JOA pays homage to Olympic giant Arthur Wint
THE Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), the country’s apex sporting body, bestowed special tribute upon legendary track and field icon Dr Arthur Wint for his “historic and pioneering” achievements as one of Jamaica’s “greatest athletes and administrators”.The accolades, which were paid by JOA President Christopher Samuda and Ryan Foster, the association’s ceo/secretary general, were occasioned on the 100th anniversary of the birth of the history-making Jamaica Olympian, who was born on May 25, 1920, in Plowden, Manchester. He earned four medals at the Olympic Games.At the 1948 Olympics in London, Wint, who was nicknamed “Gentle Giant”, won Jamaica’s first-ever Olympic gold medal when he took the 400 metres in 46.2 seconds to defeat his also legendary and long-time Jamaica and Calabar High School teammate, Herb McKenley. The lanky runner also attended Excelsior.Wint, 28 years old at the time and captain of the Jamaica team, also won the silver medal in the 800 metres at those Olympic Games, beaten only by American Mal Whitfield, and missed out on a third medal when he suffered a pulled muscle while running the third leg in the 4×400 metres relay final.Four years later, Wint would return to the Olympic Games, this time in Helsinki, Finland, where he won two medals – silver in the 800 metres, when he was again beaten by Whitfield, and gold as a member of Jamaica’s record-setting (3:03.9 minutes) 4×400 metres team that also included McKenley, George Rhoden, and Leslie Laing.In a tribute titled The Olympic spirit in Wint, Samuda shared: “The length of his stride was not just in yards, but in measureless value. The depth of his footprints was not just earthbound, but commanding. The height of the man was not just imposing, but inspiring. The breadth of his integrity was not merely wide, but all-embracing.“In Arthur Wint stood not only an Olympian, but a gentleman whose character and scholarship went beyond his athletic achievements, which were indeed august. In Arthur Wint resides history and, at the same time, the future of his earthly run was historic, as it was pioneering.“Statistics will continue to record the times of his life with laser precision, and historians will scribe, with homage, his athletic pedigree and pilgrimage. But it is the stature and honour of the man that we find his quintessential bequest,” said Samuda.“On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth, we reflect, as an Olympic movement, on his life spent not only in sport, but generally with humanity, and are inspired beyond the centenary. In Wint, the Olympic spirit ascends. In Wint, the Olympic spirit transcends generations,” Samuda noted of Wint, a physician by profession, who also served as Jamaica’s high commissioner to London from 1974 to 1978.He was awarded the Order of Jamaica by the Government in 1989.Foster highlighted Wint’s storied and rich legacy.He said: “The Jamaica Olympic Association celebrates the life and historic achievements of our beloved son of the soil, Dr Arthur Wint. His achievements have been storied, and have been a part of Jamaica’s rich history at the Olympic Games, especially in track and field. Dr Wint was one of the greatest and most respected athletes and administrators in the Olympic history of Jamaica.”Continuing, Foster said: “We acknowledge Dr Wint’s dedication and passion for the Jamaican Olympic journey. He has left an enduring legacy which we all can be proud of and one in which we all can seek to emulate.His life has had a far-reaching impact on the Jamaican and global landscape, and his name will always resonate as Jamaica’s first Olympic gold medallist. We are so thankful for what he has accomplished and for what his dedication, loyalty, and tenacity brought to our country, which will forever live on.”Honoured eternally with a statue depicting his trademark running form at the National Stadium in Kingston, Wint also served in the Royal Air Force and at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in England, while undergoing medical studies. He died at age 72 in October, 1992.(Reprinted from Jamaica Observer).