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Vale John Winter

John Winter
December 3, 1924 - December 5, 2007

Athletics Australia was saddened to learn of the passing of John Winter, who died peacefully after a short battle with poor health.

Western Australia’s first Olympic gold medallist, Winter triumphed in the high jump at the 1948 London Olympic Games with a leap of 6 foot 6 inches (around 1.98m).

Almost 60 years have passed since that day and Winter remains the only Australian to have ever captured gold in the high jump, as well as the last Australian athlete to win an Olympic gold medal in the field.

A tall, lean man, Winter was one of the last international jumpers to use the eastern cut-off and had cleared 6 foot 7-and-a-half inches in the lead-up to London.

The then-Olympic record of 6 foot 8 inches (the world record was 6 foot 11) had been cleared by American team members in preparation, who felt that they could better it in competition. Therefore, the felt Winter posed little threat.

They may have thought differently when he was one of five athletes remaining, including two Americans, when the bar was raised to 6 foot 6. Winter was the only one to clear it, doing so on his first attempt.

Winter’s career also included the 1948 British title, the 1948 Irish championship and captaincy of the British Empire team that competed against the USA after the Olympic Games. Again, he won the high jump in clearing 6 foot 6.

He retired at the age of 27, 10 months after winning the Auckland British Empire Games gold medal in 1950 - yet again, on that magical height.

In retirement, John remained a valued member of the Olympic Movement in Western Australia, generously inspiring and supporting others who had their own Olympic dreams.

Athletics Australia extends its sympathy to the family of the great John Winter.

He was 83.

Information and image courtesy Sport Australia Hall of Fame and WA Olympic Council

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