Printer Friendly

Don't forget my dad; Book tells of Olympic hero.

Byline: By SIMON WALTON

A FORGOTTEN Olympic hero from Teesside has been remembered in a new historical novel.

Oscar-winning movie Chariots of Fire told the story of British runners Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams, who won gold at the 1924 Paris Olympics.

But the film omitted one key character who played a part - a lad born in North Ormesby called Dick Ripley.

As Teesside hopefuls prepare for Beijing, a book by Dick's daughter Jennie Shurmer, called "The Forgotten Chariot", remembers his legacy.

As depicted in the 1981 film, Liddell pulled out of the 100m as he would not run on a Sunday due to his religious beliefs. He went on to win gold in the 400m, while teammate Harold Abrahams took gold in the 100m.

Chariots of Fire omitted the fact that - Liddell also dropped out of the 4 x 400m due to heats being run on a Sunday.

Dick, who was born in North Ormesby and grew up in Hartlepool, ran in the 4 x 400m relay team, winning bronze. But many believe that had Liddell been in the team, Britain would have won gold.

Weeks after the Olympics, with Liddell back in the squad alongside Dick, the British runners beat the American Olympic champions in the Empire Games at Stamford Bridge.

Dick spent the rest of his life in the knowledge that, but for Liddell's religious stand, he would probably have won an Olympic gold medal.

His story has been recounted in a novel by his youngest daughter Jennie, 58.

She said: "Dick was just a normal working lad from the North-east. He ran in the 4 x 400m relay team and obtained a bronze medal.

"He found this a disappointment because the team that ran that day was not the one originally selected and the correct team should have taken gold."

Jennie, of Greta Avenue, Hartlepool, only realised the extent of her father's achievements after he died in Hartlepool aged 95 in 1996 and she went through his mementos.

She said he never quite got over Liddell's decision not to run on a Sunday.

"He felt Liddell shouldn't have let the team down," she said.

Dick was Northumberland and Durham champion at 440 yards for six consecutive years, an achievement that was never beaten.

He used his North Ormesby birth to qualify for the Yorkshire title and held that for at least one year.

After the Olympics, Dick beat French Olympic 400m runners, Teneveaux and Galtier, in an Amateur Athletic Association match against France.

The following year he won the same race with the fastest time in Europe.

In 1925 he was English 440yd champion and was the fastest English 400m/440yd runner. He achieved 17 individual titles and won 44 first prizes in open competition.

Injury forced Dick to retire from athletics prematurely, just before the 1928 Olympics and he worked as a gardener.

Jenny, a retired civil servant married to Stan, 62, with one son Tim, 24, said: "It was really quite thrilling finding out he was such a good athlete."

The Museum of Hartlepool is to hold an exhibition of Dick's medals and memorabilia during the Olympics period.

The Forgotten Chariot, price pounds 7.99, can be bought from WH Smith, Hartlepool, or order from Jennie on 01429 291039.

CAPTION(S):

GOLDEN DREAM: 1924 relay squad, from left Eric Liddell, Guy Butler, E Toms and Dick; PRIDE: Jennie Shurmer, left, with her book and father Dick, above with his medal and below as a young man Picture by IAN McINTYRE
COPYRIGHT 2008 MGN Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 Reader Opinion

Title:

Comment:



 

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Aug 7, 2008
Words:586
Previous Article:Hawks duo back healthy lifestyle.
Next Article:Talented Vicky aims to star at stage school.
Topics:

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters