Olympic Archery in 1908

6 May, 2014

It’s British Pathé Tuesday, and I’ve dug up a brief clip from the London Olympics of 1908. Naples was originally scheduled to host the event before a devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius sunk that plan. London rose to the challenge, and organised a games in two years flat, building a single new stadium that held almost every event – there was a pool in the middle for the swimming events and raised platforms for the boxing, wrestling etc. Compare and contrast with what is happening in Rio.

There is just a brief clip of the women’s event here, although the whole thing is worth watching:

At the 1908 Summer Olympics, three archery events were contested. Great Britain sent 41 archers, France sent 15 men, and the United States sent one man. There were three archery events – the continental style, dominated by France, the men’s double York round, won by Britain’s William Dod, and the women’s double National round, won by Britain’s Queenie Newall – with William Dod’s sister Lottie Dod taking silver. Britain were always going to win the women’s event – all 26 entrants were British. 


Queenie Newall.


On the first day of the archery competition the weather in White City Stadium was so poor that the event was stopped at one point. On the close of the first day Queenie was behind Dod by ten points. The second day’s weather was much improved and Queenie overtook Dod, eventually winning with a score of 688 points, 46 points ahead of Dod who finished in the silver medal position. The victory made Queenie the oldest woman to win an Olympic medal, at the age of 53 years and 275 days, a record which still stands.

Queenie’s main rival, Alice Legh declined to compete at the London Olympics in order to prepare for her defence of the national title a week later.  She successfully defended the title against Newall, the Olympic gold medal winner, by a large margin. 

After the 1908 Olympics, no female British archer won an Olympic medal until Alison Williamson won the bronze in the women’s individual competition at the 2004 Athens Olympics.


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