‘Anything is possible’: Jamaican athlete touches hearts at Special Olympics World Games

young man in a yellow tank top and black shorts sitting in a wheel chair showing off the medal around his neck.
Jamaica’s Kirk Wint celebrates his silver medal in the 50m dash at the Special Olympic World Games - running in his own way.

He kneels down, resting his hands on the ground in front of his body. He then slowly drags his feet towards his arms. He starts running, gnashing his teeth and using his arms to support himself. He feels as if his knees are being pierced by sharp arrows. He closes his eyes, he tells himself he can do it and he keeps moving forward. He opens his eyes and all of a sudden people are clapping and cheering for him. A silver medal is now resting on his chest. He made it.

Abject poverty stood between him and his desire, but it did not break him. His strong will prevailed. Kirk Wint (Special Olympics Jamaica) was born with both intellectual and physical disabilities and his parents could not afford to buy a wheelchair for him, so he had to learn how to walk and run using his arms and knees. He now does it successfully at the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.

BOLT OF INSPIRATION

Like most Jamaicans, Kirk is inspired by Usain Bolt, who congratulated him on his success. “Jamaican Special Olympics athlete Kirk Wint won a silver medal in 50m dash at the Special Olympics World Games in Dubai,” Usain Bolt wrote on Facebook. “Respect goes out to all Special Olympians. Anything is possible.”

Kirk is 17 and he lives in St. Thomas, the poorest parish in Jamaica. Since he arrived in Dubai, where the athletics are taking place at this year’s World Games, he keeps looking up towards the sky with awe. He is astounded by the buildings and the lights here, the image of a city that he could have never imagined.

His first time competing at the Special Olympics World Games was in 2015, in Los Angeles. That year, he won a gold medal for the softball throw. In the 50-metre run, the category that he holds dearest to his heart, he came fourth.

DETERMINATION

He is now back, hungry for glory, more than ever been before. As a result, he has just won the silver medal in the 50-metre run. “I love you mommy” were his first words after he ran 50 metres in 15.06 seconds. His mum is his person, the person he leans when he is tired, who holds his hand when he is laughing, his rock, Kirk’s coach, Andre Johnstone told AIPS.

EFFORT

The road to victory was long, it took years of hard physical training. “He attends every single training,” Johnstone concluded. And it paid off.

This article was produced as part of the AIPS Young Reporters Programme at the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, generously supported by the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF).