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Book Review : Chasing Gold

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20/07/2005 
Chasing Gold - Centenary of the British Olympic Association
by Nick Yapp
Reviewed by Andrew Baker, Sports Writer for The Daily Telegraph
Revelling in nostalgia of past glory

The British Olympic Association celebrate their centenary this year, but have been too preoccupied with the London bid to make a fuss about it. But the BOA have produced a book to honour the occasion. Chasing Gold is a pictorial history of British participation in the Olympics, compiled by Nick Yapp with the archive of Getty Images, and is a useful reminder of what the Games have meant to this country.

In light of the complex and expensive plans that have been promised for London 2012 it is enlightening to look at the facilities on offer at the earliest Games. The line-up for the start of the men’s 400 metres final in St Louis in 1904 features a dozen runners crouched in front of the starter, who wears a straw boater hat and is surrounded by schoolboys. The main problem was a lack of lane markings. As the text dryly notes “a degree of chaos ensued”.
And it is interesting to contrast the social regeneration planned for the East End of London in 2012 with the more basic transformation that took place on waste ground in Shepherd’s Bush for the 1908 London Games.

Similarly, the smart accommodation envisaged for athletes in 2012 was not provided in the “austerity” Games of 1948, when London did the Olympic Movement a favour by hosting, but when the athletes had to be put up in schools and army camps. There were grumbles from the press but the then IOC president, Sigfrid Edstrom, called the Games “a challenge to the British genius for improvisation, and the organisation rose gloriously to the supreme challenge”.
Chasing Gold - Nick Yapp - Centenary of the British Olympic Association.
The book provides a glorious wallow in nostalgia for anyone remotely interested in Olympic history and British sport, and any such readers will find images of their favourite athletes: Mary Peters, Lynn Davies, Sir Steve Redgrave and Daley Thompson. Chasing Gold is a fine memento of all that Great Britain has contributed to the Olympics down the years.

6th July 2005 – printed in the Daily Telegraph.
 
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