Fri | Apr 19, 2024

‘We feel the void’

Media, sports fraternity hail Lawrence for exceptional journalism

Published:Sunday | February 25, 2024 | 12:07 AMJob Nelson - Sports Coordinator

Hubert Lawrence playing in the Business House Table Tennis competition for the Jamaica Public Service Company at the Gleaner’s office in 2006.
Hubert Lawrence playing in the Business House Table Tennis competition for the Jamaica Public Service Company at the Gleaner’s office in 2006.
Hubert Lawrence (left) and fellow veteran journalist Lance Whittaker.
Hubert Lawrence (left) and fellow veteran journalist Lance Whittaker.
Hubert Lawrence (left) in conversation with Jamaica’s first female Olympic gold medallist, Deon Hemmings.
Hubert Lawrence (left) in conversation with Jamaica’s first female Olympic gold medallist, Deon Hemmings.
Hubert Lawrence makes a serious point during a Gleaner Editors’ Forum on Sports at the organisation’s North Street office in 2017.
Hubert Lawrence makes a serious point during a Gleaner Editors’ Forum on Sports at the organisation’s North Street office in 2017.
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LEGENDARY JAMAICAN journalist Hubert Lawrence is being hailed for his extraordinary knowledge and acumen by individuals within and outside the sports industry, who believe his death will leave a void in track and field analysis.

Noted for his commentary and reports in print and broadcast, especially track and field, the 64-year-old Lawrence passed away suddenly at his home on Friday. Jamaican sports and political leaders showered Lawrence with praise for his exemplary work from 1981, when he started his professional journey.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Opposition Leader Mark Golding numbered among the Jamaicans who paid tribute on social media to Lawrence’s contribution to sports journalism in Jamaica, while also expressing condolences to his family and friends.

According to Holness, Lawrence’s more than four-decade showcasing a profound knowledge and passion for track and field is invaluable, and he described his death as a shock to Jamaica.

“My heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends, and colleagues during this time of grieving. May his outstanding legacy continue to inspire future generations,” Holness said.

Golding added: “He always shared a plethora of knowledge of local and international track and field. It wasn’t hard to see how much he enjoyed covering the sport. He will surely be missed.”

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange labelled Lawrence a track and field guru among the best authorities on the sport in the world.

“His depth of knowledge about track and field was global. His commentaries dug deep. Whenever people talk about track and field, Hubert Lawrence’s name will be called as one who was neither on the track nor on the field but whose contribution to the sport will always be remembered,” Grange said.

Lawrence’s sporting intellect, however, extended beyond track and field as he played table tennis competitively from his younger days at St Jago High School until a week before his passing, and he was active in the volleyball fraternity, which also included a stint at the administrative level.

President of the Jamaica Table Tennis Association, Andrew Lue, a cub to Lawrence on St Jago’s table tennis team and a personal friend, was at a loss for words on his passing.

According to Lue, they competed against each other in the business house competition and shared many familiarities, including Lawrence’s mother being a church congregant that his father pastored.

“The entire TT fraternity is mourning the loss of a great person, journalist and repository of historical facts and statistics. I have lost a personal friend and a strong supporter in and outside the sport,” Lue said.

According to the president of the Jamaica Volleyball Association (JaVA), Jackie Cowan, and former president Carole Beckford, Lawrence’s contribution to the sport has been comprehensive, dating back to the 1980s, when he covered the sport extensively for the now defunct Jamaica Record newspaper.

“Hubert has been a friend to volleyball and always kept us in the forefront, so to have him not be here to witness what we will be doing is a huge loss for us and the sporting fraternity. He has done a lot, and we were always look forward to his analysis,” Cowan said.

Beckford said Lawrence served the North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation (NORCECA) on the press commission during her tenure at JaVA and was a member of the organising committee for the Under-19 Championships in 2009 and the Volleyball World Cup qualifiers before that.

The media fraternity also paid tribute to Lawrence. At the time of his passing, Lawrence worked with the RJRGLEANER Communications Group doing analysis for television while also writing reports and commentary for print. He was scheduled to be on the television team for the Gibson McCook Relays yesterday at the National Stadium.

Dr Claire Grant, deputy CEO broadcast services and content, said: “The TVJ family, the news and sports department specifically, are extremely saddened by the passing of Hubert. He would have been with us delivering to our audiences, his encyclopaedia-type analysis and commentary, so immediately we feel the void.

“His passion for track field and his dedication to being the best at what he chose to do is the type of professionalism that we want all our sporting journalists, commentators and analysts to aspire to.”

The Gleaner newsroom, for which he had written right up until 9:29 a.m. on Friday, was in particular grief.

Hubert has been a regular contributor to the Gleaner’s publications for very many years, but formally since 2018.

“He had an easy, engaging way of writing and his columns and articles always added well-considered perspectives. The detail in his pieces might lead one to believe that he pored over research material for facts and context … that’s if you didn’t know that those facts were already part of his vast bank of knowledge. He seemed to breathe sports and it flowed from him in his writings, not just on track and field but in other disciplines too.

“Hubert was an editor’s dream as his work was swiftly ready for the page, he delivered it on time and truly understood that “brevity is the soul of wit”.

“His immediate editor found in him a humble man who was more about the sport than he was about himself.

“His passing will impact our pages,” said Moya Thomas, The Gleaner’s Editor-in-Chief.

“Veteran broadcaster at SportsMax, Lance Whittaker, who worked with Lawrence on several major international events, said: “His broadcasts were the essence of ease, style and titanic knowledge. I always told him he was the world’s best but his humility didn’t allow him to accept it.”

Sporting bodies around the island were no less vocal in their tributes.

The Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) said: “Hubert dedicated his life to the sport we love.”

The Sports Development Foundation (SDF) added: “Hubert Lawrence was a veteran sports journalist, analyst, author, and commentator known for his incisive commentary, insightful interviews, and unwavering dedication to local sports. He was a true champion for athletes and sports development in Jamaica, inspiring generations with his passion and knowledge. He was well known for his balanced and insightful commentaries and interviews.”