An Empire Olympiad

A forecast of "the most comprehensive allBritish athletic meet ever attempted"

H. H. ROXBOROUGH August 1 1930

An Empire Olympiad

A forecast of "the most comprehensive allBritish athletic meet ever attempted"

H. H. ROXBOROUGH August 1 1930

An Empire Olympiad

A forecast of "the most comprehensive allBritish athletic meet ever attempted"


To THE ambitious city of Hamilton, in the month of August, there will come a band of nearly two thousand men and women athletes. These sporting pilgrims, all tested in the school of tough athletic competition and proved in speed, strength and stamina, hail from all parts of the British Empire-from New foundland, Ireland, Great Britain; from Bermuda, British Guiana, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa: and their purpose is to take part in the first Empire Games that have ever been held in the British dominions.

Behind this mobilization of an empire’s athletic talent there lies a unique story of civic and sporting enterprise.

Back in 1928, when “Bobby” Robinson, Canada’s dynamic sport enthusiast, sailed to Holland’s Olympiad, he carried with him a flaming desire to commit Great Britain and the nations beyond the seas to the founding of a gigantic athletic meet to which the entire Empire would send its most successful sons and daughters.

Undoubtedly one of the motives behind his purpose was that of civic pride. For many years Hamilton has enjoyed a world-wide reputation for the discovery and development of schoolboy athletes.

In 1928, Canada’s Olympic team carried out their elimination trials in the Hamilton

This finish shows three of the stars who will compete in the sprints at the Hamilton games: J. E. London, left, Percy Williams, left centre, and W. B. Legge, of South África, at extreme right. In circle: H. R. Pearce, of Australia, who will contest the single sculls.

Stadium; last year the city was host to the track and field stars of Oxford and Cambridge Universities. This year, in order that its sporting pre-eminence might be sustained, something more was needed. So Hamilton invited the best athletes in the whole Empire to rub their shoes on the civic doormat. Hamilton citizens are extremely jealous of their sporting reputation, and almost purr with satisfaction whenever its leaders bring home the prospect of an athletic carnival. Hence, no doubt, part of "Bobby” Robinson’s enthusiasm.

But Hamilton’s civic pride alone could never have roused sport leaders in distant lands. The city’s athletic reputation, by itself, would not have won endorsement of the Games by His Majesty the King and other members of the Royal Family. Nor would it alone have enlisted the active support of such imperialists as Lords Desborough, Lonsdale, Rothermere and Beaverbrook, the Earl of Derby, Sir George McLaren Brown, Sir Campbell Stuart, Sir Ian Colquhoun, Sir Arthur Currie, Sir Robert Falconer and E. W. Beatty. How was it that these national leaders responded so readily to the project? Very probably something like this was in their minds:

“Today the British Empire is held together by sentiment rather than force; and whatever develops friendships will stimulate that understanding and goodwill. Therefore, an assemblage of the best athletes in the Empire will not only

strengthen national pride, but should develop social ties that will tend to seal more strongly the bonds of Empire.”

Just two years ago, then, when “Bobby” Robinson landed in Holland he was filled with civic pride, Imperial sentiment, and this vision of his of Empire Games. In the intervening months the athletic leaders in almost every unit of the Empire have been approached. The response has been extraordinary,

The city of Hamilton itself has demonstrated its enthusiasm by constructing the largest swimming pool in Canada at a cost of $110,000; by expending $33,000 on increasing the seating accommodation at the stadium to 16,000 persons; by contributing an additional $25,000 toward the organization and operation of the Games, and by undertaking to house and feed 500 of the competitors. The original idea of conducting only track and field contests has been so enlarged that the programme now rivals that of an Olympiad; and it is not improbable that one of the Royal Family will open the Games. From August 16 to August 23 Canada’s most sport-minded city will provide the setting for the most comprehensive and inspiring set of athletic tests ever conducted in the particular interest of the British Empire.

An Athletic Constellation

THE invading athletic army is not only numerically strong, but it includes a score of champions, each of whom has some outstanding claim to international recognition.

