Ireland’s medal haul in 1908

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, Features, Issue 4 (July/August 2012), Volume 20

At the London Olympic Games in 1908 Irish-born athletes won 33 medals. In athletics Irish-born athletes won five golds—hammer, 200m sprint, triple jump (then known as the ‘hop, step and jump’), discus and discus (Greek-style). Silver medals were won in the shot-put, the hammer and the high jump, and bronze medals in the 100m sprint, the hammer and the standing long jump. The discus (Greek-style) and the standing long jump are now discontinued events at the Olympic Games but in 1908 they were hotly contested, with 24 competitors in the standing long jump and 21 competitors in the discus (Greek-style). John Flanagan, Bobby Kerr, Tim Aherne and Martin Sheridan were Olympic gold medallists. Denis Horgan, Matt McGrath and Con Leahy won silver medals and Con Walsh, Martin Sheridan and Bobby Kerr won bronze medals, giving Irish-born athletes eleven medals in total, an outstanding achievement. And there were many more, in shooting, archery, hockey and other sports too, but athletics was seen as the blue riband of the Olympics, as it still is.

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