Saturday Video: Meet the Olympic Gold Medallist – from 1920!

This video isn’t even two minutes long, but throughout the course of watching it, I think I said “oh my god” about forty times, which always bodes well, doesn’t it? Enjoy this compilation of clips from the 1920 Antwerp Olympic Games, wherein Sweden’s Helmer Mörner took both individual and team gold in the eventing. This was just the second time the sport had been included in the Olympics: its official introduction came in 1912 in Stockholm, but the 1916 Berlin Olympics were cancelled as war raged through Europe.

In these early years, Sweden was the dominant superpower in the then-military sport, which had a very different look and feel to the sport as we know it today. Safety devices? Nonexistent — they didn’t even wear helmets at this point. Roping on cross-country courses? Nope — you could plunge through a copse of trees and straight into the close-quartered crowd, adding an extra element of chaos to proceedings. Take-off and landing maintenance? Don’t be silly: you jumped the ground as you found it, even if that meant leaping up or down a decaying near-vertical slope. The showjumping was interesting too, as you’ll see in this clip — one fence was to be jumped both ways, with a stopping point just beyond the landing side to pull up, turn, and then jump again from. Bonkers, but the basis for what could be a useful training exercise at home, we reckon.

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