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Henry Hawtrey
Con Leahy
Johnnie Matthews
Gerald Merlin
Sidney Merlin
Peter O'Connor
Billy Pett
Arthur Rushen
Henry Taylor

Leading Medal Winners
GB & Ire

Martin Sheridan (USA) Athletics, and Léon Moreaux (France) Shooting, each won a record five medals at the 1906 Games whilst six athletes won a record three gold medals.

Olympic records show that cyclists Chris Hoy and Bradley Wiggins are Britain's two most successful Olympians with seven medals each but if you include the three won by swimmer Henry Taylor at the 1906 Olympics he overtakes those two with a total of eight.





The 1906 Intercalated Games

To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the first Modern Olympics a second International Olympic Games was held in Athens.

Originally the Greeks proposed to the IOC that they could host an Olympics every four years in between the traditional Games and by the time the IOC gave its approval in 1901 it was too late to organise the first Intercalated Games in 1902 so 1906 was scheduled as the first one. However, support declined after the first event in 1906 as the Greeks could not maintain their promise to stage them every four years and eventually the idea of future Intercalated Games was dropped.The 1906 Olympics had the blessing of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) but, while medals were given, the Games are not recognised as being official by the IOC.Despite not receiving official recognition, they were better organised than the two previous Olympics in Paris and St.Louis.For the first time, athletes had to register or qualify via their own country's Olympic Association. It was also the first Olympics that had a separate opening ceremony, and with athletes marching behind their national flags. It also introduced the now traditional closing ceremony, and it was also the first Games with an Olympic village.The 1906 Olympics took place between 2 April and 2 May and 903 athletes (883 men and 20 women) from 20 countries participated.It may have been the only Intercalated Games but after the two previous disastrous Games in 1900 and 1904, the 1906 Athens 'Olympic' deserve to get a mention in Olympic history because without hem the Olympic movement may well have died.

Great Britain and Ireland won 24 medals in 1906; 8 gold, 11 silver and 5 bronze. Swimmers Henry Taylor and John Jarvis each won three medals, while the uncle and nephew pair of Sidney and Gerald Merlin won two shooting medals each.


HAWTREY, Henry Courtenay
Born: 29 June 1882, Southampton, Hampshire, England
Died: 16 November 1961, Aldershot, Hampshire, England
Olympics competed in: 1 (1906)
Olympic medals: 1906 Gold - Athletics (5 miles)

Hawtrey's only Olympic Games was the 1906 Intercalated Games in Athens. He won the gold medal in the 5 miles and also took part, without success, in the 1500 metres.

In the 5 miles he took the lead after two miles and pulled away to win by 50 yards. Irishman John Daly finished third but was disqualified for obstructing silver-medallist John Svanberg of Sweden on several occasions.

Hawtrey had a distinguished and honored military career reaching the rank of Brigadier in the British Army. For three years in the 1930s he served as an Aide-de-Camp to King George.

He died at the Cambridge Military Hospital in Aldershot in 1961 aged 79.

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LEAHY, Cornelius 'Con'
Born: 27 April 1880, Charleville, Cork, Ireland
Died: 18 November 1921, Manhattan, New York, USA
Olympics competed in: 2 (1906, 1908)
Olympic medals:
1906 Gold - Athletics (High jump)
1906 Silver - Athletics (Triple jump)
1908 Silver - Athletics (High jump)

Con Leahy won the gold medal in the triple jump at the 1906 Intercalated Games but there is every chance that may not have been the case had the pre-championship favourite Bert Kerrigan of the United State not been injured when the boat he was travelling en route to Athens had not been hit by a giant wave.

Leahy was one of seven sporting brothers and another one of them, Pat, won the silver medal in the high jump and the bronze medal in the long jump at the 1900 Paris Olympics.

Con also added a silver medal to his high jump gold in 1906 when he came second in the triple jump, and two years later at the London Games he won another high jump medal, but this time silver.

Con, and his brother Pat both emigrated to the United States in 1909.

