Conquering hero returns home with Olympic golds

More than 60,000 people welcomed double Olympic gold medal winner Clarrie Kingsbury back to Portsmouth after his triumph at London 1908
More than 60,000 people welcomed double Olympic gold medal winner Clarrie Kingsbury back to Portsmouth after his triumph at London 1908

THIS WEEK IN 1993: Royal Navy brings in drugs booty

0
Have your say

Facially he had something of the Sir Chris Hoy about him and, perhaps, the lithe body of Bradley Wiggins.

You might well have never heard the name before, but 104 years ago a crowd estimated at more than 60,000 turned out to welcome him home.

His name? Clarrie Kingsbury.

Home? North End, Portsmouth.

The reason for the adulation? He’d just won two Olympic gold medals at London 1908. Oh, and he had gone on straight from his White City success to Leipzig to take part in the world championships. A sort of Wiggo forerunner then.

This picture by legendary Portsmouth photographer Stephen Cribb shows part of the massive crowd which turned out to welcome home the conquering hero. It was taken near the town hall with the train station in the background.

He was given a civic reception and a tour of the city in a carriage pulled by two greys.

Kingsbury was an endurance cyclist and won, on the track, the 20km race and the team pursuit with Ernest (Emile) Payne, Ben Jones and Leonard Meredith.

The White City stadium had been built especially for the games and the cycling circuit, built around the athletics track, was more often than not flooded during an appalling summer.

At the Olympics, the heats and final of the 20km event were held on the same day and after winning the fastest of the heats, Kingsbury beat his team-mate Ben Jones by inches in the final.

Three days later he won his second gold medal in the team pursuit.

He finished fifth in the 5,000 metres competition and was eliminated in the semi-finals of the 660 yards event. In the sprint event he participated in the final when the time limit was exceeded, resulting in the race being declared void and no medals being awarded.

Kingsbury was a remarkably versatile cyclist winning a title every year from 1907 to 1912 at distances ranging from 440 yards to 50 miles. He began racing as a 12-year-old in schoolboy events and won his first open event at the age of 16.