Shane Cahill

Australian Journalist Harry Gordon was visiting the Australian Gallery of Sport then under construction at the Melbourne Cricket Ground which was the Main Stadium of the 1956 Olympics. I was working as a consultant to the gallery which was to open with an Olympic exhibition to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the XV1th Olympiad in November 1986. I mentioned to Harry that while the gallery had an unrivalled collection of Olympic material a significant piece was held in the national Library of Australia and that I was arranging for a copy to be made for the opening of the gallery.

“Where Are You, John Ian Wing?” asked Harry in the heading of essay in Time magazine the next week. Within twenty four hours a Melbourne radio station was on the case and a day later had tracked John down in London where he had been living there since 1969.

John was brought to Melbourne for the opening of the gallery and has been recognized by his native city, the educational institutions where he studied and the Olympic Movement for his remarkable cultural achievement.

I was privileged to meet and interview John and find out how watching from his bedroom window above his father’s restaurant in 1956, the time when the world teetered on the brink of nuclear war, he watched people joyfully spilling out of the theatre in joyous disorder. This was the origin of John’s Olympic idea which he wrote and illustrated for Sir Wilfred who had the vision to allow it to be implemented. John did not have tickets for the MCG on December 8 1956 but the record he created in the Olympic Ceremony that day is one that will never be bettered

Shane Cahill

Australia’s national capital Canberra can be a cold and grey place in the middle of winter. Stuck in the basement of the National Library of Australia as the last of the June afternoon light faded, I was determined to plough through the remaining files of Sir Wilfred Kent Hughes’ correspondence regarding the preparations for the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.

It was 1985 and I was in the early stages of the research for my Master of Arts at the University of Melbourne and the characters and conflicts of the events of thirty years earlier were proving very elusive. As I folded one single spaced typed letter after another and peered at cryptic spider writing on others, the fluorescent tubes cast a dull light over the beige filing cabinets and desks of the basement room of which by now I was the sole occupant.

And into this gloom burst the next letter – a wild flurry of dots and dashes in all the colours of the rainbow. What was this?? Had one of the squabbling members of the Organising Committee spent too long at lunch?

No – I read on and it was the inspired notion of 17 year old John Ian Wing to have the athletes of the world to conclude the Olympic Games in happy, joyous disorder. John Ian Wing – who was he and where is he now?

Every Wing in the Melbourne phone book received a call from me but no one knew of their John Ian namesake. The excitement of that day in Canberra, gave way to my determination to ensure that John Ian Wing be located and acknowledged for his great gift to the Olympics and world peace.

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