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MATTHEWS, Thomas John
Born: 16 August 1884, Kensington, London, England
Died: 20 October 1969, Ashford, Kent, England
Olympics competed in: 2 (1906, 1908)
Olympic medals: 1906 Gold - Cycling (Tandem)

Just short of his 22nd birthday, Johnnie Matthews was the youngest member of the Great Britain cycling team at the 1906 Olympics. Along with Arthur Rushen, Matthews won the tandem gold medal, beating the pre-race favourites, the German Götze brothers, Max and Bruno. Furthermore these Games saw Matthews and Rushen race together as a pair in the tandem for the very first time in the year of their Olympic success.

In addition to the tandem, Matthews competed in the sprint, time trial, 5000 metres and 20 kilometres in 1906, but without success.

He took part in the sprint and tandem at the 1908 London Olympics but failed to add to his medal count despite teaming up with multi world champion Leon Meredith.

Matthews' brother-in-law John Barnard competed at the 1908 London Olympics in the Tandem race, reaching the semi-final also with Arthur Rushen, Matthews' partner in 1906.

In 1911 Matthews, then a carpenter, joined the Army for four years and in later life he became a pub landlord in Kent before eventually retiring just before the end of World War Two.

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MERLIN, Gerald Eustace
Born: 3 August 1884, Athens, Greece
Died: 1945 India
Olympics competed in: 2 (1906, 1908)
Olympic medals:
1906 Gold - Shooting (Trap - single shot)
1906 Bronze - Shooting (Trap - double shot)

Gerald Merlin was born and lived in Athens but chose to represent Great Britain at both the 1906 and 1908 Olympics because of his British parentage.

In the single shot trap event in 1906 he was tied after the mandatory 30 clays with Ioannis Peridis of Greece on 24 points each. They then engaged in a sudden-death shoot-out which Merlin won at the fourth extra clay.

Merlin finished third in the trap (double shot event) behind his uncle(*) Sidney Merlin, who had finished third behind Gerald in the single shot event, making it two golds and two bronze medals for the Merlin family. Gerald contested eight more shooting events, his best other finish was fourth in the 25-metre dueling pistol event.

In 1908 Gerald entered only the trap event and finished 19th out of 30 starters.

Gerald served with the York and Lancaster regiment towards the end of World War One. His son Nicholas Gerald was killed in naval action in 1941 at the age of 29.

* Some sources cite Merlin as being the cousin of Sidney Merlin

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MERLIN, Sidney Louis Walter
Born: 26 April 1856, Piraeus, Greece
Died: 1952, Athens, Greece
Olympics competed in: 3 (1896, 1900, 1906)
Olympic medals:
1906 Gold - Shooting (Trap - double shot)
1906 Bronze - Shooting (Trap - single shot)

Born Louis Walter Merlin, he was Christened as Louis Walter but then re-Christened Sidney Louis Walter. His father was the British Consul in Athens, and Sidney chose to race for Great Britain at the Olympics.

He first competed in 1896, taking part in four events. His best finish was tenth in the 200 metres military rifle. Four years later in Paris he only competed in one discipline, the trap, and finished joint seventh.

In 1906 Merlin was the oldest member of the British shooting team and when he won his gold medal in the trap double shot event it was on his 50th birthday. He added a second medal in 1906 when he took bronze in the trap single shot event, behind gold medal winner Gerald Merlin, his nephew(*)

Merlin married Zaira, the daughter of Georgios Theotokis, the four times Prime Minister of Greece. Zaira later gave birth to Georgios Rallis from a second marriage, and he too became the Greek Prime Minister.

Merlin was also a highly respected botanist and in 1925 he brought the 'Washington Navel', a Californian orange, to Corfu and it became known locally as the Merlin. He can also proudly to claim to have brought the now popular Kumquat to the island from Japan.

His former home, 'Villa Doukis' at Dassia, Corfu, and known as Merlin's Mansion, is a popular holiday home for people visiting the island in the summer months.

