Find out about Norfolk's history at the Olympics
- Credit: Archant
The eyes of the sporting world will be on Tokyo for the next two weeks. Brendon Byrne takes a look at our region's history in the Olympic Games.
Norfolk has had several athletes who have competed in the Olympic Games.
The first was Stanley Fuller who competed in the 100m at the Los Angeles games in 1932.
The Great Yarmouth sprinter won his place in the team after competing in the British Championships at Stamford Bridge and at that time there was a huge crowd.
In those days sprinters used to take a trowel to meetings and dig a hole in the cinders. This was so that their feet could then fit in the hole and carry out a sprint start, hence the expression still used to today of “take to your marks”.
Stanley was very modest about his achievements. He said that the trip to Los Angeles started with a boat trip to New York and then a two-day rail journey to the west coast. He was a businessman in Great Yarmouth after his Olympic exploits.
Norfolk sailor Christopher Boardman won a gold medal at the Berlin Olympics in 1936 as a crew member and helmsman of the British boat Lalage in the six-metre class. Boardman was uncomfortable about the Nazi regime and refused to go to the medal presentation by Adolf Hitler,
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Anne Pashley went to school in Yarmouth and her father taught maths at Yarmouth Grammar School. Her talent as a runner was spotted and developed by Tom Parke at the Wellesley. She competed in both the Commonwealth Games and the European Championships.
Anne was selected for the 1956 games in Melbourne in the 100m. She won a silver medal in the 4 x 100m relay and is the only Norfolk athlete to have won an Olympic medal and she is the only Norfolk athlete to have made a record. After her athletics career she trained as an opera singer and had a very successful career and sung on a number of records. Anne was invited back to Great Yarmouth in 2006 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of her Olympic selection.
The Parke connection continues. Both Mike and Mary Tagg were selected for the Mexico Olympics in 1968. Both went to Thorpe Grammar School and they joined the Yarmouth club where they were trained initially by Parke. Mary reached the semi-final of the 400m and married sub four-minute miler Andy Green. Mike finished 13th in the 10,000m and said that the altitude of Mexico didn’t present too much of a problem for him.
His athletics career blossomed and he was a formidable cross country and road runner. Mike won the National Cross Country Championship and the International Cross Country, the forerunner of the World Championship as it is now. He still lives locally but is not in the best of health. Mike and Mary are the only brother and sister duo to have represented Great Britain in athletics at the Olympics.
Sharon Page, from Gorleston competed at the Seoul 1988 Olympics, clocking a personal best time of 64.75 seconds in the heats of the 100m backstroke but it was not good enough to make it through to the final.
Thetford archer Jo Franks was also in South Korea as she came seventh and she would later compete at the Barcelona games four years later, finishing 36th in the individual event and 13th in the team standings.
Kath Johnson, from King’s Lynn, has competed in three Olympics, picking up a bronze medal in 1992 with the Team GB hockey side. She missed the decisive penalty flick in the bronze medal shoot-out in Atlanta in 1996 with Holland and was also part of the squad in Sydney 2000.
Paul Evans is well known in local athletic circles. He attended Wymondham High School and started in athletics with Norfolk Olympiads. He was not very successful in the early days and, like many young athletes, left the sport.
After a charity run in his twenties his real talent in the sport became clear. He made his Olympic debut at Barcelona in the 10,000m. He qualified from his heat and a few days later took part in the final. He said: “It was the experience of a life time and was something I will never forget.”
The experience was repeated in 1996 in Atlanta, and there were heats for the 10,000 again. Paul was a very successful marathon runner, finishing third in the London Marathon and second in New York. His performance in winning the Chicago Marathon in 1996 in 2:08:52 is still one of the fastest ever by a British athlete. The Yarmouth connection is there again as he did most of his track sessions at the Wellesley.
Barbara Parker attended Springwood High School in King’s Lynn and was successful through the athletic age groups. Her running career really took off when she went to America. She represented Britain at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and again at London in 2012 in the steeplechase.
The British steeplechase record is still hers after running 9:24.24 seconds at Eugen in the USA in 2012. Barbara lives in the southern USA at present.
The star of London from our region’s point of view was Anthony Ogogo, who won a bronze medal after making it to the semi-finals before losing out to Brazilian Esquiva Falcão Florentino.
Colin Oates, from Diss, competed at two Olympics in Judo. He made it to the quarter-final stage in London before going out in the last 32 stage in Brazil.
Dereham high jumper Chris Baker, who now lives in Manchester, also competed at the Rio Olympics finishing in 16th place.
Sophie McKinna, Charley Davison and Lauren Hemp will all shortly be adding their names to the list of athletes from our region that can call themselves Olympians.