Michael Anthony Fray faced the starter on earth for the last time last Tuesday, en route to a journey to the land beyond.
The Jamaican Olympian, who was found dead on November 6 in Kingston under still unclear circumstances, was hailed by multiple speakers at a thanksgiving service for his life at the Church of St Margaret, Liguanea, as a man who was “real”, supportive of others, kind, highly talented and committed.
Fray, 72, a St Andrew Technical High School old boy, represented Jamaica at the Olympic Games as a 100- and 200-metre sprinter who became the second Jamaican (after Herb McKenley) to reach the final of both events at the Olympics. Later, Don Quarrie, Asafa Powell, Usain Bolt, and Yohan Blake would achieve the feat in the male category.
Fray finished seventh in the 200-metre final of the 1968 games, won by Black power proponent Tommie Smith of the USA.
Fray ran the second leg for Jamaica’s 4×100 metres team at the same 1968 Olympics, which set a world record of 38.39 seconds, which stood as a Jamaica record until 2000. The other members of that team were Clifton Forbes, Errol Stewart, and Lennox “Billy” Miller. The team placed fourth in the final, having broken the record in the heats with a 38.6 timing. The USA won the event.
Four years later at the Olympic Games in the famous German beer-drinking city of Munich, Fray placed fifth in the 100 metres, an event won by Valery Borzov of the then Soviet Union.
Tributes were offered by retired University of the West Indies lecturer Dr Michael Witter, who outlined Fray’s connection with the Mona Heights community and the Real Mona Football Club; former Kingston College and Jamaica star athlete Trevor “TC” Campbell, who spoke of Fray’s encouraging words to him that forced him out of a self-imposed retirement to run a fast 400-metre race upon his return; and Fray’s children, Kareena and Jair, were emotional touchpoints.
Minister with responsibility for sport Olivia “Babsy” Grange also hailed Fray’s many achievements, in addition to reading the first lesson in the historic church that sniffed the aroma of a relaxed dress code and cheerful colours as the family requested.
In an emotional remembrance, Fray’s brother, Robert “Bobby”, the renowned broadcaster and commentator, chronicled the fine achievements of Michael’s life.