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Antwerp 1920 - Key Moments

Kelly bent double on revenge

Jack Kelly took his revenge on the organisers of the Henley-on-Thames rowing regatta, who had previously prevented his participation in the event. Undoubtedly, coupled with his obvious talent for rowing, this formed a major part of his determination until realising victory in the skiff in Antwerp.

Kelly, a 20-year-old manual worker from Philadelphia, beat Britain's Jack Beresford, winner of the famous regatta a few weeks previously, by a mere second.

A half-hour following Kelly's victory, he embarked on the double sculls event joined by his compatriot Paul Costello. In 7 minutes 9 seconds, he won his second gold medal. Two titles in thirty minutes: a feat no other athlete has since accomplished at the Olympic Games.


His exclusion from the English regatta was apparently due to the fact that he belonged to the Vesper Rowing Club of Philadelphia, a club that was considered semi-professional by the English organisers. Officially, they gave the excuse that the British "gentlemen" did not find it sporting to compete against a manual worker.

Four years later, Kelly, whose daughter grew up to become Princess Grace of Monaco, retained his title in the coxed pairs.

Yet his most noted revenge on the conformity of the English came when his son, John Junior, won the Henley Regatta twice (1947 and 1949) - the event in which he was denied the chance to perform at the time of winning his gold medals.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.

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