Human Limits

Exploring performance and health with Michael J. Joyner, M.D.

Photo of Michael J. Joyner, M.D.

Opening Ceremony 1948 vs. 2012

The opening ceremony of the Olympics was quite a spectacle last night with the Queen, James Bond, and the Sex Pistols essentially performing at the same gig. London is the first city to host the Games three times.  In 1948 London was rebuilding and recovering from World War II and things were much simpler. 

In that year the Olympic Oath was given by British high hurdler Donald Finlay.  Finlay was 39 years old and had won a bronze medal in the 110m high hurdles at the 32 Olympics and silver in 1936.   He was the favorite to win in 1940 at Tokyo, but the games were canceled due to World War II.  During the war Finlay was an RAF fighter pilot in the Battle of Britain and one of the few thousand people who saved European civilization from itself. 

After the war Finlay remained in the RAF and attained the rank of Group Captain.   He continued to compete at a high level into his early 40s and if you look at his results in other events perhaps he should have tried the decathlon.   Early in his career he competed against Lord Burghley, who was the model for the aristocratic high hurdler in the movie Chariots of Fire.

Leave a Reply