A heartbroken Usain Bolt raced to the scene of Germaine Mason’s fatal motorbike crash in Jamaica after hearing of his friend’s tragic accident, it has been revealed.
British Olympic silver medalist Mason was killed while heading into the island’s capital, Kingston, at around 4.20am this morning. The Jamaican-born high jumper reportedly lost control of his Honda CBR motorbike and was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
The 34-year-old is believed to have been at a party with several other athletes, including his close friend track star Bolt, before the crash. Bolt was said to have waited at the scene until Mason’s body was taken away by paramedics. Former Bolton Wanderers and Jamaica defender Ricardo Gardner was also spotted at the site of the crash.
Mason, who has a five-year-old son, competed for Great Britain in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and won a silver medal in the high jump event. The high jump star, who was born in Kingston, lived in Jamaica but has dual nationality because his father is English and was chosen to represent Britain in 2006.
Mason had reportedly been at a party with several athletes, including 100m and 200m world record holder Bolt, 2005 world championship 100m silver medalist Michael Frater, and former Bolton defender Ricardo Gardner before Thursday’s crash occurred.
He crashed his motorbike along Sir Florizel Glasspole Boulevard, in St Andrew’s Parish, southeast of Kingston as he headed into the city.
‘He allegedly lost control and fell from the motorcycle. The police were summoned and Mason was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead,’ the Jamaica Constabulary Force said in a statement.
It is believed the other athletes stopped at the scene following Mason’s crash, according to the Jamaican Gleaner.
Frater told Reuters he went to the scene after hearing about the accident, and waited there until an ambulance arrived.
“I’m just devastated at the news, he was a friend from high school days … still can´t believe this,’ said Frater, who once shared an apartment with Jamaican-born Mason in Kingston.
An agent for Bolt, who was also believed to have been there, has been contacted by MailOnline for comment.
Bolt was in an accident of his own in 2009 when he flipped his black BMW. He escaped nearly unscathed, only needed minor surgery after stepping on thorns while getting out of the wreckage.
Mason died still holding Jamaica’s national record for the high jump event, at 2.34m, or 7.67 feet.
Before migrating to the UK, he trained with the Stephen Francis-coached MVP Track Club. He then moved on to train with Great Britain to prepare for the 2008 games. Mason continued to compete until he retired from the sport in 2016. Following his retirement, he returned to Jamaica to live closer to his family and friends.
As news broke of Mason’s death, several athletes poured out tributes on social media, including Johnson Thomson and Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill. Ennis-Hill tweeted: ‘This is just awful. Such sad news’, while Linford Christie wrote: ‘Heart goes out to friends and family of Germaine Mason on this sad day. RIP Germaine. Never forgotten.’
The news stunned Jamaica, a country that takes particular pride in its relatively large number of standout athletes in track and field.
Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness tweeted: ‘Our sincere condolences to the entire sporting community.’
Aside from his Olympic silver, Mason had several other wins. He received silver at the Junior World Championships in Chile in 2000, bronze at the Junior World Championships in Jamaica 2002, and bronze at the World Indoor Championships in Budapest in 2004. But his Olympic success was by far the standout achievement of his career, with his jump of 2.34 metres equalling his personal best and putting him in behind Russia’s Andrei Silnov, who took gold.
Mason had lost his lottery funding a year earlier because of underwhelming performances, but stormed back to snatch a medal in China. He was seen celebrating at trackside in Beijing with Bolt, who said at the time: ‘We’ve been friends since 2002 and I’m very happy for him.
‘He had knee surgery and he’s coming back now, so I’m happy for him. To me, it doesn’t really matter who he runs for.’
Team GB and the British Olympic Association said it was ‘sad to hear’ about Mason’s death on Thursday. ‘Team GB are incredibly saddened to hear of the sudden death of Olympic medalist Germaine Mason,’ Team GB said in a statement on Facebook. ‘Rest in peace, Germaine.’
Bill Sweeney, Chief Exec of the British Olympic Association said: ‘The whole of the BOA is incredibly sad to hear of the passing of Germaine Mason. ‘Germaine was a great athlete, an Olympian and a silver medal winning part of Team GB who made history at Beijing 2008. Our thoughts and condolences are with his family and friends at this difficult time.’
Team Jamaica also released a statement following Mason’s death. ‘Our deepest condolences to Germaine’s friends, family and teammates. R.I.P.,’ the statement said.
Mason was one of only four British athletics medalists at the 2008 Games but faced major setbacks in and out of the sport in the subsequent years. Knee surgery at the end of the year wrecked his winter preparations and then his brother, Andre, was jailed for his part in a gang murder of a 22-year-old student in west London.
His death comes less than four months after two other British athletes were seriously injured in a motorcycle crash in Tenerife. Sprinters James Ellington and Nigel Levine were warm weather training in the region when the crash occurred. Ellington suffered serious hip and leg injuries and is still fighting to save his career.
This article was first published by MailOnline.
Article by: Kelly McLaughlin for MailOnline
Published: 13:52 BST, 20 April 2017 Updated: 19:33 BST, 20 April 2017