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Paris 1924


Armand Blanchonnet - Cycling


Blanchonnet steel wins double gold for France

Leggy cyclist Armand Blanchonnet was not known as the Phenomenon for nothing in his native France, and he proved himself to be one of the most popular performers among the home crowd during the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris.

Blanchonnet was a cyclist of supreme stamina and power and he would sweep his way to two gold medals to confirm France’s love affair with the ‘velo’.

First there was the individual time trial raced over 188 kilometres through the leafy suburbs of Paris, starting and finishing in the Stade Olympique Yves du Manoir.

The sophisticated back-up teams supporting cyclists now were a long way away in those days and many of the competitors set out on their journey as burdened with equipment as a jungle adventurer.

Laden down with spare inner tubes and tyres, the cyclists also carried the food and water they needed to get through a race which would last well over six hours.

Not only were they entrusted with maintaining their bikes in working order, they also had to navigate an array of obstacles including a route which took in several steam railway crossings.

Blanchonnet headed home the 71-man field in a time of six hours 20.48 minutes to take France’s first Olympic gold in the event.

A matter of days later came the team event and, again, Blanchonnet played a key role in achieving an equally comfortable victory.

Racing over the same twisting 188km course, Blanchonnet and team mates Rene Hamel, Andre Leducq and George Wambst, saw the French team home in a cumulative 19 hours 30.14 minutes, some 16 minutes faster than second-placed Belgium.

Discover the best photos of Paris 1924

  • Johnny Weissmuller (USA)

    A part of Hollywood legend for his role as Tarzan, Johnny Weissmuller was nonetheless an accomplished swimmer. At the Paris 1924 Games, he won gold in the 100m freestyle, 400m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle relay. We see him here after his 400m freestyle surrounded by his fellow medal-winners, Sweden’s Arne Borg (2nd, on the right) and the USA’s Andrew Charlton (3rd, on the left)

  • Paavo Nurmi (FIN)

    Finnish athlete Paavo Nurmi won five gold medals at the Paris 1924 Games. He won the individual cross country, team cross country, the 1500m, 5000m and the team 3000m events. On 10 July 1924, he won the 1500m before victoriously taking gold, 55 minutes later (!) in the 5000m


  • Winner’s medal Paris 1924

    The reverse of the medal is occupied by the representation of an athlete helping one of his opponents to stand. This motif thus perfectly illustrates the solidarity that we expect from any athletes taking part in the Olympic Games. Besides this, the Olympic rings appear for the first time on a medal (they are visible here on the upper part of the medal)

  • Liddell Chaired

    18th July 1924: Eric Liddell (1902 - 1945), winner of the 400 metres at the 1924 Paris Olympics, is paraded around Edinburgh University after his victory. He was known as the 'Flying Scotsman' and was immortalised in the film Chariots of Fire. (Photo by Firmin/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

  • Liddell Triumphant

    18th July 1924: Scottish athlete Eric Liddell (1902 - 1945) is paraded around Edinburgh University after winning the 400 metres at the 1924 Paris Olympics. Eric Liddell, known as the 'Flying Scotsman' went to the Paris Olympics in 1924 as the favourite t

  • Eric Liddell

    Scottish athlete and missionary, Eric Henry Liddell (1902 -1945) being carried round the streets after his Olympic victory. Eric Liddell, known as the 'Flying Scotsman' went to the Paris Olympics in 1924 as the favourite to win the 100 metres race but refused to run because he felt that running on a Sunday conflicted with his Christian beliefs. He won a bronze medal in the 200 metres event instead and then ran the 400 metre race despite having little experience at the distance. He not only won the gold medal but broke the world record by completing the race in 47.6 seconds, an achievement which is celebrated in the 1981 film 'Chariots of Fire'. Liddell gained two degrees, one in science and the other in divinity, before leaving Britain to work as a Scottish Congregational Church missionary in China as his parents had before him. Original Publication: People Disc - HG0205 (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)