Colin Murray has been visiting all of Great Britain’s Olympic gold medallists and I may have missed it or he could have been referring to a previous program, but he closed by talking about Jim Fox. As he won his gold medal in the modern pentathlon way back in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, he has probably dropped off the sporting radar a bit. However this article in the Independent from 1998 gives a lot more details about Jim and his various fights, against Russian cheats, bureaucracy and Parkinson’s Disease.
This the first paragraph from the Independent.
One figure stood out among the galaxy of personalities on parade at the 50th anniversary bash of the Sports Writer’s Association last week. Indeed, Jim Fox stood out because he insisted on standing, albeit more stiffly than the rest, declining a proffered seat, his dignified presence a sobering reminder of a gentler, more romantic era before the pursuit of sporting glory became suffused by greed, drugs and duplicity.
Remember Foxy? Once he led the charge down sport’s superhighway, a swashbuckling, Corinthian hero in an age when sportsmen were men, and women seemed happy to be ladies. And Foxy was a ladies’ man, a ruggedly handsome, 6ft 3in dashing white sergeant, single, and single-minded who, on his own admission was a bit of a stud; swordsman supreme, in every sense. Now, at 57, the old soldier who was, arguably, Britain’s outstanding all- round sportsman is a victim of Parkinson’s Disease and fights on two fronts – for his own future and that of the sport with which he became identified.
I met him in the early 1990′s, when he was making a comeback and attempted to get into the British Eventing Team. We just chatted about the horses and he talked about his problems, which he put down to falling off too many horses. I don’t know whether the real diagnosis had been made.
He was an impressive man and that meeting left an indelible mark on my mind.
He must be the Last Corinthian, as sport now is just too well-funded and professional, so another will not come along. Fox was as professional in the five disciplines of modern pentathlon as anybody, but he competed in the true Corinthian spirit in the tradition of those like C. B. Fry.
I am afraid, that we won’t see the mavericks too at the Olympics in the future.
Australia has one of the bravest in Bill Roycroft. All it says in Wikipedia about his winning of the gold medal in eventing is this.
Although seriously injured during the 1960 Olympics in Rome, he left his hospital bed to compete in Show Jumping, which was the final event. He rode a flawless round, and Australia won the Gold Medal.
The truth, is more out of Aussie versions of Greek Heroic Myths.
The deed for which Bill Roycroft will forever be renowned occurred at the Rome Olympics in 1960. On the last day of the three-day equestrian event, Australia faced a grim predicament. Two riders, Laurie Morgan and Neale Lavis, were doing well; Brian Crago’s horse had broken down, and the fourth member of the team, Bill Roycroft, was in hospital – concussed, sedated, with extensive bruising and muscle damage. Doctors refused to sanction his release from hospital. The problem was that, if Australia was to win the team event, it needed three finishers. Roycroft had fallen during the steeplechase phase the previous day after his horse, Our Solo, somersaulted over pipes and landed on him. He had climbed groggily back, finished the course, then been given oxygen (and whisky) and flown by helicopter to a hospital outside Rome.
Next morning, with the final phase, the show-jumping, due to start soon, Roycroft insisted on signing himself out of hospital. The doctors said no, and refused to give him his clothes; he then threatened to leave in his underpants. Finally, he signed a document taking responsibility for his safety, and was allowed to go. He was 45, laced heavily with pain-killers, unable to bend, and his comrades had to dress him for the last ride. He was virtually folded onto Our Solo, and the reins were placed in his hands. Stiffly, flawlessly, he completed the round of 12 jumps, ensuring team gold for Australia. (Morgan also won the individual event). Roycroft, patriarch of a legendary riding family, competed in four more Olympics, winning team bronze in 1968 and 1976. He also carried the flag at the Mexico Opening Ceremony in 1968.
It can’t be a myth as it’s on the Internet. But even the author, left out the bit about jumping the round with his arm in a sling. Roycroft won his bronze medal in 1976 at over sixty.
Mavericks too, must include Dick Fosbury, who developed a new method of high-jumping and then turned up at the US Olympic Trials in 1968, won it and then went on to win the gold medal at the Olympics in Mexico. Without his method, Mary Peters would never have got her gold in Munich.