60th Anniversary Lecture Highlights Link between Pioneer, Dennis Johnson and the Jamaican ‘Sprint Factory’

An appreciative audience applauds Professor Colin Gyles, Deputy President, University of Technology, Jamaica during his UTech, Jamaica 60th Anniversary Distinguished Public Lecture.  Professor spoke on the topic, “Dennis Johnson, UTech, Jamaica and the Jamaican Sprint Factory” held on March 7, 2019 at the Shared Facilities Building, Papine Campus.

Professor Colin Gyles, Deputy President, University of Technology, Jamaica has contended that the UTech, Jamaica strategy of developing some of the world’s greatest talent  in track and field such as the likes of  Asafa Powell,  Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce,  Sherone Simpson,  Michael Frater, Brigitte Foster-Hylton,  Shericka Williams and a host of other stars, can be replicated, as a basis for sustainability of Jamaica’s international dominance in athletics.

Professor Gyles was delivering the University of Technology, Jamaica 60th Anniversary Distinguished Public Lecture   titled, “Dennis Johnson, UTech, Jamaica and the Jamaican Sprint Factory” on Thursday, March 7, 2019 at the University’s Papine Campus.

A video clip of Jamaica’s 36.85 seconds world record victory in the men’s 4 x 100M with the quartet of Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, Yohan Blake and Usain Bolt at the 2012 London Olympics, provided a nostalgic adrenaline rush and backdrop for the lecture, which sought to present the inextricable link between Jamaica’s sprint dominance since the decades of the 2000s and the legendary Dennis Johnson, renowned coach and Olympian who has pioneered the successful development of the sports programme at the University of Technology, Jamaica.


Greetings were brought by Mrs. Florette Blackwood, Consultant, Sport Policy Development and Innovation in the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, on behalf of the Minister, Honourable Olivia Grange. The Minister’s message commended UTech, Jamaica on the celebration of its 60th Anniversary, noting that the university as one of Jamaica’s premier institutions, “has become a world leader in technology education” and a “trail blazer in sport sciences.”  The minister asserted that UTech, Jamaica’s “academic achievement, sporting prowess, excellence and distinction are all embodied in Dennis Johnson who is recognised internationally for his contribution to the development of athletics.”

Mrs. Blackwood also advised on behalf of Minister Grange, that the National Sport Museum which she noted will “proudly display and acknowledge this great son of Jamaica,” is in an advanced stage of being established.

The Lecture was chaired by Professor Stephen Vasciannie, President, University of Technology, Jamaica. The President thanked Professor Gyles for accepting the invitation to deliver the 60th Anniversary Distinguished Lecture highlighting the pivotal role played by Dennis Johnson in establishing the University as a centre of excellence in sports. The President also noted that Professor Gyles as a multidisciplinary scientist, has lent his passion for the application of science to the development of coaching courses in various sports, including, football, netball and cricket in collaboration with their respective national umbrella organizations. Professor Gyles was also instrumental in the establishment of the Faculty of Science and Sport at UTech, Jamaica in 2009 and served as the Faculty’s first Dean.

Professor Gyles was introduced by Dr. Kamilah Hylton, Dean, Faculty of Science and Sport.  The Vote of Thanks was ably moved by Mrs. Nodley Wright, Executive Assistant, FOSS.

Mr. Dennis Johnson who arrived to welcoming applause from the large gathering of members of faculty, staff, students and members of the sports fraternity, was on hand to respond to questions and recommendations which ensued in a robust question and answer session following the lecture.


Mr. Dennis Johnson (left) responds to questions during the Question and Answer session at the Distinguished Public Lecture.

Family: Professor Colin Gyles (centre), Deputy President, University of Technology, Jamaica and Mr. Dennis Johnson (3rd left) pose with President, Professor Vasciannie (left), and members of their respective families (from  left), Mr. Peter Johnson, son, Dennis Johnson, Mr. Daniel Gyles, son, Professor Gyles, Mrs.  Marlene Pottinger-Gyles, wife and Miss Kristen Gyles, daughter.


Michelle Beckford (Mrs.)
Corporate Communications Manager
University of Technology, Jamaica
Telephone: 970-5299
Email: mbeckford@utech.edu.jm