Arthur Stanley Wint: The ultimate student athlete

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Arthur Stanley Wint: The ultimate student athlete

BY Kevin Gwyn L Jones

Monday, May 25, 2020

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May 25, 2020 will mark the 100th year since the birth of Dr Arthur Stanley Wint, born on May 25, 1920, in Plowden, Manchester. The Jamaica Association of Sports Medicine (JASM) would like to acknowledge this landmark of a true Jamaica icon, who served as one of our founding members and the first president back in 1979.

Dr Wint was the second of five children for Reverend John Wint, a Presbyterian minister, and his wife Hilda. He attended Calabar High School in the 1930s, where he excelled in athletics being crowned class champion at Boys' Champs in Class 3 in 1932 and 1933, after winning the sprint double on both occasions and helping Calabar to their third and fourth Champs titles. In 1937 he won the Class 1 220-yard and 440-yard races and placed second in the high jump, helping Calabar to yet another title and being crowned champion athlete in the process. He subsequently transferred to Excelsior High School for his final year of high school.

His first major international success as an athlete came at the 1938 Pan Am Games in Panama, where he won gold in the 800 metres event. He subsequently went on to become a part of a group of the first West Indians to be recruited by the British Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1942. He commenced pilot training in Canada and went on to receive his wings in 1944 and become a Spitfire pilot in World War II. He left the air force in 1947 after winning a scholarship to train as a doctor at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London (founded 1123), however this did not stop him from continuing to pursue his passion for track and field. This earned him a spot on the Jamaican team to the 1948 Olympics in London. By the time the Olympics came around, Wint was already in England, having just completed his first year of medical school, and this allowed him to avoid the 24-day banana boat ride from Jamaica to the UK. At the London Olympics it is well known how he won a silver medal in the 800 metres and then went on to win the gold medal in the 400 metres, becoming Jamaica's first individual Olympic gold medal winner, while beating his teammate and pre-race favourite Herb McKinley in the process. An injury while running the third leg of the 4x400m relay prevented him from winning a third medal at these Olympics Games.

Wint would recover from his injury and make the Jamaican team to the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland, during his final year of medical school. After winning another silver medal in the 800 metres he placed fifth in the 400-metres final, following a win in his semi-final at near a full second faster than his time in the final. His semi-final time would have given him the bronze medal in the final for a Jamaica sweep of the medals. He subsequently went on to run the opening leg of the 4x400m relay team which went on to win Olympic gold and break the world record behind one of the greatest-ever relay legs of all time by the late, great Herb McKinley.

After the 1952 Olympics Wint went on to complete his final year of medical school and internship at St Barts and graduate as a doctor in 1953. During this time period, he competed in his final race at Wembley Stadium. The following year he was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) by Queen Elizabeth II.

He returned to Jamaica in 1955 and worked in Lucea, serving the people of Hanover and its surroundings. He subsequently moved on to become the senior medical officer (SMO) of Linstead Hospital, where he set up permanent residence and raised his family.

In 1973 he was awarded the Order of Distinction and went on to serve as Jamaica's high commissioner to Britain and ambassador to Sweden and Denmark from 1974 to 1978. He was inducted into the Black Athletes Hall of Fame in the United States in 1977, the Jamaica Sports Hall of Fame in 1989, and the Central American & Caribbean Athletic Confederation Hall of Fame in 2003.

A man of great stature, at 6 feet 5 inches tall, because of his quiet demeanour he was affectionately referred to as the “Gentle Giant”. As a student athlete, Wint recognised the important role of the balance between academics and sports, which helped provide the platform for him to pursue a career in medicine and, as a health care professional, he recognised the role sports medicine could play in providing athletes with the means to achieve athletic success.

Based on this, along with the late Professor Sir John Golding and other local health care professionals, in 1979 they formed the JASM. He was the first president of the association, which has the mission to provide optimal care for national athletes through treatment, rehabilitation, injury prevention, and education, which have remained the cornerstone of the association to this day.

Up until the date of his death, on Heroes' Day in 1992, Dr Wint continued to provide leadership and mentorship for JASM members and has served as a great inspiration and mentor to student athletes and medical doctors like myself and many others, who continue to strive to follow in his footsteps.

Dr Kevin Gwyn L Jones is 2019-2021 president of Jamaica Association of Sports Medicine. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or jamaicasportsmed@gmail.com.


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