Blast from the past: Lewis wins SA’s only cycling Olympic gold

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Blast from the past: Lewis wins SA’s only cycling Olympic gold

Today in SA sports history: July 7

Journalist

Today in SA sports history: July 7

1912 — Rudolph Lewis wins SA’s first, and so far only, Olympic cycling gold medal when he finishes first in the road race at the Stockholm Games. The race, organised in a time trial format because local police were worried about regular traffic on the road having to cope with groups of cyclists,  started at 2am, with entrants going off every two minutes. Lewis was the second rider off, leaving at 2.02am. He took an early lead in the 320km race around Lake Malar and eventually finished at 12.44pm, his winning time of 10hr 42 min 39 sec breaking the course record by nearly 40 minutes. With the first starter dropping out inside the first two hours after smashing his bicycle, Lewis had nobody to pace. But at least he avoided some of the afternoon heat, unlike second-placed Englishman FG Grubb, who started at 6.30am and in the end was only fewer than nine minutes slower than Lewis.

1928 — Tennis player Pat Spence becomes the first South African to win a grand slam title, taking the Wimbledon mixed-doubles crown with American Elizabeth Ryan. They beat Australians Jack Crawford and Daphne Akhurst 7-5 6-4 in the final. The inclusion of Spence in the SA tennis rankings a month later caused a furore because he hadn’t been resident in the country for eight years at that stage. But it was argued by the sport’s administrators that he had made himself available to represent SA in Davis Cup competitions...

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