British Olympic high jump silver medallist Germaine Mason has died aged 34 after a motorcycle crash in Jamaica.
The Jamaica-born athlete, who switched to represent Great Britain in 2006, won silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
He was a friend of sprinter Usain Bolt, who was on the scene soon after the crash at 04:20 local time on Thursday.
“Usain Bolt was part of the group that came by and he was very, very emotional, and still is,” said Senior Superintendent Calvin Allen.
Senior Supt Allen, commanding officer of the Jamaican police traffic and highway division, told the BBC: “I understand they are very close friends.”
He was unable to say whether Mason had been in Bolt’s company that evening, or if the eight-time Olympic champion was in a following vehicle.
Mason won Britain’s first athletics medal of the Beijing Games, finishing second behind Russian Andrey Silnov.
British Olympic champions Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Denise Lewis and Linford Christie have all paid tribute, with Christie saying he would never be forgotten.
‘The entire country grieves’
Senior Supt Allen said the former high jumper had been travelling from the direction of the airport towards Kingston when the accident happened.
“Our information suggests he lost control of the motorcycle and fell to the ground and received serious injuries, mainly to his face, head and upper body,” he said.
“The evidence suggests he was not wearing a protective helmet.
“He was transported to hospital in Kingston where he was sadly pronounced dead.
“A number of his friends and associates were on the scene. I understand they arrived as soon as they heard. He was a person who was well loved by many.
“It is a very mournful time in Jamaica. The entire country grieves for this standout athlete. It is very, very sad. We want to express our deepest condolences at the untimely death.”
Jamaica prime minister Andrew Holness tweeted: “Our sincere condolences to the entire sporting fraternity.”
‘A truly lovely man’
Mason claimed world indoor bronze for Jamaica in 2003 and recovered after suffering a career-threatening knee injury the following year.
He was eligible to represent Britain because his father David was born in London, and he switched allegiance two years before the Beijing Games.
On his Olympic debut, he managed 2.34m at his first attempt, with favourite Silnov the only athlete to clear 2.36m.
British Athletics senior high jump coach Fuzz Caan, who worked closely with Mason at the time of his Olympic success, called him an “outstanding athlete and a truly lovely man.”
“He had a wry sense of humour and was a pleasure to be around. He was a great ambassador of British high jumping. It is an honour for us to have him as part of our sporting history,” he said.
UK Athletics chief executive Niels de Vos said staff were saddened to hear of Mason’s death.
“Our deepest sympathies go to Germaine’s friends, family and the athletics community at this difficult time,” he said.