Mason bolts from the blue with leap to unlikely silver

Well, it could have been more of a surprise. But only if the towering Jamaican draped in a Union Flag celebrating a British medal had been Usain Bolt. In fact, Bolt shot into the Mixed Zone, the area deep in the bowels of Beijing's Bird's Nest Stadium, to wrap his arms around Great Britain's first track and field medallist of the 2008 Olympic Games. If only the world's fastest man had been blessed with a father born in England's capital city.

Still, British athletics is grateful that Germaine Mason happens to be the son of a Londoner. He still speaks with a Kingston accent – Kingston, Jamaica, that is. He still lives there, too, for most of the year. But when the bar was raised to 2.34m in the men's high jump final yesterday the 24-year-old was wearing the red, white and blue of Team GB as he soared to claim the unlikeliest of silver medals.

No one in the packed out, 91,000-seater stadium seemed more pleased for him than Bolt, who had just qualified for today's 200m final, half-jogging to victory in his semi-final in 20.09sec. "We're friends from way back," Bolt said. "I'm very happy for him because he's been through a lot. He had knee surgery and he's coming back now. It doesn't matter who he competes for. I'm happy for him."

The pair were medal winners for Jamaica at the World Junior Championships in Kingston in 2002. Since then Mason has been on some journey to make it to the Olympic podium, behind Andrei Solonov of Russia, who won with 2.36m, and as Britain's first high jump medallist since Steve Smith in 1996. His switch of allegiance came in 2006, after a falling out with Stephen Francis, the coach he shared with Asafa Powell. He has based himself in Birmingham for the European summer season thereafter, joining Birchfield Harriers, but such has been his injury-hampered form he was dropped from UK Athletics' Lottery Funding list last November.

"That's one of the things that motivated me to come out here and do my best," Mason said, "because track and field is not a sport that pays a lot.It's very tough. But that doesn't matter. I'm here, silver medallist."

Indeed he was, but did he feel British or Jamaican? "I feel very British," he said. "Great Britain is my home and that's the way it's going to be for ever."

So was Birmingham his home? "It's Jamaica," he said. "I spend six months a year in Jamaica. Since last winter I've been training with Stephen Francis's group again. Then I come to Europe and do the European circuit."

It is little wonder that Mason appears confused. His father, David, was born in London but lives in Jamaica. His mother, Carol, is Jamaican but has lived in Acton, west London, since 1988. He also happens to be a Bolton Wanderers supporter. He was brought up in the same street in Kingston as Ricardo Gardener, the Wanderers midfielder.

The fact that Mason possesses a world-class talent has also got somewhat confused, amid faltering form and lingering injury problems. He was ranked third in the world in 2003 and won a bronze medal at the World Indoor Championships in 2004. His success can only act as an inspiration to British high jumpers. There were two with him in the final yesterday, Tom Parsons placing eighth and Martyn Barnard ninth, both with 2.25m.

Sadly, there was no medal for Andy Baddeley in the men's 1500m final, the British hope finishing ninth in 3min 35.37sec as Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain held off Kenya's Asbel Kiprop for gold. Still, there was a hint of medal potential in Martyn Rooney's raking stride as he registered the fourth fastest qualifying time for tomorrow's 400m final – 44.60sec, a personal best.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
Sport
football
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us