The Launch of 'A Proper Spectacle'

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(From left to right) Joyce Badcock, Sarah Hunt, Eva Spinks, Maud Norklit, Dorothy Tyler, Audrey Court, Brenda Halligan

The launch of 'A Proper Spectacle' was held on Sunday March 19th at Bedford Athletic Stadium - and what a wonderful time was had by all! Seven of the women featured in the book made the journey to attend. From the Berlin Olympics of 1936, Dorothy Tyler (nee Odam) high jumper silver medalist, Audrey Court (nee Brown) sprinter and relay silver medalist, Brenda Halligan (nee Crowe) member of the British gymnastics team all shared stories about Hitler and their amazing time together. Canadian high jump bronze medalist from 1932, Eva Spinks (nee Dawes) enthralled everyone with her stories about Babe Didrikson and we all discussed ‘Did Babe dive or didn’t she?’

There was not a dry eye in the house when team mates and silver medalists in the relay from the Amsterdam Olympics of 1928, Joyce Badcock (nee Cooper) and Sarah 'Cissie' Hunt (nee Stewart) met for the first time in 70 years.

The only living competitor from the Womens World Games of 1926 and sprinter in the 100 metres at the Amsterdam Olympics of 1928, Maud Norklit (nee Sundberg) travelled from Sweden to attend the event. With her blue leather jacket slung jauntily over one shoulder, her feather earrings and her rather cool shades Maud was a wonderful advertisement for the long walks in the Swedish forests, jazz dance and music that Maud says ‘Keep the body fresh and the soul in harmony.’ British Honorary Member to the IOC and Olympic fencer Dame Mary Glen Haig MBE, honoured the women by her attendance.

Lunch was held at our village restaurant ‘The Knife and Cleaver’ where 30 sat down to talk, eat and drink. We then went on to Bedford Athletic Stadium where over 100 people, including former Olympians, were gathered to hear radio and TV journalist Jenni Mills introduce the women to the crowd with great style and panache.

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The moment when Joyce and Cissie met

The Deputy Mayor welcomed the women to Bedford and Steph and I said a few words about our experience of writing the book. There were some hard bits - acknowledging the families of women who had died (some of whom were with us) was not easy. Steph read some of the messages that we had received - one in particular stood out from Domnitsa Cavanidou (Greek athlete from 1936) who said that she was so pleased with our work and that she saw ‘A Proper Spectacle’ as "Our book", inferring that the book belonged to all Olympic women.

The foreword for 'A Proper Spectacle' has been written by Bedford’s star athlete, Paula Radcliffe, who was running in Portugal and could not attend. Everyone present appreciated the fact that Paula had taken the time to send a message which Jenni Mills read on Paula’s behalf:

"I hope you all enjoy the launch. It has been a pleasure to be involved with this book which highlights the importance of women's involvement in sports and the Olympic movement. Without the dedication of some very determined and talented women, the sportswomen of today would not be able to enjoy near sporting equality. Today we have the chance to compete in the Olympic arena and show what we are capable of, it is easy to take this for granted and forget the struggle others had to get us to this level. Enjoy the book!"

flowers.jpg (18344 bytes) The afternoon culminated with the presentation of violets by 12 year old gymnast Clare McGregor and Dame Mary and Brenda Halligan cut the Centenary Cake we had made.

It was very special. Channel 4’s Transworld Sport’ did cover the event - and they say it will be shown during April. We think they’ll have some unique and very special footage. ‘