Norfolk and Suffolk’s Olympic heroes through the years: Part One

When Great Yarmouth's Stanley Fuller, nicknamed Flying Fuller, was picked for the 1932 Los Angeles Games he became the first Norfolk man to run in the greatest sporting competition in the world.

But he performed below par because he had fallen down a companionway on the liner ferrying the British team across the Atlantic to compete.

The 24-year-old never reached the finals in any of his events – the 100 yards, 200 yards or the relay.

In spite of this he deserves his place in Norfolk Olympic history – if for nothing else than the fact he managed to get to the competition while putting in hour after hour as a salesman at J & H Bunn of Great Yarmouth.

He later became chairman of the company and always said his 'job was the most important thing'.


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In a 1984 interview with the EDP, the then 76-year-old, speaking from the home overlooking the sea at Gorleston he shared with his wife Mary, remained modest about his achievements.

He said at the time: 'I knew there were better runners in the events than myself. And I also realised that I was up against the world's best. To me it was just a great thing to race in the Olympics.

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'I don't like the kind of attitude which seems to think that winning is everything. We can't all be winners. The very fact that people have competed is what is important.'

To see the full 1984 interview with the Flying Fuller log on to www.edp24.co.uk

1936 Berlin

In what were possibly the oddest sporting prizes ever awarded, the champions of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin were each presented with an oak sapling by Adolf Hitler. One of these remains at How Hill.

The Boardman family used to own the house and one of their sons was an Olympic sailor who won a gold medal in 1936. Boardman duly planted his in his family's back garden.

1956 Melbourne

Anne Pashley, a 21-year-old athlete from Yarmouth, won a relay silver medal in Melbourne.

She also took part in the individual 100m but her hopes were dashed in the heats after she was given a bad lane on the inside of the new cinder track.

Anne, now 76, explained in an interview earlier this year: 'I got the inside lane for my 100, where everyone runs on long-distance races, to my downfall. It was really, really churned up. It was like running on sand really – I was unlucky.'

But what happened next provided the perfect silver lining after that bitter disappointment.

'I always loved the relay,' she said. 'It was fun. I did the start so it was quite a responsibility. We used to practise quite a lot – it's quite a technical business actually, very easy to get wrong.'

Anne set off at a cracking pace, getting the better of Olympic hurdles champion Shirley Strickland (Australia), to hand over the baton in first place.

However, the Australian team had double sprint gold medallist Betty Cuthbert waiting on the anchor leg and she brought the team home in first place in 44.5 seconds, a new World and Olympic record. The British quartet's time of 44.7 was also well within the old records.

Immediately after the race she said she was 'terribly deflated' as, from where she was standing, it looked like Cuthbert had overtaken Armitage and snatched the gold medal from Britain.

She soon learned her team-mate had actually got the baton afterwards and put up a great fight to produce a thrilling finish to the race.

She recalled her feelings on receiving the silver medal: 'Fantastic, fantastic. Apart from it being very difficult to get four people on a box and wondering whether you might fall off and look really stupid. Yes, very exciting. I have still got the medal, have to bring it out from time to time for the kids to look at.'

She went on to became a renowned opera singer, performing as a soprano all over Europe.

She and her husband decided to move to France about 20 years ago and their daughter followed suit later on.

In 2006 Great Yarmouth council invited Anne back to the town for a special presentation to mark her achievements of 50 years before.

To see the full interview log on to www.edp24.co.uk 1972 Munich

Great Britain's first gold medal of the event had a Norfolk link. Veteran rider Richard Meade was part of the equestrian team which secured gold in the three-day event. And he did so riding the Norfolk horse Laurieston.

The horse was owned by Major Allhusen, of Claxton Manor, Thurton. He himself was an Olympic silver medal winner in Mexico in 1968 and was present to see his horse succeed.

His daughter, Rosemary, told the EDP at the time that the family were all 'very thrilled'. She added: 'He rode brilliantly. He's a brilliant little horse.'

The horse itself had a fascinating story in that its grandmother was captured by the major's regiment in 1945, one of many German horses brought back to England during the war. Her foal, Laurien, was a good jumper and trained for the 1960 Olympics before being withdrawn. Laurien's foal fared much better.

1980 Moscow

So often the Olympic Games finds itself caught up in the politics of the time and one of those occasions was 1980. The 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan spurred Jimmy Carter to issue an ultimatum that the United States would boycott the Moscow Olympics if troops did not withdraw within one month.

It was joined in the boycott by many other countries – including Japan, West Germany, China, the Philippines, Argentina and Canada. Notably, United Kingdom, France and Australia supported the boycott but allowed their athletes to participate if they wished.

One of those who chose to boycott was the Bishop of Sherborne, the Rt Rev John Kirkham who, during the 1960's, was chaplain to the Bishop of Norwich, as well as assistant chaplain to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.

He had been asked to go to the games as Anglican chaplain to the British team but declined.

One person who did attend, however, was Duncan McDougall, a member of Norwich Rowing club, who grew up at Catfield Hall. The 21-year-old former Taverham Hall Preparatory School pupil was bow in Britain's rowing eight team, who secured a silver on the last day of the Olympic regatta. It came as a shock because the team had trained together for just 10 weeks, racing a mere seven times.

It was also achieved despite a broken rudder, meaning cox Colin Moynihan had to steer the last 750 metres of the 2,000-metre course holding the rudder T-bar with his hands behind his back after the controlling cord snapped.

Tomorrow: Success and heartache in 1988, 1992 and 2008.

And don't miss the next London Calling supplement in Thursday's EDP.

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