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Forgotten hero Raddy was triple Olympic gold medal winner.

A PICTURE postcard I have in my possession of Cardiff-born Paolo Radmilovic simply reads "P Radmilovic (GB) Long distance Champion 1907".

In fact, far from being just a long distance swimming champion, Paolo was the first Briton to have a plaque hung in the International Hall of Fame in California.

He also has a permanent and prominent place in Miami's Florida Hall of Fame for Swimmers.

Paolo was a swimming legend who competed at the highest level for 30 years and over an amazing range of distances.

Born in Cardiff on March 5, 1886, the son of a Yugoslav father and Irish mother, he won his first championship at 100 yards in 1901 and his last at 440 yards in 1929 when he was 41.

And it must be remembered that in those days, if you reached 40 you were considered old.

As a member of the British swimming team, Paolo won gold medals for water polo at three successive Olympic Games in 1908, 1912 and 1920. "Raddy" as he was popularly known also captained the British team on four occasions.

He took part in the 1924 and 1928 Olympics and was aged 44 when he competed in the 1930 Empire Games.

In his younger days, he won more than 20 prizes for track events and was also said to be a talented amateur boxer. Back then Cardiffians, when talking about wide boys, used the catchphrase "he has more strokes than Radmilovic".

But sadly as time passed, he became something of a forgotten hero and despite his amazing Olympic Games record, failed to get a mention in what was described as the official record of the Olympics book when it was published in 1980.

When he retired, Paolo moved from Cardiff to Weston-super-Mare, where he become a restaurateur for many years and, at the age of 71, took up bowls.

He died on September 29, 1968, aged 82, and some years later was inducted into the Welsh Sportsmen and Sportswomen Hall of Fame. | Meanwhile, the South Wales Echo dated June 2, 1936, reported: "Mr George White, of 22 Tintern Street, Canton, Cardiff, who was formerly prominent in South Wales athletics circles has died.

"He was also a member of the Canton RFC, which won the Cardiff Junior Challenge Cup in 1896/7. "Mr White, who was in his 59th year, is survived by a widow and seven children."

Mr White was the grandfather of Echo reader Graham Williams who contacted me some years ago now to find out if I knew anything about his grandfather. Well, I discovered that he had been born in Birmingham and he commenced running in cross-country races in 1895 when he joined Cardiff Harriers [not to be confused with my old running club Roath (Cardiff) Harriers].

He was a versatile athlete and competed with great success at distances from 440 yards on the track to nine miles cross-country.

At the great Cardiff Industrial & Maritime Exhibition of 1896, held at Cathays Park, he won the mile event off a handicap of 112 yards.

He was elected club captain in 1901 and that year won a three-mile race from scratch beating top class runners such as W Holt, AC Marks and WH Dyer.

At Sophia Gardens on Boxing Day he won the Bobby Brookes Challenge Cup clocking 28 minutes, 26 seconds for the five-mile course.

He later won an eight-mile sealed handicap race from scratch and was third in the Welsh cross-country championships at Ely Racecourse after an exciting struggle with the winner, A Palmer, and the runner-up, A Turner.

In 1902 when the Welsh crosscountry championships were staged at Caerleon Racecourse, he finished runner-up to A Turner in a field of 72 runners.
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 7, 2017
Words:617
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