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The girls in the office (including me, although I’m really too old to be seen as one of them!) are all going crazy with the Olympic fever. What a grand event! Yesterday I got to see the film about the opening celebrations in the Tivoli. It is very exciting this year because women’s competition is allowed for swimming and diving for the first time this year. The girls are of course way more interested in young Arnold Strode-Jackson, the runner from Oxford. Lucy Hammonds cut out his photo from the paper and stuck it next to the mirror in the ladies’ cloakroom. I thought Mrs Straith will raise hell about it, but no complaint so far. Haha, the lad is dashing indeed if the ‘Old Wraith’ (those cheeky girls call her that, not me) hasn’t mentioned it yet. We’ll see.

What is more interesting for me is de Coubertin’s idea of the Art Olympics, but of course when I start talking about that Lucy starts sniggering as if it was impossible, when one has Strode Jackson to daydream about. Anyway, sports themed art will be judged and gold and silver medals awarded to the best. I hope the paper will run a feature on this too, and not just the ‘Oxbridge competition’ between Strode-Jackson and that Noel-Baker character.

I’ve also read that Hungarian sportsmen can participate under their own flag and have their own Committee, separate from the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, and for the first time Serbia will participate too! Admittedly, I know little about these political things, but I do believe these gestures make the Olympic games a noble competition. The whole thing with the parade and the sheer number of athletes who have worked and trained so hard and travelled from all around the world, and all those fantastic stories of camaraderie and charity are very moving and make the heart soar. One only wishes that the pianist at the film theatre tuned the piano and played a little more dignified music than his usual repertoire.

About the Art Competition, see http://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/summer/1912/ART/ and http://decoubertin.info/table-of-contents/selected-masterpieces/olympic-art-competitions/

Some background about the English participation in the Stockholm Olympic Games from The Guardian:

“British teams won gold medals for football, water polo and rowing eights; relays were won in the pool by the women’s 4x100m freestyle team and, on the track, by the men’s 4x100m quartet. 

[…] at the time it was two Edwardian “posh boys” who wore the shiniest laurel wreaths and won Fleet Street’s boldest banner headlines. Philip Noel-Baker was a Cambridge University athletics nut and a dutiful trainer, but who well realised he was nothing like as talented, fast or as “natural” as his all-rounder rival and carefree Oxford dilettante, the strikingly handsome 21-year-old Arnold Strode-Jackson, who was quoted as saying: “On the whole, I think I prefer golf, hockey, boxing and hiking to athletics.”

Stockholm was the last Olympics where any individual could just turn up and hope to enter a competition. Which is what Strode-Jackson did. He had never even run a race in the AAA championships, but Noel-Baker had that summer been beaten by his devastating finishing surge in the mile race in the Varsity athletics match and promised himself that if they both qualified for the final at Stockholm he would chivalrously “nurse” Strode-Jackson to the gold medal for Britain by pacing him as far as he could against the pack of American favourites.

And so it came to pass. “Just follow me,” said Phil to Arnie. Thus, nobly, did Noel-Baker steer the “natural” precisely to the final bend in the slipstream of the prancing hot favourite and US world record holder, Abel Kiviat, before letting the young Oxford boy off the leash and into, by all accounts, an astonishing final spurt which burst him into the lead and clear of the field 30 metres from the tape, which he broke in an Olympic and British record of 3:56.8.”

Read the whole article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/blog/2012/may/01/stockholm-olympics-arnold-strode-jackson

About the Hungarian and Serbian participation:

http://hu.wikipedia.org/wiki/1912._%C3%A9vi_ny%C3%A1ri_olimpiai_j%C3%A1t%C3%A9kok

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serbia_at_the_Olympics

And finally, charitable deeds that made Lavender’s heart soar with joy:

http://london2012.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/05/sweden-1912-helping-hands/

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