TAKE SOME HORLICKS AND BRING YOUR OWN TOWEL
The 1948 Olympics were very different from today’s extravaganza. Katy Pearson on the athletes who competed in the post-war Games
When 27-year-old Jack Braughton ran in the 5,000-metre race 64 years ago, things were decidedly different. London was still recovering from the Second World War, rationing remained in place (athletes from wealthier nations brought their own food) and Craven A cigarettes had advertising space in the programme.
The 1948 Games followed a 12-year hiatus because of the Second World War and were the first Summer Olympics since the 1936 Games in Berlin.
Before competing, Mr Braughton, now 91, from Sidcup, south London, had already done half a day’s work on a building site, because his boss wouldn’t let him have the day off
‘My boss said, “If he wants to run, it will be in his own time”. But I was quite lucky because my event was on a Saturday, so I only had to take half a day off work.
‘I got the bus to the Underground and then the Tube to Wembley. Then I went in to register and did my race and went home. It was just another athletics meet to me. My wife didn’t come to watch, she wasn’t interested. And my mother was offered tickets by her local paper, but turned them down.’
Unlike today’s grand facilities, competitors had to bring their own towels and the only performanceenhancing supplements were complimentary Horlicks tablets.
Mr Braughton, who came eighth in his heat, was one of the first Englishmen to run three miles in under 14 minutes. He had no coach.
Fanny Blankers-Koen (26 April 1918 to 25 January 2004)
‘All I’ve done is run fast. I don’t see why people should make such a fuss of that’ – Blankers-Koen.
When the 30-year-old, Dutch mother-of-two Fanny Blankers-Koen won four Gold medals, she became the star of the 1948 Games. Triumphant in the 100 and 200 metres, the 80-metre hurdles and the 4x100-metre relay, the athlete earned the nickname ‘the Flying Housewife’. She helped demolish the convention that age and motherhood were a barrier to success in women’s sport.
William ‘Ran’ Laurie (4 May 1915 to 19 September 1998) and John ‘Jack’ Wilson (17 September 1914 to 16 February 1997)
‘A thoroughly satisfactory race, it was the best row we ever had’ – Laurie.
These Desert Rats won GB’s first Gold medal of the 1948 Games in the Coxless Pairs. Considered ‘old’ at 35, they were skilled, lifelong rowers. Both took leave from their jobs in the Sudan Political Service to try and win selection from the national team. Laurie had been up all night with a stomach bug before their victory.
Richard Burnell (26 July 1917 to 29 January 1995) and Bert Bushnell (3 September 1921 to 10 January 2010)
‘You talk about magnificence. There wasn’t any. After the racing [at Henley] the oarsmen had a dinner, threw bread rolls at each other and went home’ – Bushnell.
They won a second Gold for team GB, but were not an established pair – they were thrown together at a very late stage and started from scratch just six weeks before the Games. An odd couple, Burnell was 10cm taller and 18kg heavier than his rowing partner.Stewart Morris (25 May 1909 to 24 February 1991) and David Bond (born 27 March 1922)
Team GB’s third and final Gold medal was won in the Yachting Regatta. The pair recovered from a nightmare start, which put them last and resulted in them being disqualified by an Italian judge. However, they contested and, after an hour of deliberations, the disqualification was overturned.
Maureen Angela Jane Gardner (12 November 1928 to 2 September 1974)
Aged 19, Gardner won Silver for Great Britain in the 80-metre hurdles at the 1948 Summer Olympics, coming second to Fanny Blankers-Koen, despite both of them recording the same time of 11.2 seconds. She also received a Bronze medal, and was a member of the 4x100-metre relay team, which came third.
Robert ‘Bob’ Mathias (17 November 1930 to 2 September 2006)
‘I’ll start shaving, I guess’ – Mathias.
During the summer after his high-school graduation, Bob, aged 17, qualified for the United States Olympic team. In 1948, he became the youngestever Olympic track and field Gold medallist. He went on to become an actor, and also became a United States Congressman, representing the State of California.
Veikko Huhtanen (5 June 1919 to 29 January 1976)
Finnish Huhtanen was the most successful gymnast at the 1948 Summer Olympics by taking home five medals, of which three were Gold.
Arthur Wint (25 May 1920 to 19 October 1992)
The first Jamaican Olympic Gold medallist, he won the 400 metres at the 1948 Olympics, beating his teammate, Herb McKenley. He also won a Silver in the 800 metres, but, sadly, had to drop out of the 4x200-metre relay final because of a pulled muscle.
The London Games go head to head
OLYMPIC GAMES 1948
Cost £732,648 (£20m today).
Number of athletes 4,104 (90% of them were male).
Entertainment budget Entire event cost £3,638 (£100,000 in today’s money).
Diet Rationing was still in place so other countries helped feed the athletes. Dutch authorities shipped over 100 tonnes of fresh fruit and veg twice a week. The USA team had food flown in on an almost daily basis.
Training Many of the GB team didn’t have a coach and most of them squeezed training in around full-time jobs.
Sponsors Guinness, Nescafé and Martell Brandy were among the sponsors of the Games. Craven A cigarettes bought advertising space in the programme. The BBC paid more than £1,000 for broadcast rights.
Transport British athletes made their own way to the stadium on public transport.
Accommodation Army huts at Richmond Park, an old RAF camp in Uxbridge and a technical college in Willesden.
Legacy No new venues were built. All venues were simply adapted.
Medals won by Great Britain 23 in total: three Gold, 14 Silver and six Bronze.
OLYMPIC GAMES 2012
Cost Predicted cost in 2005 was £2.37bn, but it has already passed £11bn.
Number of athletes 23,900.
Entertainment budget Opening ceremony alone, £80m.
Diet More than 14 million meals will be served across 40 different locations – 75,000 litres of milk, 21 tonnes of cheese, 25,000 loaves of bread, and 330 tonnes of fruit and vegetables will be consumed.
Training Today, training for the Olympics is a full-time job: coaches and trainers work with each competitor to ensure they are fully fit.
Sponsors McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Cadbury.
Transport The High Speed Javelin shuttle service links the Olympic Village to central London in just seven minutes.
Accommodation 2,818 new apartments complete with spacious courtyards, gardens and balconies.
Legacy £9.3bn complex in London’s East End has transformed what was once industrial land. More than £7bn of contracts have been generated, with thousands of new jobs. The Games are expected to drive £1bn in sales to UK high streets.
Medals won by Great Britain Lots (hopefully).
Related tags:Olympics  1948  post-war  Jack Braughton  Fanny Blankers-Koen  William ‘Ran’ Laurie  John ‘Jack’ Wilson  Richard Burnell  Bert Bushnell  Stewart Morris  David Bond  Maureen Angela Jane Gardner  Robert ‘Bob’ Mathias  Veikko Huhtanen  Arthur Wint
Daily tip from the lady archive
"It is not always she who appears most kindly in her interest who is the safe sharer of sacred (maybe sorrowful) secrets! Charming manners do not always connote sincerity of heart!”The Lady. In Confidence. 4th April, 1918