John Boland was an Oxford student who enjoyed the study of Greek mythology. When he learned about the Olympic Games’ revival, Boland travelled to Athens to watch the Olympic Games as a spectator.
An unexpected participation
However, his friend, Thrasyvoalos Manaos, Secretary of the Athens 1896 Organising Committee, entered Boland into the tennis competition. Despite competing with leather-soled shoes with heels, Boland won the competition and became an Olympic champion in both the double and singles tournament. He later became a Member of Parliament and an ardent proponent of Irish independence and the Irish language.