CROSS KEYS, Manchester — Sports Minister Olivia "Babsy" Grange is moving to have May 25 proclaimed Arthur Wint Day in honour of Olympic hero Dr Arthur Wint.
Wint, who was born on May 25, 1920, at Plowden in south Manchester, earned four medals at the Olympic Games, including Jamaica's first-ever gold medal at the 1948 Olympics in London 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.
Grange, who also has ministerial responsibility for culture, gender and entertainment, described Dr Wint as Plowden's most illustrious son.
"He touched the lives of the people from all stations and walks of life. From the fishermen on Negril Beach with whom he played dominoes to royalty and senior politicians with whom he carried out his nation's business," Grange said in a speech delivered by Manchester Southern Member of Parliament (MP) Robert Chin.
"It is, therefore, with great pleasure that I announce today [Monday] that I will be writing to the governor general to have May 25 proclaimed as Arthur Wint Day. Nothing less could be done for this illustrious son of Plowden, Manchester, Arthur Stanley Wint, than to have a day bearing his name…," added Grange.
Signs and storyboards were on Monday unveiled in honour of Dr Wint in Plowden and Cross Keys.
Grange lauded the efforts of the Manchester Parish Development Committee (PDC), Cross Keys Area Development Committee and MP Chin for honouring Dr Wint.
"It is indeed a noble gesture, one that I am sure is dear to the heart of the community and I dare say to Jamaica considering the achievements of our first Olympic gold medallist. One who was a Royal Air Force (RAF) pilot, a medical doctor and a diplomat… He helped to put Jamaica on the world map," said Grange.
Chin, who is a Calabar old boy, said he was introduced to Dr Wint's athletic life in 1982.
"When you go to a school like Calabar High School and you have persons like Dr Arthur Wint and Herb McKenley who attended Calabar High School you know they indoctrinate you to believe and aspire to the heights of these great men," he said.
He is hoping that Dr Wint's achievements will motivate young people in southern Manchester.
"Dr Arthur Wint won the first gold medal for Jamaica in 1948 and that was drilled in our heads early as you are in first form at Calabar. Without a doubt it inspired our athletes at Calabar to achieve that greatness and that is what I want to achieve here for Dr Wint's achievements to inspire the young people of this constituency to achieve greatness," he said.
"I just want the young people to recognise that current circumstances do not dictate where you go in the future," he added.
He commended the Manchester PDC for spearheading the initiative for the recognition of Dr Wint's birthplace in southern Manchester.
"In school I learnt about Dr Wint the athlete and it was not until this initiative in the planning stage that I learnt about Dr Wint the RAF pilot, Dr Wint the doctor, Dr Wint the diplomat… so there is so much about this great man that if it wasn't for this project I would not have known," said Chin.
Chairman of the Manchester PDC Anthony Freckleton commended the Cross Keys Area Development Committee for conceptualising the commemoration of Dr Wint.
"The moment I heard about it I wrote a two-page letter to the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and I called the MP Mr [Robert] Chin and he had to sign the letter too, so while I was down here working. He was in Parliament working to ensure that we got the funds necessary to erect the signs and the storyboards across our community," said Freckleton.
"Never again will anybody have to ask 'where is this community' — welcome to Plowden the [birthplace] of Dr Arthur Stanley Wint," added Freckleton.
Dr Wint's daughter, Colleen Wint-Bond, thanked the Manchester PDC and its partners for honouring her father.
"We are all so grateful for this opportunity and this honour to see all the signs and to have this event in his name, it really is such an honour and as we went around this morning unveiling a lot of the signs and the storyboards. It really brought tears to my eyes, because I know he [Wint] would be so very proud," she said.
"I think one of the important things about events like today. The thought and imagination of the committees to honour him in this way speaks to his sense of self, his commitment to anything he put his mind to and his passion is one of the important things," she added.
She lauded the Jamaica National Circle, TEF, and the Social Development Commission (SDC) for supporting the Arthur Wint Day celebration.
"Family which was so important to him is something that this event [shows]. I see people out with their children and I think it is an important day, especially after we celebrate independence," she said.
The inaugural celebration also saw the Mandeville JN Circle donating equipment to boost an agro processing facility and improve the Cross Keys community centre.
"Next year when you come, you will be able to purchase ketchup, sauces, jams and jellies made in Cross Keys," said Freckleton.