by Howard Campbell
[CALIFORNIA] – Byron LaBeach, a quarter-miler who was a member of Jamaica’s 4×400 meters team to the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland, died in California on December 12 at age 91.
His daughter, Monique LaBeach, confirmed his death.
LaBeach was the alternate member of Jamaica’s famed 4X400 metres relay team that won that event in Helsinki. Les Laing, George Rhoden, Arthur Wint and Herb McKenley comprised the winning team.
Hall of Fame
In 2003 when he was among the first eight persons inducted into the Jamaica Amateur Athletics Association’s Hall of Fame, LaBeach said it was a long time coming.
“This (recognition) is way, way overdue, I was shut out since the 1960s. I felt very neglected. Everyone here knows me but didn’t want to recognise me and I didn’t know why,” he told the Jamaica Observer newspaper.
LaBeach also received an Olympic pin from the Jamaica Olympic Association in 2019.
He competed in the 100 metres at the 1952 Games but was eliminated in the second round. At the Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC) in Mexico City two years later, he was fourth and fifth in the finals of the 100 and 200 metres events, respectively.
His only gold medal performance for Jamaica came at the CAC meet when he was a member of the winning 4X100 metres team that also included Laing, Rhoden and Keith Gardner. It was the last time he competed for Jamaica.
The youngest of six sons. LaBeach was born in Kingston to Jamaican parents who had lived for a time in Panama.
One of his brothers, Lloyd, was a bronze medallist in the 100 and 200 metres at the 1948 Olympics in London. Another sibling, Sam, ran as a quarter-miler for Panama.
LaBeach attended and competed in athletics for Morgan State University in Maryland. There, he earned degrees in Physical Education and Sociology. He also had a business degree from California State College.
Violet, his wife of 57 years, died this year. He is survived by three children and four grandchildren.