dies in front of Olympic superstar Bolt
BRITISH Olympic silver medallist Germaine Mason has been killed in a motorbike accident as he rode in a convoy with Usain Bolt in Jamaica.
Mason, who won silver at the Beijing Games in 2008, died in a crash as he rode home from a party with pals in Kingston this morning.
The 34-year-old died at the scene after losing control of his bike amid claims he swerved to avoid an oncoming vehicle.
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He had been on a night out with triple world and Olympic champion Bolt, along with sprinter Michael Frater.
Mason grew up on the Caribbean island but switched allegiances to represent Great Britain in 2006 ahead of the Olympics in China two years later.
Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness tweeted after his death: “Our sincere condolences to sporting fraternity.”
Mason is still the holder of the Jamaican national record in the high-jump, set before he emigrated to the UK.
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The high-jumper decided to switch to represent Great Britain to help develop his training regime, on the back of having a father, David, who was born in London.
He made the most of improved facilities to step up his training regime – and was rewarded with a shock silver medal in Beijing.
He equalled his personal best in the final by clearing a height of 2.34m, with Russian Andrey Silnov taking the gold by two centimetres.
Mason looked set to challenge for major international honours in future years, only for a serious knee injury to wreck his career ahead of the 2009 world championships.
When Mason clinched silver in Beijing – Britain’s first medal of the Games and one of only four at the time – Bolt who set two world records in the Bird’s Nest Stadium said: “We’ve been friends since 2002 and I’m very happy for him.
“To me, it doesn’t really matter who he runs for. We’ve been friends since way back.”
In 2009 Mason, who competed for Birchfield Harriers in Birmingham, saw his then 16 year-old brother Andre jailed for LIFE for his part in the horrific gang murder of a 22 year-old student in Southall, West London.
He told SunSport at the time that his own life could have gone much the same way had it not been for sport keeping him on the straight and narrow.
He said: “It’s been a difficult year for my family and I. We’re coping with it, taking everything step by step.”
Bolt himself escaped injury just weeks before London 2012 when he was involved in a minor car crash in Jamaica.
The eight-times Olympic champion was returning from a party with friends in the early hours of the morning when he allegedly lost control of his BMW and hit a guard rail.
Asafa Powell was traveling in another car at the time and was at the scene of Bolt’s accident.
And in 2009 Bolt crashed a previous black BMW of his flipping it into a ditch but escaping unharmed aside from minor surgery needed to his left foot after stepping onto thorns while getting out of the wreckage.
Mason’s death comes less than four months after two more British athletes were seriously injured in a motorbike crash while warm weather training in Tenerife.
James Ellington is battling to save his career after suffering serious leg and hip injuries in the accident, which also saw fellow sprinter Nigel Levine hurt.
Ellington was among the first to Tweet his shock at the news.
He said: “Can’t believe the news I have just heard about Germaine Mason.”
Linford Christie, the Olympic 100m champion from 1992, said: “My heart goes out to friends and family of Germaine Mason on this sad day. R I P Germaine. Never forgotten.”
And Olympic 2000 heptathlon gold medallist Denise Lewis, who competed for Birchfield Harriers too, said: “I’m devastated.”
Germaine Mason Factfile
Born: Kingston, Jamaica
Olympic silver medal, Beijing 2008
World indoor bronze, Budapest 2004
World junior silver, Chile 2000
World junior bronze, Jamaica 2002