Friday, 27 July 2012

Britain is a country where old men remember when they were young men competing in the 1948 London Olympic Games

George Weedon and Frank Turner, former Olympic gymnasts.  They have remained friends.
These are former Olympic gymnasts George Weedon and Frank Turner in 2010.
In July 1946, one year after the end of the Second World War in which Britain lost 383,000 servicemen and 67,000 civilians, the decision that London was to host the Olympic Games was announced  and the City had just over 24 months to prepare.

Frank Turner, was 87 years old and grew up in the East End of London, was captain of the British gymnastic team during the Games and said : "The 1948 Olympics were the austere Olympics. No one else would have it; no one could afford it. The Olympics of '48 was done on a shoestring."
George remembers the gymnastics team mainly trained outdoors
There were eight men in each national gymnastics team with all competitors having to compete twice on each of the apparatus; parallel bars, pommel horse, rings, long horse and floor and Britain came 12th out of 16 countries.

Frank has said : "Great Britain has come a long way in gymnastics since 1948. We had no hope of winning back then but we participated and that's the main objective in life - to get your goal and rejoice in it. I did the sport because I loved doing the sport - not from what I was going to get from it."

Over night the Olympic boxing ring was constructed over The Empire Pool  (Wembley Historical Society/ Brent Archives)George Weedon, was 90 and was a fellow gymnast alongside Frank and said :  "It was too early for the Olympics really. I think there were so many buildings, education and facilities that weren't there that had to be built up and I think that took priority. But... I think it was something, in a way, to look forward to."
Ron Cooper "putting on this blazer takes me back 60-odd years."
Ron Cooper, 82, from Newham, was a lightweight boxer during the Games and said : "How we ran the games? Don't ask me! All of London was still bombed. We were still trying to get ourselves going. The Olympics gave people a lot of work trying to rebuild London. From what I can remember the opening ceremony was an absolute shambles. We were all late, rushing in, lining up there, higgledy piggledy."

The opening ceremony fell just before the Bank Holiday weekend on Thursday 29th July 1948. Over 80,000 spectators turned up to witness the event at Wembley Stadium in the blistering heat.

Frank said in 2010 :  "I would love to be alive in 2012 to see it because the job they're doing now is fantastic.
That's why they've asked me the privilege of lighting the cauldron - which is one of the highest honours you can get.
I've been nominated to light the torch to the cauldron but I've been recently diagnosed as terminally ill. Alas, I don't think I'll be alive to see the opening ceremony, which I really wanted to do."
The Games :

Frank Turner in actionSadly, Frank Turner died in 2010. He  later worked as a stunt double for film stars Michael Caine and Norman Wisdom, never won an Olympic medal but was widely regarded as one of the world’s finest exponents of the rings apparatus.


1 comment:

  1. If you want to find out more about George Weedon...
    Here's a website dedicated to an award winning short film about the man:

    And here's the film's Facebook page/guestbook:

    And last but by no means least a Facebook page dedicated to the athletes in the 1948 games:

    Cheers! Kate (friend of George Weedon)