JAAA’s Tribute to Dionne Rose-Henley

It is with regret that the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) has learnt of the passing of retired 100m hurdler Dionne Rose-Henley, a two time Olympian.

DionneRose Henley2Fans throughout the island will remember her as one of the ladies who established Jamaica as a world sprint hurdling power in the 1990’s and as a charming ambassador for this country.

A Kingston native, Dionne emerged as a jumper/hurdler/sprint relay runner during the Vere Technical glory years. Linked with the likes of Beverly McDonald, Juliet Campbell and Cheryl-Ann Phillips at Barton Community College, she helped Barton to set junior college relay records while she developed in both the jumps and the hurdles. Her move to Middle Tennessee University saw continued improvement and an NCAA indoor sprint hurdles title in 1994.

A debut Olympian in 1992, Dionne’s career accelerated when she began to focus on the 100m hurdles. Along with Michelle Freeman and Gillian Russell, she formed a formidable trio. When she returned to the Olympics in 1996, she and Freeman became the first Jamaicans ever to reach the 100m hurdles final, placing 5th and Freeman 6th. Though her smile might fool you, Dionne was a fierce competitor and, in fact, produced her personal best in those Games at 12.64 seconds. That made her the second fastest Jamaican of all time and even now, long after her retirement, that run holds her at number 6.

Her consistency and determination made her a fixture on Jamaican teams to the biggest meets. National Champion twice, she raced her way into four consecutive World Championship finals starting with a 7th place finish in Goteborg, Sweden in 1995.

She improved to 5th place two years later in Athens, Greece and reached the top eight in both 1999 (Sevilla, Spain) and 2001 (Edmonton, Canada).

Happy to don the black-green-and-gold wherever it might lead her, she was CAC Champion in both 1998 (MaracaiboVenezuela) and 2002 (San SalvadorEl Salvador). She reached the 60 metre hurdles final in the 1999 World Indoor Championships in Maebashi, Japan.

She turned to coaching when her days on the track were over, serving at Middle Tennessee, Tennessee State University and Central Michigan University.  Her final coaching assignment was at Coastal Carolina University as assistant track and field coach, where she focused on the sprints, hurdles and relays.

The JAAA remembers her as one of Jamaica’s pioneer 100m hurdlers, a true Jamaican and a splendid teammate. Her accomplishments and her bright, warm and kindly personality will never be forgotten.

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