Bob Tisdall

Born 16 May 1907

Name ID 1435

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Extract Date: 1932


Irish Olympic Council

This in fact brought a very special moment in Olympic history for Ireland. Within the short space of an hour Ireland won two Olympic gold medals on Monday, August 1st, 1932.

The first was won by Robert Morton Newburgh Tisdall, always known as simply Bob, who, although he was born in Ceylon, was thoroughly Irish by his lineage. His Olympic victory had the element of a fairy-tale about it.

Early in 1932, he wrote to General Eoin O'Duffy, then the President of the Irish Olympic Council and asked to be considered for the Irish Olympic Team in the 400 metres hurdles and he also confessed that he had not previously run in the event.

O'Duffy was immensely taken by the letter and later invited Tisdall to compete in a special Olympic trial at Croke Park in Dublin. Tisdall failed to make the qualifying time but O’Duffy gave him another chance and Bob Tisdall qualified for the Irish Team by winning the National 440 yards hurdles title at the Irish Championships also at Croke Park.

After winning his preliminary Olympic heat in Los Angeles, Bob Tisdall equalled the Olympic record of 52.8 seconds in the semi-final and then in the final, despite stumbling at the final hurdle, he won the Olympic gold medal in 51.7 seconds which would have been a world record but for the fact that he had knocked over the last hurdle and under the laws prevailing at the time this ruled out recognition of a world record.

Men's 400m. Hurdles Final. Olympic Games 1932

1. Robert Tisdall (IRL) 51.7 WR

2. Glenn HARDIN (USA) 51.9

3. F. Morgan TAYLOR (USA) 52.0

4. David BURGHLEY (GBR) 52.2

5. Luigi FACELLI (ITA) 53.0

6. Johan Kjell ARESKOURG (SWE) 54.6

Extract ID: 3858

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Extract Date: 1932

Robert Morton Newburgh (Bob) Tisdall

RTE web site, taken from Modern Irish Lives: Dictionary of 20th-century Biography, Louis McRedmond (General Ed.), Gill & Macmillan, Dublin, 1996

ROBERT MORTON NEWBURGH (Bob) Tisdall (1907 - ) athlete

Born 16th May 1907, Nuwara Eliya, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka)

Born to an Anglo-Irish family, he was raised in Nenagh, County Tipperary. He had run only six 400m hurdles when he won the gold medal at the 1932 Olympic Games in a world record time of 51.7 seconds, which was not recognised under the rules of time because he had a hit a hurdle. Earlier, while at Shrewsbury, he won the Public Schools 440 yards, and at Cambridge he won a record four events - 440 yards and 120 yards hurdles, long jump and shot - in the annual match against Oxford.

He set South African and Canadian records in the 220 yards low hurdles in 1929, a year later setting Greek records in the same event. While at Cambridge in March 1932, he decided to try for a place in the Irish Olympic squad and after he ran 54.2 seconds (a record) for the Irish Championship 440 yards hurdles in June that year, the authorities agreed to let him run in his new event at the Los Angeles Olympics, where he also came eighth in the decathlon. He eventually settled in Queensland, Australia.

Extract ID: 3860

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nTZ Feedback
Extract Author: Shaun Conner
Page Number: 2008 08 20
Extract Date: 1954

Oldeani Farmers express their fears

I have found an interesting newspaper cutting from a Kenyan Newspaper. They mention my uncle as being aged 59 so it must have been written in 1954. Its about the Oldiani farmers expressing their fears and worries about the Mau Mau troubles in Kenya, to the Tanganyika Governor, Sir Edward Twining. I had to scan it twice in order to get it all to you. If you are able to sort of put it together as it were I am sure it will be of interest, otherwise I could post it to you? When I have time I have a lot of things like this in amongst my Uncle's papers.

Extract ID: 5826

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Marsh, R.J. and E.P Safari Diaries
Page Number: 12
Extract Date: 1955 August 4

Wednesday

We got under way in good time with breakfast, and then went along to the Karatu dukas before leaving at 9.30 for a day’s visiting of the farms.

First we called at Jimmy Gibb’s - almost opposite the Karatu dukas, about three miles off the road. He showed us over his farm - coffee (which is doing very well everywhere in Oldeani this year, nearly ready for picking, and looks a bumper crop), maize and wheat (this has failed nearly everywhere, through rust, a wheat disease. The Tisdall’s have written all their wheat off). Gibb is now irrigating his coffee by overhead piping, and giving a regular and uniform spray over a wide area. He taps his water from a stream at the top of the farm, about 6,000 ft. up, near the forest reserve. This has a drop of 2-300 ft. to give him his pressure. He took us up to see the dam he had made at a waterfall. His men had carried all the cement etc. required for this and we followed the path up through the forest which they made. There were evidences of large animals around, though not very recently! The last lap was up a sheer scramble, and Paul hedged at first and almost refused to go further. However we made it and got up to the waterfall, now dry because of the dam, though Gibb opened up the sluice for a while to let the boys see the water drop down over the fall of about 60 ft.

