Activist Athlete Gareth Henry Plays On

In stories of success, there is usually stories of struggle. This is no truer than for Gareth Henry. Born in Mandeville, Jamaica, Gareth grew up in a badminton family. His sister Geordine Henry is also a professional player and between 2008 and 2016 they played doubles together winning six times. Just as important in his life was J-Flag. The Jamaica Forum For Lesbians, All-sexuals, and Gays. He took over leadership of this organization after the current leader was murdered. He entered into activism knowing how dangerous it would be for him in Jamaica.

His stature in sports did not protect him from prejudice. He watched many friends die who were hunted down and killed because of their sexuality. He was threatened constantly by police and public and was often wondering when his life would come to an end next.

Through all this, Gareth Henry still managed his badminton career. In 2008 he fled to Canada on Asylum, knowing that he would be hunted down and killed if he did not leave. He had already been attacked severely in a mob which made headlines all over the country. After receiving no help from the Jamaican Ministry of Justice he is holding the Jamaican government accountable.

Gareth Henry’s goals of making it to the Olympics kept him focused even going through such displacement and discrimination. He continued to win every All Jamaica Senior Badminton Championship until he could start competing internationally. Once out on the international circuit, it was up to him to gain enough points to be considered for an Olympic team.

In 2018 Gareth Henry is finding continued success with his doubles partner, Samuel O’brian Ricketts. They succeeded in winning the gold at the Central American and Caribbean Games this year. He was also part of the 2018 Pan Am Men’s Team Championships winning the team bronze. No doubt we will continue to see Gareth Henry stay Jamaica’s most successful badminton player for years to come.

Badminton, Entrepreneur

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