ELECTED MEMBERS
   
Last NameSportCountryYear Inducted
HAROLD MAURICE ABRAHAMS

Sport: Track and Field
Inducted: 1981
Country: Great Britain
Born: December 15, 1899 in Bedford, England
Died: January 14, 1978

 

British sprinter Harold Abrahams won the 100-meter gold medal at the 1924 Paris Olympic Games, equaling the Olympic record of 10.6. (He had previously equaled the record in a qualifying heat.) Abrahams was the first non-American to win the sprint event. He also earned a silver medal at the Paris Games, running the lead leg of the 4x100m Relay, and he finished sixth in the 200m event.

Abrahams created considerable controversy in his homeland when, the year of the 1924 Olympics, he hired a coach––the first British athlete to hire a personal trainer. The tactic paid immediate dividends, as Abrahams established new English records in the events he would soon take on at the Paris Olympics. His Olympic story, albeit with much “Hollywood license”, is portrayed in the 1981 Academy Award-winning motion picture “Chariots of Fire”.

The film centers on the personal battle between Abrahams and his “Chariots” protagonist, Scottish track star E.H. Liddell, and their competitive struggles to win the 100m sprint. In actuality, Liddell did not compete in the real 100m event because its finals were held on a Sunday, and Liddell, a devout Presbyterian, would not compete on his Sabbath day. In real life, Abrahams and Liddell met up in the Olympic 200m sprint, and the best the rivals could achieve was a bronze medal for Liddle and a sixth place finish for Abrahams. Liddell won an Olympic gold medal in the 400m event, a race Abrahams did not enter.

Though seldom noted, Abrahams made his initial Olympic appearance at the 1920 Games in Antwerp, the first Olympiad following World War I. However, his promise at home would not be realized on this international stage. His trial heat times failed to qualify for the finals of the 100m and 200m sprints, he had no success in the long jump, and his British 4x100 Relay team managed only a sixth place finish.

A year after his successful 1924 Olympic triumph, a serious leg injury cut short Abraham’s competitive career. A lawyer by profession, he nonetheless continued to distinguished himself as a writer, broadcaster and leader of England’s amateur sports establishment. He was particularly committed to the development of Jewish sports activities in Great Britain.

Abrahams represented England and Northern Ireland on the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF), the international governing body of track and field. In 1948, he was inducted into the Veterans of the IAAF, with such luminaries as King Gustav VI Adolf of Sweden.

 
© 1996- International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame
Webmaster McCord Web Services