Our own Canadian track team will be led by that young Vancouver runner whom experienced critics declare to be the best competitive sprinter of all time, Percy Williams. This twicecrowned Olympic champion will be supported by Jimmy Ball, of Winnipeg, who finished second in the 400metre race at Amsterdam in an event that included seventy-eight entries from thirty-two nations: Leigh Miller, Hamilton’s sensational runner who has won the Canadian and United States indoor championship sprints during the past season; Fitzpatrick, Wilson, Little and many others with Olympic experience, together with the winners of Canadian titles for 1930.

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From New Zealand is coming S. A. Lay who has thrown the javelin over 220 feet. South Africa is sending, among others, W. B. Legge who was 'one of the six finalists in the hundred metre race in Holland; while Phil. Edwards, who is probably the best half-mile runner in the world, will represent British Guiana. One of the Australian stars will be the famous Whyte who is recognized as being one of the world’s best milers.

Equally prominent are the men who will represent the motherland. The athletic associations in the British Isles were a little backward at first in accepting the cordial invitation to attend the Hamilton carnival, but once a definite commitment was made they speedily and energetically raised funds and planned a team, and a remarkable group of oldcountry athletes will face the starter’s gun. Foremost will probably be Lord Burghley who won the 400-metre hurdle race at the ninth Olympiad, and in so doing, bettered all previous Olympic times. Another noted star will be C. Ellis, of the Birthfield Harriers, who in September last ran a thousand yards in two minutes, eleven and one-fifth seconds —also a world’s record—and won both the half-mile and mile races at the British amateur championships of 1929. Also in the limelight will be J. E. London, a colored runner, who has equalled the best Olympic time ever made for the hundred metres, and finished ahead of everyone save Percy Williams at Amsterdam. A versatile athlete, he also has exceeded a mark of six feet two inches in the high jump.

Quarter-miler and Preacher

ONE of the most interesting personalities in the motherland contingent will be Eric Liddell. Back in 1924 this Scottish quarter-miler had a style so unusual that the experts ridiculed the idea that he could run, but he confounded the higher critics by winning the 400metre race in Paris, and that so speedily that no Olympic champion has ever improved upon his time. As yet another instance of versatility on the day following his victory he appeared in a Parisian pulpit and preached the sermon. Still another expected competitor will be H. Payne, of Woodford Green, who last summer broke all existing records for full regulation-distance marathon races. While the English and Scottish spikedshoe performers are tearing around at dizzy paces, a young Irish doctor, P.

O’Callaghan, will be over on the infield showing the boys how just two years ago he won the sixteen-pound hammer throw from the huskiest weight-men that the nations could produce.

There will be many more world’s champions than those already mentioned. There are certain to be stirring battles when Williams, London, Legge, Fitzpatrick and Miller fight it out for sprint leadership, when Ball and Liddell strive for quarter-mile supremacy, or when Ellis, Edwards, Little and Wilson cut loose in the closing moments of the half. These events, however, will be but the high lights of an amazingly varied programme. More than three hundred Ontario lads will compare speed and strength at the provincial schoolboys’ championships, while the women of Canada will also conduct their national finals during the athletic week.

Those thousands of sport-lovers who prefer the runners, jumpers and strong men will see more champions in action in this one week of the Empire Games than have ever been assembled at any one time in Canadian athletic history.

An All-sports Meeting

"PvURING the week prior to the opening ceremony, Canadian boxers, wrestlers and lawn b«wlers will each hold their national championships, and the winners will remain over to contest Empire honors against the best of the other dominions and the motherland. In addition to these three sports it is also planned to conduct the Canadian canoe championships, Empire lawn tennis, Empire swimming, and international yachting and motor boat racing during the Games week.

