Hasely Joachim Crawford, pioneer athlete from Trinidad and Tobago
In 1976, Hasely Joachim Crawford etched his name indelibly into the annals of Trinidad and Tobago athletic history when he won his country’s first Olympic gold medal.
The lanky sprinter won the 100m title from the first lane in 10.06 seconds ahead of Jamaican Donald Quarrie, who was closing fast.
Born in San Fernando on August 16, 1950, Crawford was a relatively late bloomer as he began his track career at age 17.
He would become national champion in the 100m six times, as well as national champion in the 200m in 1976. His first taste of international competition was 20 years ago when he won bronze in the 100m at the Commonwealth Games.
Two years later, he competed in the 100m final at the Munich Olympics, but stopped injured after 20m. But that disappointment turned into joy four years later when he achieved his greatest achievement with a win in Montreal.
However, a year prior, he won silver at the Pan American Games, signaling his status as a serious contender for the Olympics title.
After finishing second at the 1975 Pan American Games in the 100 meters, Crawford was added to American coach Bob Parks’ team. His new coach groomed him for the 100m and 200m events at the 1976 Summer Olympics with a strategy of only allowing him to run a few races during the season. The tactic paid off as Crawford, in Inner Lane 1, narrowly won the 100m final in a time of 10.06 seconds, just 0.02 seconds ahead of Jamaica’s Don Quarrie, winning the first Olympic gold medal from Trinidad and Tobago.
In 1976 he also qualified for the 200m final but like his first 100m final in Munich he was injured in the race.
He had further success in the 100m at the 1977 Central American and Caribbean Games. A national stadium and a jet were named in his honor, and he appeared on postage stamps, and in 1978 he was received his country’s highest honour, the Trinity Cross.