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Olympic Games in my past

October 26, 2021

In the Spring of 1948 on one of our occasional Saturday morning forays into the nearest market town with my father, we went into the department store and visited the ticket sales counter, where my father purchased three tickets for one of the track and field days of the forthcoming Olympic games. He paid the incredible sum of 4 shillings, roughly one dollar in those days for each ticket. That would have been enough for three visits to the cinema and ice cream at intermission. I was only 10 years old at the time and had just started my athletic career by winning the boys under 11 cross country run at school. (One of very few wins in my running career). We had not yet got television and all I knew about athletics came from radio and the newspapers.
It was a few months later before we actually made our way to Wembley for the events. It was a sunny day, far more people than I had ever seen in one place before, and when came into the stadium we noticed that athletes were coming in with us, many of whom willingly signed my autograph book, which I have since lost, not a bit like these days.

The day started with heats of the women’s 200 metres, one of the heats was won by Fanny Blankers-Koen, who I had never heard of before, and who went on to 5 gold medals. I was more concerned about an athlete from the Philippines in the same event, who was disqualified after her third false start and never got to compete. The main event of the morning was the final of the 400 metres for men, won by a Jamaican called Arthur Wint, I had never imagined people could run that fast, he looked to be about 6 and a half foot tall and very skinny, but as he approached the finish line he passed everyone as if they were standing still, including his fellow countryman who came second. This was Jamaicas first ever gold medal, but as we all know, by no means their last.

The high light of the day was the mens 10000 metres, I now realise that is the reason my father picked that day, he use to run distance races at university. Of course we believed that Jim Peters, a great British athlete would triumph, but it was not to be. As soon as the race started a section of the crowd began to chant ZATOPEK ZATOPEK, and he certainly responded. This was his first Olympics and this was the only medal he won this time, setting an Olympic record and winning by nearly a minute. Later he would win the 5000, 10000, and marathon. It is interesting to note that the was not a single African in the 10000 or 5000 metre finals. Today they nearly all come from there.

It was 73 years ago, and I still remember that day and those races. To give my children a similar experience in 1976 I lined up for tickets at the Eaton’s outlet in the Fredericton mall, and paid about $200 for four tickets a day for a week. We went to Montreal where my wife and I took turns at the best event with one child, while the others went to an easily accessible venue. As chance, or was it sexism would have it, my wife got to see the mens gymnastic finals. While I got to see the women, and there were lots of perfect tens to look at, as well as the one scored by Nadia Comenici,

The tradition continues, my father bought tickets so I could see the games, I bought tickets so my children could see the games. And one of my daughters went to London so her children can experience the games. I wonder where the games will be that my grandchildren take their kids to

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2 Comments
  1. Duncan MacDonald permalink

    Thanks for sharing Tim

    Great recollections and recall

    Bit of a time piece too

    Duncan

    PS Are you at the Y these days? Does it feel Covid safe?

    Duncan MacDonald
    Duncan L MacDonald, CPA
    111-364 York Street
    Fredericton, NB E3B 3P7
    Phone: (506) 458-8328
    Fax: (506) 459-0518
    E:mail: duncan@dlmca.ca

    This is a confidential business communication. If you have received this communication in error kindly delete the communication and notify the sender of the error. Reproduction, transmission or other use of this communication by person not employed by D L MacDonald, CPA is prohibited without the permission of the sender.

  2. What a great story. Wow, such experiences. Your daughters come from an even longer line of running prowess than I could have imagined. Bravo. Thanks for sharing, Tim. Keep the memories coming!

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