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Cecil Healy: A true ‘magic moment’ of Olympic sportsmanship

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It has been 100 years since the death of the only Australian Olympic gold medalist to die in war.

Cecil Healy, who won relay gold at the 1912 Stockholm Games, was killed in France in 1918.

Olympic swimmer John Devitt has written a book about Healy, who is responsible for one of the greatest acts of Olympic sportsmanship.

He tells Alan Jones, Healy denied himself a certain gold in the 100 metres freestyle by insisting the race favourite be allowed to compete, despite him missing his semi due to a mix-up.

“Healy said I’m not going to swim in the final unless the Americans are given a chance to reach the final.

“Three days the argument went on… Healy and the Australian officials won.”

The American ended up swimming and winning the gold, leaving Healy with silver.

At the end of the race, the American came across and lifted Healy’s arm in salute saying “Cecil you are the true Olympian”.

Mr Devitt describes it as a true “magic moment” of Australian history.

The Australian Olympic Committee is marking the anniversary of his death, by creating an award for athletes who display exceptional sportsmanship.

Click PLAY below to hear the full interview 

Listener Maureen rang into the show to share memories of her uncle Harold, who fought and died alongside Healy in the same battalion.

“They were also known as the sportsman battalion,” she tells Alan.

“My uncle was killed with Cecil Healy on this day 100 years ago.

“They were buried together.”

Click PLAY below to hear the call from Maureen

Image: State Library of NSW