The Olympics, and Para-Olympics, are over in London, and returning athletes from both these competitions are already home. However, in previous Olympics which took place around the world, it may have been many weeks or months before the athletes could return home, depending on where they had to travel to, and get back from.
Our feature video for this week shows athletes returning to the Port of New York from the 1920 Olympic Games, or the Games of the VII Olympiad, held in Antwerp, Belgium. Although we do not have a record of most of the athletes that are featured returning on this transport ship, we do know that the close up of a single athlete is of Mr. Patrick McDonald, a policeman with the City of New York and a prominent Irish-American.
Pat McDonald won the gold medal at the Olympic Games that year for the 56 pound weight throw event. In fact, not only did he win the event (at the age of forty) , but he set the world record which to this day has not been beaten. He had preciously won the gold for the shot putt at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, although the weight throw event was his speciality, a popular event in Irelands traditional games and one at which his family excelled. After moving to America in the early 1900’s, he joined the police department in NYC in 1905, and served the force for over 40 years, retiring as a captain. He was a prominent member of the Irish American Athletic Club in the city and won many national and metropolitan championships in weight throwing. He was a popular traffic cop, was nicknamed ‘Babe’, although he often stood out in his uniform at 6 foot 4 and over 280 pounds. To attend the Olympics he took a leave of absence without pay.
We would like to be able to name the other athletes that returned on the same transport ship as Patrick McDonald – can you help us identify them? One of them could be Hawaii born, Duke Kahanamoku, who had won an Olympic gold medal for the 100 meters freestyle and the men’s 4x200m relay in the swimming competition. One of them could also be Paddy Ryan, another Irish NY policeman, who not only won the silver in the same event as Pat McDonald, but who also went on to win the gold in the Hammer Throw event. Other athletes who attended this Olympics for the United States include Charley Paddock (Men’s 100m, Gold), Frankie Genaro (Boxing, Flyweight, Gold), Brutus Hamilton (Men’s Decathlon, Silver), and Nat Pendleton (Wrestling, Heavyweight, Silver).
Watch the whole video here: http://mirc.sc.edu/fedora/repository/usc%3A2108
Blog written by Lydia Pappas, Curator, MIRC