C’mon Jack!

– By Gareth Watkins (Radio Collection Developer, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

Leading up to the Summer Olympics in Rio here are some golden sporting moments from Aotearoa’s past.

Photograph of Jack Lovelock winning the 1500 metres at the Berlin Olympic Games. Lovelock, John Edward (Jack), 1910-1949 : Papers. Ref: MSX-2261-062. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22860702
Photograph of Jack Lovelock winning the 1500 metres at the Berlin Olympic Games. Lovelock, John Edward (Jack), 1910-1949 : Papers. Ref: MSX-2261-062. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22860702

On the 6 August 1936, 80 years ago, Jack Lovelock won the gold medal in the 1500 metre race at the Summer Olympics in Berlin. He also set a new world record of 3 minutes 47.8 seconds. Lovelock’s friend – 1924 sprint gold-medallist Harold Abrahams – commentates in this exciting radio broadcast. The audio excerpt ends with Lovelock briefly reflecting on the win.

1500m race – Summer Olympics in Berlin, 6 August 1936

 

In Berlin at the time was C.F. Greenslade, who shot this personal record of the Summer Olympics and scenes from around Berlin. Of particular interest are the street scenes (around 6 min 40 sec into video) featuring members of Hitler Youth marching in the streets, numerous Nazi Germany flags and a Zeppelin flying overhead.

C.F. Greenslade home movie, 1936 

 

Yvette Williams. Crown Studios Ltd :Negatives and prints. Ref: 1/1-037419-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22325060
Yvette Williams. Crown Studios Ltd : Negatives and prints. Ref: 1/1-037419-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22325060

Skipping forward to 1952, here’s an audio excerpt of long jumper Yvette Williams, who won a gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Helsinki. Williams became the first New Zealand woman to win an Olympic medal when she leapt 6.24 metres – an Olympic record.  The audio excerpt ends with actuality of a ticker tape parade for Williams on her triumphant return to her hometown, Dunedin.

Yvette Williams reflects on winning a gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Helsinki, 1954

As noted on the NZ History website Williams was named New Zealand “Sportsman of the Year” in 1950 and 1952 and was made an MBE in 1953. She was one of the first inductees into the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame in 1990 and in 2000 was voted Otago Sportsperson of the Century. Sports writer Peter Heidenstrom rates Williams as his ‘New Zealand Athlete of the Century’.

 

Norman Read walking around Trentham Military Camp, Wellington, while other unidentified men time him on their watches. Dominion post (Newspaper) :Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post and Dominion newspapers. Ref: EP/1960/1299-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/30647028
Norman Read walking around Trentham Military Camp, Wellington, while other unidentified men time him on their watches. Dominion post (Newspaper) : Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post and Dominion newspapers. Ref: EP/1960/1299-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/30647028

A final golden memory is of Norman Read’s win 60 years ago, in the 50km walk race at the Summer Olympics in Melbourne in 1956.  Listen to the final moments of the race, followed by Read reflecting on how it felt to win New Zealand’s third-ever gold medal (behind Lovelock in 1936 and Williams in 1952).

Norman read wins a gold medal at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne

Born in England, Read had emigrated to New Zealand in 1953. The self-proclaimed “Pommie-Kiwi,” Read also competed at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome and the 1966 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Kingston, where he won a bronze medal in the 20-mile road walk.

 

Filming parts of the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne was F. Boustridge. You can see the final moments of the walking race and Read on the podium at 9 min 28 sec into the video.

F. Boustridge home movie, 1956

 

You can read and see more of Norman Read in this article by Stuff.