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.