Contemplating the possibilities of such a varied programme, one would almost believe that nothing else—in a sports sense—was possible. Yet in the opinion of many who are well-informed athletically, the most impressive contests of the entire games will be those for the rowing titles. Crews are expected from the Maritime provinces, and British Columbia, and every rowing centre between the two oceans. New Zealand hopes to send a famous eight; far-off British Guiana is considering its crew possibilities, while England is sending out one of its most formidable crews, rowing in the name of the Thames Rowing Club. The pairs, fours and eights will present keen competitive racing, but -perhaps the most spectacular event on the whole programme, and certainly one that appeals to an athletic imagination, will be the single sculls. This event will be contested by many oarsmen with championship

aspirations, and by three whose reputations are already well established: Jack Guest, of Toronto, the Canadian singles champion, and 1930 winner of the Diamond Sculls; Joe Wright, Jr., 1928 winner of the Diamond Sculls at Henley, and H. R. Pearce, the husky Australian who won the Olympic singles with such ease, and who is considered to be one of the marvels of sculling history.

Thus it is assured that in running, jumping, weight-throwing, bowling, paddling, boxing, wrestling, swimming, yachting, speed-boating and rowing, the games leave little to be desired. Competitively they are certain to be successful.

To What End the Games?

"DUT after the last race has been run U and the stands are deserted and the contestants have scattered to the four corners of the globe, what desirable objectives are likely to have been attained?

The games should certainly turn the searchlight of publicity on the athletic prowess and importance of the British Empire. And this advertising is badly needed, for never were the sporting achievements of a people more unhonored and unsung than are those of our own. Even among ourselves there exists the thought that Britons are rather dull athletically and that the players from the United States and European countries travel faster and play better than do the sons and daughters of our own nations. The facts, however, do not support this supposition, for when Squadron Leader Oriebar, captain of the British Schneider Cup team, flew at 358 miles per hour, he far exceeded the air speed record of any other flier.

When the late Major Segrave drove his automobile at a velocity of more than 230 miles an hour he travelled faster than any other motorist in all time. The same fearless Major Segrave gathered in the championship of the waves by piloting his speed boat to a world’s title immediately prior to his lamented death.

It is also well to remember that for many years the tennis stars of Australia and England were unbeatable; that the names of Bob Fitzsimmons, Fred Welch, Jimmy Wilde and Tommy Bums, were not unknown in the fistic realm; that the sensational accomplishments of Hanlan, Gandaur, Scholes, Guest, Wright and Pearce will not be soon forgotten wherever oarsmen congregate; that the golfers of Scotland and England were unconquerable during many decades, and that even today, when the supremacy has apparently shifted to the United States, many of the leading American profes-

sionals were bora in Britain and learned the game there.

Then, let us remind ourselves that in cricket, rugby and soccer—now played around the world—the best teams are found in red-colored lands; that an English lacrosse team recently triumphantly toured the United States and returned home with an international trophy; and that British ladies recently defeated an invasion of United States golfers and also retained an unbeaten record in singles championships.

In track and field athletics the present world’s champion hammer thrower is P. O’Callaghan; world supremacy in the hop, step and jump has been reached by three more Empire sons, O’Connor, Ahearne, and the Australian, Winter. In nine Olympiads there have been thirty-nine contests in races up to fifteen hundred metres, and Walker and Rudd of South Africa, Bennett, Jackson, Hill, Flack, Tysoc, Lowe and Abrahams of the British Isles, and Kerr and Williams of Canada have been victorious on sixteen occasions. The fastest times ever recorded in running six, seven, nine, fifteen, twenty, and twenty-five mües have been made by Englishmen. All world’s walking records are held within the Empire.

Indeed, the deeper we dig into this question of achievement in sport, the more astonishing the discoveries, and one of the important contributions of the Empire Games will be the manner in which they will advertise this record. They will show the world that Britons are not athletically slow.

An even more desirable consequence will be the unifying of the sporting organizations of the Empire. Under conditions existing in international competition the motherland and each dominion is considered apart; the victories of each are tabulated separately; when one unit voices an opinion, -that expression does not receive the same consideration as would the decision of an Imperial athletic federation.

The vision of M. M. Robinson; the practical enthusiasm of the citizens of Hamilton; the organizing abüity and efforts of such a national leader as E. W. Beatty; the approval and support of outstanding Imperialists, together with the co-operation of the athletic associations of Great Britain and the Dominions have made the Empire Games possible. It is not too much to hope that they will go far toward crystallizing Empire sportsmanship into one coherent whole; and certainly they will do more to develop Imperial goodwill than a score of parliamentary resolutions and an epidemic of speeches.