British Olympic high jump silver medallist Germaine Mason has died aged 34 after a motorcycle crash in Jamaica.
The Jamaica-born athlete, who switched to represent Great Britain in 2006, won silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
He was a friend of sprinter Usain Bolt, who was on the scene soon after the crash at 04:20 local time on Thursday.
“Usain Bolt was part of the group that came by and he was very, very emotional, and still is,” said Senior Superintendent Calvin Allen.
Senior Supt Allen, commanding officer of the Jamaican police traffic and highway division, told the BBC: “I understand they are very close friends.”
He was unable to say whether Mason had been in Bolt’s company that evening, or if the eight-time Olympic champion was in a following vehicle.
Mason won Britain’s first athletics medal of the Beijing Games, finishing second behind Russian Andrey Silnov.
British Olympic champions Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Denise Lewis and Linford Christie have all paid tribute, with Christie saying he would never be forgotten.
‘The entire country grieves’
Senior Supt Allen said the former high jumper had been travelling from the direction of the airport towards Kingston when the accident happened.
“Our information suggests he lost control of the motorcycle and fell to the ground and received serious injuries, mainly to his face, head and upper body,” he said.
“The evidence suggests he was not wearing a protective helmet.
“It is a very mournful time in Jamaica. The entire country grieves for this standout athlete. It is very, very sad. We want to express our deepest condolences at the untimely death.”
Jamaica prime minister Andrew Holness tweeted: “Our sincere condolences to the entire sporting fraternity.”
‘A truly lovely man’
Mason claimed world indoor bronze for Jamaica in 2003 and recovered after suffering a career-threatening knee injury the following year.
He was eligible to represent Britain because his father David was born in London, and he switched allegiance two years before the Beijing Games.
On his Olympic debut, he managed 2.34m at his first attempt, with favourite Silnov the only athlete to clear 2.36m.
British Athletics senior high jump coach Fuzz Caan, who worked closely with Mason at the time of his Olympic success, called him an “outstanding athlete and a truly lovely man”.
“He had a wry sense of humour and was a pleasure to be around. He was a great ambassador of British high jumping. It is an honour for us to have him as part of our sporting history,” he said.
UK Athletics chief executive Niels de Vos said staff were saddened to hear of Mason’s death.
“Our deepest sympathies go to Germaine’s friends, family and the athletics community at this difficult time,” he said.
‘Definitely one of the jokers of the pack’
Retired sprinter Jeanette Kwakye, who was part of the GB athletics team in Beijing along with Mason, said he was “really, really fun, really, really cool and nice to be around”.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live, Kwakye added: “The one word that I would describe Germaine was fun.
“He was somebody that was so loveable, really caring and always fun.”
She added: “You never really saw Germaine with a sad look on his face. In fact, I think the picture that the media are using a lot is where he’s kind of putting his hand to his ear, and I can tell you that was when he was jumping over the high jump bar in Beijing and getting the crowd to make loads and loads of noise.
“He wanted to make sure he could hear them, so he’s definitely one of the jokers of the pack.”
:Collected from BBC Sports