Ernie Payne's Olympic Gold Cycling Medal - Worcesterís
first Olympic hero.
Our object this
month reminds us of Worcesterís first Olympic hero, from
the London Olympics of 1908, when badminton played no part
in the competition!
Ernie Payne, from Worcesterís
St Johnís Cycling Club, took part in the 4000 metre cycling
pursuit, winning gold with his team-mates some ten seconds
ahead of Germany.
The museum collection
contains a replica of Payneís gold medal, donated in 1977 by the cycling
club, as well as memorabilia and photographs of his long and successful
career. Mysteriously the original medal disappeared without trace
just after the First World War. It turned out to be Great Britainís
last gold medal in the event, as Italy and then France dominated the
Ernie Payne took part in a very controversial
Olympics even by todayís standards. The 1908 Games were originally
awarded to Rome but Italy backed out for financial reasons. The London
Olympics were held in the newly constructed Shepherds Bush stadium,
accommodating 68,000 people. These Games were notable for the acrimonious
disputes between the United States and Britain in several events.
It was also the Games when the Marathon was extended from 25 miles
to 26 miles and 385 yards to give the Royal Family a better view of
the starting line! Britain eventually finished in 4th place in the
medal table behind France, Greece and the USA.