Step back in lap time with tour of Olympics history

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With the London Olympics just two weeks away this would be a good time to dip into a new book “Britain and the Olympics, 1896-2010” which focuses on the champions and how they came to strike gold.

Athletics journalist Bob Phillips who was a member of the BBC Radio Five commentary team for 17 years and attended six Olympic Games has produced some fascinating tales of the 
personalities who have helped to make the 
Games such a huge world spectacle.

His marvellous opening chapters on the origins of the first of the Modern Games in Athens in 1896 and the pre-First World War Games in Paris (1900), St Louis (1904), Paris (1906), London (1908) and Stockholm (1912) are worth a read on their own.

Though Eric Liddell is rightly lauded for his 400 metres gold medal victory in Paris in 1924, he was not the first Scot to triumph over that distance, that honour going to Captain Wyndham Halswelle, who won the Olympic title in 1908 on a controversial walk-over after his main US rival was disqualified.

Tragically Halswelle was to die from a sniper’s bullet in 1915 at the age of 32.

Following Liddell, Scotland and Edinburgh had to wait another 56 years for another track gold when Allan Wells won the 100 metres in Moscow in 1980.

Britain and the Olympics, 1896-2010: a celebration of British gold is published by Carnegie Publishing in softback, price £12.99.