They were considered two athletes well ahead of their time. But as time slowly slips away, Sir Durward ‘Sea Wolf’ Knowles can only help but reflect on the glory days he encountered with the late Thomas ‘Augustus’ Robinson.
#Although they were separated by the sporting disciplines they came from, Knowles said he was in awe of Robinson’s accomplishment in the track and field stadium as the renowned international sprinter was of his achievement on the water as a legendary sailor.
#Together, the duo made some historic strides that are being relived through the passing of Robinson on Sunday after a long illness with cancer.
#“It’s hard to remember how long we go back, but in certain instances when we took part,” Knowles said. “Both of us were ahead of our time, but we had a lot of things in common. I remember in 1956 in Melbourne, Australia, I was supposed to carry the flag, but I got sick on that day and Tommy decided to carry it.
#“That year, the Bahamas won its first Olympic medal and we in sailing was quite pleased with the performance. Tommy didn’t win a medal, but he was the first Bahamian to qualify to compete in track and field. That was just as much an accomplishment for the Bahamas as it was for me and Sloane Farrington in the Star Class of sailing.”
#While Robinson went on to represent the Bahamas in four consecutive Olympics, Knowles had the distinct honour of being a seven-time Olympian, the lastest feat by any Bahamian and, in most cases, one of the longest by any athlete that participated in the global sporting spectacular.
#“Unfortunately, the only thing he didn’t do was win an Olympic medal, but I remember in 1964 when I was returning from the course in sailing after me and Cecil Cooke won the gold medal, I heard on the loud speaker that Tommy Robinson made it to the final, but pulled a muscle as he was competing.
#“So you see the connection that we had. He was indeed an outstanding Bahamian. He was a great friend of mine. Even though we competed in different sports, we still kept close.”
#Besides their fame in the sporting arena, Knowles felt that Robinson possessed some of the finest attributes as a person.
#“Tommy lived a life of giving. How many of us today can claim that?” said Knowles, a philanthropist. “Most of us are on the take side. But Tommy gave back to this country more than he ever received. You could give credit to Tommy for all of the success that we are now achieving in track and field. Something that I was able to do in sailing with my crew.
#“He was the lone competitor carrying the flag for the Bahamas and when you look back on what he did then, it’s hard to imagine just how he did it. Today, all of the success that we now have in track and field must be given to Tommy. It’s amazing how humble he was. I wasn’t as humble. I think I was more out-spoken.
#“Thank God the government named the new stadium after him before he passed away. He really got to appreciate it because he worked on getting it off the ground and was able to see it when it was finished. My only regret is that he wasn’t knighted as I was because he truly deserved it,” Knowles added.
#Knowles and Robinson were later united as one when they shared the stage together at the Thomas A Robinson Track and Field Stadium to light the flame to start the first Bahamas Games. They were also among the list of five distinguished Bahamian athletes who were inducted into the first National Hall of Fame by the Bahamas Government.
#“We proved that despite competing in different sports and enjoying a lot of success that would have put each of us on the top of our stage, we could co-exist together,” Knowles said. “I think when we got to light the torch for Bahamas Games, that was one of the crowning moments of all Bahamians coming together as one.
#“Today, the race is not as divided as it used to be. We accomplished a lot separately, but what we did together on that day said a lot about what we can do as a people.”
#Knowles, who celebrated his 95th birthday on November 2, said that while they competed, succeeded and were recognised, he will hope that he can live up to the status of 74-year-old Robinson when his time on earth is done. He offered his condolences to Robinson’s family and assured them that he lived a life that all will emulate and remember forever.