Tuesday, May 15, 2018

V 8 N. 29 A Bit of Track And Field Humour, 1937 Style

John Cobley creator of the running blog  Racing Past  (www.racingpast.ca) sent me this 1937 report of the British A.A.A. championships written in a non athletic journal  Night and Day   which copied the style and layout of The New Yorker.   Written by T.O. Beachcroft in a literary and humourous style, it conveys the time and the sentiment of the day.  Foreign athletes were frequently participating in British Championships and may still be welcome for all I know, even though several had serious difficulties securing visas to compete in the recent indoor world championships held in England this past winter.  We've looked for photos of some of the participants and added them below the article.

John's comments on this article were: 

 Thought you might enjoy this. It comes from Night and Day, a British journal that tried to copy the New Yorker in 1937 and lasted only six months. It nevertheless had some brilliant writers—Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Elizabeth Bowen. I have the book of all the editions.

Thomas Owen Beachcroft was a short story writer of some repute. I am not sure what he did as a runner. He is covered by Wikipedia.

For George: The “neat throw to cover point” is an allusion to cricket. The attempt at humour in the relevant paragraph is pretty poor. 

I find the German undercurrent the most interesting aspect here. Good insight into attutudes of 1937.


PS Note the drawing at the start. Now that is funny. I count ten sports there, but no athletics!.

Here are a few bits and pieces we've found about the personalities mentioned in this article

Sydney Wooderson
PRs  440 49.4 (1938)
800 m 1:48.4 (1938)
1500m 3:48.4
Mile 4:04.2 (1945)
5000 m 14:08.6 (1945)

Karl Hein and Erwin Blask  German gold and
silver Berlin 1936   HT.   Hein won on his last put in Berlin.

Willy Schroeder    Discus thrower Willy Schröder set a world record in 1935 with 53.10, and won the 1938 European title. In 1936 and 1937 he was German Champion and in 1938 German Police Champion. At the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games Schröder placed fifth. By profession he was a policeman.
Personal Best: DT – 53.10 (1935).  Sport Reference and Getty Images
Myron's Discobolus

Townley Discobolus  with incorrectly restored
head.   British Museum

R.L. Howland  (upper left) and Lord Burghley (lower left) 1934
Arthur Collyer nipping Frank Handley in the
aformentioned 880 yards in 1:53.3

Stelios Kyriakidis

Stelios Kyriakidis was born on Cyprus and won several distance running titles at the 1932 Pan-Cyprian Games. Later that year he won the Greek national marathon title, and was soon chosen to compete for Greece in the marathon at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where he finished 11th. Kyriakidis was a 14-time winner at the Pan-Cyprian Games and an 11-time Greek National Champion. He also competed at the 1948 London Olympics.
Kyriakidis joined the Greek resistance during World War II, and during the Nazi occupation of his homeland, he twice evaded execution when he was recognized by his Nazi tormenters as an Olympic athlete. After the war, he was emaciated, having lost much weight, and sold his furniture to buy a ticket to the United States to run in the 1946 Boston Marathon, although he was also supported by Greek-Americans Giorgios and Spyros Demeter. His goal in running was not just to try to win the marathon, but to persuade Americans to help send food and supplies to his war-torn nation. Near the end of the 1946 Boston Marathon Kyriakidis was running alongside his close friend [Johnny Kelley], when an older Greek-American in the crowd yelled out, “For Greece, for your children.” Inspired, Kyriakidis pulled away to win the race, considered perhaps the most emotional victory ever at the Boston Marathon.
Kyriakidis was successful in his other goal, as his efforts helped raise over 25,000 tons of supplies for his homeland. When he returned to Greece, over 1,000,000 Greeks lined the streets of Athina to greet him, a ceremony was held in his honor at the Temple of Zeus, and the Acropolis was illuminated in his honor, the first such lighting after World War II. He was later given the Grand Cross of the Phoenix by the Greek King. In 2004 a statue of Kyriakidis was placed one mile beyond the Hopkinton starting line of the Boston Marathon, entitled “The Spirit of the Marathon.” A copy of the same statue was also placed in Marathon, Greece.
Personal Best: Mar – 2-29:27 (1946).  from Sports Reference

Statue in Boston of Kyriakidis and Spiridon Louis


Donald McNab Robertson and Dunky Wright lead the Fiery Cross Relay from Edinburgh Castle
Hans Woellke mentioned as 1936 Olympic shot put champion would later be known infamously as a former SS officer in WWII

Woellke winning in Berlin 1936
Woellke as a police lieutenant

Early Adidas shoe worn by Woellke.  Shot was thrown from a cinder surface to account for the spikes

Shot putter Hans Woellke finished third in the 1938 European Championships, while at the 1934 Europeans he came in eighth. His greatest moment came at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games when he won gold. This was the first ever male German Olympic title in athletics events, a feat which was recorded in the Leni Riefenstahl Olympic film “Olympia.” In 1937 Woellke set an indoor world record. He was German Champion 1934-38 and 1941-42.
As a policeman Woellke was promoted to lieutenant for his Olympic triumph by Nazi leaders Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler. Woellke served as guard in prison camps. He was killed in action in 1943 on the Eastern front as a police captain in a Waffen SS Police Regiment. Khatyn was a normal, peaceful Belarusian village of 26 households. On the morning of 22 March 1943 partisans fired at a German convoy from 6 km away, and Woellke was killed in a shootout. Soon after that, German soldiers surrounded Khatyn, herding the citizens, including the elderly, women, and children, into a barn, where they were locked up and burned. The fire killed 149 people including 75 children. Woellke is buried in a cemetery in Minsk.  Sport Reference

Excellent post, George and John. 'Night and Day', under the editorship of author Graham Greene, was the leading literary magazine of its time. Its short life was due to the law-suit for libel provoked by an article by Greene alleging that one of the reasons for the success of the films of child-star Shirley Temple (later Ambassador Shirley Temple Gray) was their appeal to paedophiles. Of course he was right (check out e.g. clips from 'The Good Ship Lollipop'), but the Judge didn't see it that way. The plaintiffs (20th Century Fox) were awarded heavy damages and Greene was threatened with a prison sentence. 'Night and Day' closed down.


Tim Johnston   

editor's note:  Tim Johnston is the author of the excellent book His Own Man, The Biography of  Otto Peltzer reviewed in this blog:
Book review

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