Duncan White – Sri Lanka’s supreme Olympian

Duncan White brought Ceylon's first Olympic medal at the London Games in 1948.

Duncan White brought Ceylon’s first Olympic medal at the London Games in 1948.

Duncan White struck gold  at the British Empire Games in Auckland in 1950.

Duncan White struck gold at the British Empire Games in Auckland in 1950.

Vernon Corea was 21 years old when Duncan White won a silver medal in the Summer Games of the London Olympics of 1948 – there was great excitement in Ceylon, there was no television in Sri Lanka only radio and Radio Ceylon was the station that everyone tuned into the station. He was the toast of Ceylon with an amazing performance in the 400 metres of hurdles with a timing of 51.8 secs in the XIVth olympiad held in London.

Duncan White followed it up with a gold in the 400 metre hurdles in the British Empire Games in Auckland in 1950. Vernon listened to Radio Ceylon and read the Ceylon Daily News like everyone else – they were so proud of Duncan White – Sri Lanka’s supreme Olympian who passed away in 1998. Earlier that year, Duncan White, like Vernon’s son Ivan, presented Sri Lanka’s Sprint Queen Susanthika Jayasinghe with a special award not knowing that she too will bring glory by winning a medal in the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Duncan White was interviewed on Radio Ceylon on his return from London in 1948. Durncan White at one time could not even afford a pair of track shoes but the man born near Kalutara and educated at Trinity College, Kandy went on to become one of Asia’s great athletes and put Ceylon on the map in world athletics.

Duncan White returns to Ceylon a hero  after winning a Silver Medal at the London O;ympics of 1948.

Duncan White returns to Ceylon a hero after winning a Silver Medal at the London O;ympics of 1948.

Rare footage of the opening ceremony of the London Olympics of 1948:

Rare footage of Duncan White winning gold in the British Empire Games in Auckland in 1950:

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