Tuesday, 6 January 2015

The Greatest Sporting Contest Never Told

Paris 1900 - The Games of the II Olympiad

Thursday, 28th June

Welcome back Ladies and Gentlemen. It has been an enthralling day here at the Croquet one-ball singles tournament and now the climax fast approaches as we reach the final of the competition.

There is just time for me to run down the events of the day in case you have missed them. It began this morning with 9 competitors. There was a strong field from the French team who submitted no fewer than 8 players, while the other contestant, Marcel Haentjens, came from Belgium. Sadly he was one of 5 who was eliminated in the first round, along with all 3 of the female contestants. Waydelich played superbly and finished first with an excellent score of 11. Also progressing to the second round were Johin, Blachère and Aumoitte.

The second round was a close fought battle all the way through and tempers occasionally spilled over, so great was the tension. There was also some controversy when Waydelich accused Johin of moving his ball with his foot. In the end, however, it was Johin who triumphed with a score of 16, ahead of Aumoitte on 18.

So after all the excitement throughout the day, we come at last to the Gold Medal Match and it's Frenchman versus Frenchman here in Paris.

As Johin and Aumoitte appear from the Pavilion and begin their warm ups the atmosphere goes up a notch. A near silence descends over the field and the crowd is visibly tense. I can see a man on the far side who, it seems, is already finding it hard to watch, preferring instead to reread this morning's newspaper. There's a Union Flag draped across his shoulders, and I must say it's excellent to see that the neutrals have turned up to support this event. In fact it's excellent that he is here at all because currently he's the only spectator, but never mind that, we are almost ready for the start of this grand final.

Sadly at this point, for unknown reasons the broadcast was cut off and didn't return for some time. It did, though, start up again just in time for listeners to hear:

HE'S DONE IT! Aumoitte has swept away the challenge of Johin and finishes victorious at 15-21. He raises both arms aloft and pumps the air with his mallet, it's a fantastic sight. Now he goes across to shake hands with Johin. Our English spectator over there is giving Aumoitte a standing ovation. Oh, no, actually he's just leaving.

Well on that note I suppose it's time to end this broadcast of the Croquet one-ball singles championship where Gaston Aumoitte has claimed the Gold Medal. Congratulations to him, I suppose he'll be back in 4 years to defend his title of Olympic Champion, I hope you'll join us again then too. Till next time, goodbye!

Sadly the Olympic Committee decided that Croquet would not feature at the III Olympiad in St Louis, although some Americanised event called Roque, featured instead, so Aumoitte remains the undefeated Croquet champion. He also won gold in the doubles competition alongside Johin, although there is some doubt that there was actually any competition (it's unclear if second place was ever awarded).

Most of the events described are true and to be honest I'm disappointed it didn't make a come back at London 2012, but there's always next time!

Croquet at the 1900 Olympic tournament

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