On This Day in Olympic History – 9 November

On this day in Olympic history, …

  • 319 Olympians were born, and …
  • 81 Olympians died
  • The 400-metre running twins, Noel and Christopher Chavasse (GBR), who competed at the 1908 Olympics, were born in 1884. Noel was killed in World War I at Ieper, Belgium.
  • Heywood Edwards (USA), a wrestler at the 1928 Olympics, was born in 1905. Edwards attended the US Naval Academy. He died aboard the USS Reuben James, the first US navy ship to be sunk in the Atlantic during World War II. The USS Heywood L. Edwards would be named in his honour.
  • Viktor Chukarin (URS), the first great male Soviet gymnast, individual all-around champion at the 1952 and 1956 Olympics, was born in 1921. Very old for a gymnast, Chukarin had been a prisoner-of-war during World War II.
  • Alice Coachman (USA) was born in 1923. Coachman won the high jump at the 1948 Olympics, becoming the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal.
  • Sven Hannawald, German ski jumper, was born in 1974. Hannawald won three Olympic ski jumping medals in 1998-2002 including a gold in the 2002 team event, but he is best known as the only ski jumper to win all four events in the Four Hills Tournament (Vierschanzentournee) in the same season, which he did in 2001-02.
  • Pietro Speciale, Italian fencer at the 1908/12/20 Olympics, died on this day in 1945 in Palermo. Speciale won a team foil gold medal in 1920 and an individual foil silver in 1912.
  • Eero Lehtonen (FIN), who won the pentathlon in track & field at the 1920 and 1924 Olympics, and remains the defending champion in the event, as it was never held again, died in 1959. Lehtonen also competed in the long jump and decathlon in 1920 and the 4×400 relay in 1924.
  • Dick Howard (USA), bronze medalist in the 1960 400 metre hurdles, died of a heroin overdose in 1967, shortly after he left prison after serving a 7-year term for drug charges. The silver medalist in that event also died tragically, though Cliff Cushman met his end fighting in Vietnam.
  • Cliff Gray, American bobsledder who won gold medals in the 4-man event in both 1928 and 1932, died on this day in 1969, at least we think he did. The confusion relating to the true identity of Clifford Gray has persisted almost since the day he left the Olympic scene. See the recent book Speed Kings by Andy Bull for a full discussion of Gray/Grey’s identity (even the spelling is confusing), which Bull unearthed with the assistance of Hilary Evans, one of our OlyMADMen.
  • Lewis Luxton (AUS), the son of an IOC Member of the same name, who rowed at the 1932 Olympics for Great Britain, and later also became an IOC Member, that for Australia, died on this day in 1985.

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