* Some sources cite the two as being cousins

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Born: 24 October 1872, Millom, Cumbria, England
Died: 9 November 1957, Upton, Waterford, Ireland
Olympics competed in: 1 (1906)
Olympic medals:
1906 Gold - Athletics (Triple jump)
1906 Silver - Athletics (Long jump)

The long jump has a history of producing some great champions like Jesse Owens and Bob Beamon ... and Irishman Peter O'Connor, who, like Owens and Beamon, set a world mark that would take a long time to be bettered.

O'Connor jumped 7.61 metres at Dublin in 1901 to register the first official IAAF world record in the event and it stood for nearly 20 years, until July 1920. It remained an Irish record for 89 years.

Understandably O'Connor was the favourite for the long jump at the 1906 Olympics but he had difficulties with his run up and could only finish second. However, he made amends in the triple jump (then the hop, step and jump) by beating fellow Irishman Con Leahy into second place to win his elusive gold medal.

O'Connor had been invited by the British Amateur Athletic Association to join their team for the 1900 Olympics in Paris but he refused on the grounds that he would only run for an Irish team.

When O'Connor, and fellow Irishmen Leahy, John Daly and John McGough entered the 1906 Games they did so with the support of the Irish Athletic Association and GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) and they believed they were representing Ireland. But when they got to Athens they were informed that as only athletes nominated by their National Olympic Committee could take part and as Ireland did not have such a committee at the time, the Irishmen found themselves listed as representing Great Britain and Ireland.

At the presentation ceremony for the long jump, O'Connor, already angry at some dubious judging in the event, protested at having to represent Great Britain and Ireland and, surrounded by fellow Irishmen and American supporters, he climbed around 20 foot up the flagpole and pulled down the British flag and hoisted the Irish one in its place. It is regarded as the first of many political protests in the long history of the Olympic Games

After the 1906 Games O'Connor retired from competitive athletics but remained involved with the sport all his life and was a judge at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. He practiced as a solicitor in Ireland after his retirement in 1906. The company, Peter O'Connor and Sons is still going strong in Waterford.

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PETT, William James
Born: 25 August 1873, Derby, England
Died: 28 December 1954, West Ewell, Surrey, England
Olympics competed in: 2 (1906, 1908)
Olympic medals:
1906 Gold - Cycling (20 kilometres)

Three 1906 gold medallists shared in Billy Pett's triumph in the 20 kilometre race because it was a tandem-paced event and he was led out by Johnnie Matthews and Arthur Rushen who, the day earlier, won the tandem gold medal.

Billy Pett did not take up cycling until he was 20 and was a remarkable 32 years of age when he won his gold medal at Athens in 1906. In 1908 Pett set the British record for the one hour tandem-paced record, covering just over 30 miles in an hour. His record stood for 21 years.

Having also competed in the road race in 1906, which resulted in a bad fall, and he did not finish, he contested the 100 kilometres race at the 1908 London Olympics, finishing fourth.

Pett's training programme and competitive racing was curtailed considerably due to him working in the wine cellar at Harrod's which regularly meant him working 11 hour days.

After his retirement from racing, Pett maintained connections with the sport he was to serve for 58 years, and was one of the timekeepers at the 1948 London Olympics. He continued cycling until two years before his death at the age of 80.

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RUSHEN, Arthur
Date and places of birth and death not known
Olympics competed in: 2 (1906, 1908)
Olympic medals: 1906 Gold - Cycling (Tandem)

Arthur Rushen and Johnnie Matthews teamed up as a tandem pairing in 1906 and a few months later they won the Olympic gold medal in Paris beating the much-fancied German Götze brothers, Max and Bruno. The British pair followed up their Olympics triumph by taking the 1906 NCU tandem title. It was the only NCU title either rider won.

Despite competing in four other events in 1906 ranging from sprint to 20 kilometres, Rushen, of Putney AC, failed to win another medal.

He attempted to win the tandem title at London in 1908 when Rushen teamed up with his old partner's brother-in-law John Barnard, but they were eliminated in the semi-final.

See Biography in main section (Swimming)

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