Sunday, 9 October 2011

Paris 1900 - The Highlights.

Here are just a few of the historic moments from the 1900 Games.

The croquet tournament marked the first appearance of women at Olympic level. The French dominated (all but one team being French) and a single paying spectator attended the tournament, an elderly English gentleman who had travelled specially from Nice.

Charles de Venville stayed submerged for over a minute to win the underwater swimming event.

In the marathon Arthur Newton of the United States finished fifth but stated he had not been passed by another runner throughout. Another American, Richard Grant, was run down by a patriotic cyclist as he made ground on the French leaders. The French took home gold and silver but were the only team not covered in mud at the finish, thereby arousing some suspicion and allegations of short cuts.

Margaret Ives Abbott, a student of art from Chicago, played in and won a nine hole golf tournament. She died in 1955 without being aware that the tournament was part of the Olympic Games and she had become America's first ever female Olympic champion.

In addition to the official games which included Tug of War, Tennis, football and the swimming obstacle race there was angling, ballooning, boules, cannon shooting, fire fighting, kite flying, life saving and both pigeon racing and live pigeon shooting, hopefully not on the same day.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

1896 - Athens - The birth of the modern Olympics.

Colonel Papadiamantopoulos gave the starting signal for the marathon field, the first marathon held since the days of Ancient Greece.

Off went thirteen Greek competitors, among them Spiridon Louis, and four from other nations. The early leader was Albin Lermusiaux of France, who had earlier placed third in the 1500 metres. In the town of Pikermi, Louis made a stop at a local inn to drink a glass of wine, though his grandson (also called Spiridon Louis) claims that he had half an orange and a glass of cognac.

After 32 km, Lermusiaux was exhausted, and had to abandon the race after a collapse. The lead was taken by Edwin Flack, an Australian runner who had already taken the Olympic 800 and 1500m titles. Louis closed in on Flack and the Australian, not used to running long distances, collapsed a few kilometers onwards, giving Louis the lead.

When Louis arrived the stadium erupted with joy, two Greek princes – Crown Prince Constantine and Prince George – rushed to meet him and accompanied him on his final lap, fuelling him along the way with wine, milk, beer, an Easter egg and some orange juice.

Adding to the celebrations, two more Greek runners entered the stadium to a complete a triumphant 1-2-3. Third place finisher Spiridon Belokas was later found to have covered part of the course by carriage and was disqualified.

After his victory, Louis received rich gifts and prizes ranging from jewelry to a horse and a life-long free shave. He retreated to his hometown, never again competing in running. He lived a quiet life, working as a farmer, and later as a local police officer.

And so it began, the Olympics as we know it today.

The Insider Olympiad.

The Backwoods Historical Society, the league of Backwoods Gentlemen, the Backwoods Sporting society, the International Backwoods Committee and the Backwoods Guild of Master craftsmen have spent the last months heads bowed, wills and opinions grinding away, seldom resting in their tectonic debate as to the shape of Insider 2012. They have reflected on the honour conferred and the legacy this event bestows upon its people. They have considered their influence fairly, strongly and evenly and a decision has been reached.

In this year 2012, the year in which the Olympics Games grace our fair shores, the efforts of the Backwoods community will be directed, side by side with our wider peoples, in bringing forth a celebration of all that is sport.

We will remember the historic victories, recreate the titanic struggles, champion the champions and celebrate the amazing celebrities who have given so much to this island nation through the power of their sport.

And we will do this with fire and feasting, a towering line up of musicians, lights and singing, a dancing gathering spectacle of world class talent brought forth upon these hallowed fields of play. The world has not seen the like of it. Sport.

Ladies and Gentlemen we hereby invite you to the First Insider Olympiad.

This historic spectacle is to be celebrated at Inshriach House, Near Aviemore, between the 15th and the 18th June. You can apply for tickets randomly through the internet or you can wait for us to put up a website.

In celebration of the 2012 Insider Olympiad The Backwoods Sporting Society have commissioned a brief history of the Modern Olympics - starting with The 1896 Games in Athens - with athlete profiles and eyewitness accounts of the towering achievements and pivotal moments of the games, paying particular attention to the event that started it all -

The Marathon.

Don't miss it.