Olympic Gold Medallist, John Devitt, has co-authored a biography of his hero, Olympic Gold Medallist Cecil Healy.
Healy remains Australia’s only Olympic Gold Medallist to die at war.
At the Stockholm Olympics in 1912, he was responsible for one of the greatest sporting gestures in the history of Australian sport.
The centenary of Cecil Healy’s death occured on August 29.
Cecil Healy was just 36 when he died in France in 1918, but he achieved plenty in a remarkable life. He was at the forefront of Australia’s first great era of swimming, the nation’s early Olympic experiences and the rise of the surf lifesaving movement. He was an evocative journalist and hard-working administrator who helped organise the famous visit of Duke Kahanamoku to Australia in 1915, an adventure that inspired generations of surfboard riders. At the Stockholm Games, Healy refused to swim in the 100-metres final unless the Duke, the favourite, was allowed to compete. The great Hawaiian had missed his semi-final after a misunderstanding over the starting time. Healy’s gesture cost him victory but earned him a place in sport’s pantheon of true champions. The contrast between his conduct and recent sporting controversies such as cricket’s ball-tampering affair is stark.
John Devitt won gold medals at the 1956 and 1960 Olympics. He is pictured above (centre) at Healy’s grave in France, which he visited with co-author Larry Writer in 2017. As an elite young swimmer, as a resident of Manly on Sydney’s northern beaches, where Healy once lived, and as a noted swimming historian, Devitt became engrossed in the Healy legend. This book became a labour of love. ‘Our quest was exhaustive,’ he says of the research and writing process. ‘Cecil Healy deserves no less.’
Cecil Healy: A Biography is available for purchase now at all good book stores.
CECIL HEALY: A BIOGRAPHY is published by Stoke Hill Press. For more information about the book, or to arrange an interview with John Devitt or Larry Writer, please contact publisher Geoff Armstrong on the numbers listed above or via the Stoke Hill Press website: www.stokehillpress.com