Stanislite Dr Owen Pinto who missed Asian Games glory


by Pradeep Vijayakar
Assistant Editor
TheTimes of India (1961-66)
Mumbai: Among the finest athletes from St Stanislaus still lving is Dr Owen Pinto. He turned 80 on December 3. He isn't greatly mobile because of diabetes and neuropathy and clot in the brain. Let us pray for him.Dr Owen Pinto, father of eminent cardiolgist Dr Brian and gynaec Dr Susan and Jillian and husband of Dr Cynthia a dentist. He was among India's finest runners of 50s. He was in school in the 40s.

In 1951 around the time of the inaugural Asian Games Owen Pinto was notching the best timings in Asia in the 400 metres. But a hamstring injury during the All India University meet at Allahabad left him unfit for the Asian Games. He could also have gone to the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games that followed but missed out to others as he was burdened with final year medical studies and could not train as hard as the others like Ivan Jacob who got the berth.

Recalls the doc:``I was running the 100m in 10.8, 200m in 22.2, and the 400m below fifty. The Japanese who won took more than 50 secs. at the first Asiad. At the varsity meet the starter allowed Patna's Sati Ghosh to jump the gun. I tried to make up darting to the tape and fell over and tore a hamstring fibre. Pandit Nehru at the Asiad told me `I want gold from you'. I told him, `how can I with this injury'. He said `I will arrange the best treatment' but that wasn't enough.''

The doctor however forgets his own pain when he recalls how injury killed Henry Rebello's medal chances at the 1948 Olympiad in the hop step and jump.``He had leapt to 52 feet. The world record of 51 ft was within his reach but he got injured and then disheartened and gave up.''

Dr Owen put behind his disappointments and launched into serving humanity becoming a general practicioner in Bandra and Santacruz, had his children also taking up medicine (son Dr Brian heads the Heart Institute at Holy Family and daughter Susan is a gynaec at Holy Spirit while wife Cynthia was a dentist).

The doctor also pioneered sports medicine in the city along with Dr Rajan Jain at Balabhai Nanavati Hospital Santacruz under the dynamic Suresh Sheth getting the likes Dr Anant Joshi and Dr Ali Irani involved.

Above all the doctor became the right hand man of Mother Teresa when she was in Mumbai from 1962 to 1970 and was responsible for galvanizing the doctors at the Balabhai Nanavati Hospital into action when she fell seriously ill so that she made a speedy recovery in just three days and coolly walked out to serve the people without even a discharge card!

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