We then went on to Beaumont's, where we had lunch. He is on his own at the moment as his family are still in England. We met his next door neighbour who came over after lunch [Haman]. Coming back on main road, called on Aston and had a long talk with him. Then called at Lutheran Mission before going over to the centre area of Oldeani again to call on the Braunshweig’s and then the Notleys on way down. Returned to Karatu by about 6.30.

Extract ID: 577

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Sadleir, Randal Tanzania, Journey to Republic
Page Number: 211
Extract Date: 1958

Oldeani Farmers

Some European farmers grew wheat at nearby Oldeani, including the Irish Olympic hurdler Bob Tisdall.

Also at Oldeani was the quaintly named Paradise Bar where Frank Reynolds (the DC Mbulu), Kitwana Chumu and I once spent an evening admiring the epicene beauty of Iraq youth. The combination of wild scenery with a good climate gave one an extra elixir of life and I felt a daily joie de vivre seldom equalled elsewhere. The clear starlit nights, the crisp morning mists, the gaiety and charm of the people cast a spell over the denizens of this enchanted land.

Extract ID: 4392

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Extract Author: Bob Tisdall
Extract Date: 1960

An Olympic Memory

Bob Tisdall, Olympic Gold Medallist, 400mH, 1932, in An Olympic Memory, Rome 1960

"Sport can open up a door, as it were, between men. The world is full of closed doors and drawn curtains, and this Olympic door must therefore never be closed. And those symbolic rings emblazoned above it must be kept bright and shining to bring that peace and goodwill for which the world is craving."

Extract ID: 3861

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Conner, Shaun Memories of Colonel T.S.Conner DSO KPM
Page Number: 03
Extract Date: 1967

Last elephant shoot

The Col had been a tremendous sportsman during his Army days and continued with his interest in Tanzania by supporting their Olympic hockey team. He went with them to the Olympics in Rome, Tokyo, Mexico and Munich, also attending Commonwealth Games in between, Jamaica and Edinburgh, all at his own expense. He was on the Olympic Hockey Appeal Jury.

On his trip to Rome he was accompanied by the former Olympic runner Bob Tisdale and his wife, they were also farming in Oldiani.

The Colonel was also very keen on hunting and shooting, as you might expect from 35 years in India and though its politically incorrect now, then, it wasn't. He went on his last elephant shoot in Tanzania in 1967 and amongst the photos attached is one of him on that trip. I remember the name of Royce Buckle which i have seen on your website and i know my Uncle used to shoot with him. In another shooting photo attached there are several people somebody might recognise. My father is immediately on the left of the photo, only just in it and on the far side is Van Wyke

Extract ID: 5524

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Extract Date: 2002

Tipperary: Olympic champion represented on film

The Irish Emigrant

When the statues of Nenagh's three Olympic champions were officially unveiled last week the ceremony was enlivened by a film featuring the only survivor, ninety-five-year-old Bob Tisdall. Bob, who won the 400m hurdles at the 1932 Olympic Games, was not able to make the journey from Australia for the ceremony, but he expressed his pleasure at having a statue honouring his achievement. The film was shown to some three hundred guests in the Dromineer Bay Hotel after the unveiling by Ronnie Delaney, another Olympic champion. Bob Tisdall had lived in Summerhill, Monsea and Hazelpoint, Dromineer.

Extract ID: 3859

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Extract Date: 31 July 2004

Bob Tisdall - Ireland's Greatest Sporting Legend

City of Derry Athletics Club

[Picture: Bob Tisdall (253) Wins from "Slats" Hardin (430) of the United States]

Bob Tisdall died on Wednesday [July 28] at his home in Australia.

Malcolm McCausland recalls recalls the amazing story of the man who won gold at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles almost exactly 72 years ago.

When Bob Tisdall crossed the finish line in the 400 metres hurdles at the Olympics in Los Angeles almost exactly 72 years ago (1 August 1932) he became only the second man to strike gold in the green of Ireland. It also capped an amazing chapter in the life of one of the country’s greatest and most remarkable athletes.

Tisdall’s victory came as a major surprise - he had only run the 400 metres hurdles three times before arriving in Los Angeles - and he was denied a world record of 51.7 seconds only because he knocked down the final hurdle. Later because of the incident the rules were changed and a few years ago the President of the International Olympic Committee Juan Samaranch presented him with a Waterford Crystal rose bowl with an image showing him knocking over a hurdle.

Robert Morton Newburgh Tisdall was born on the 16 May 1907 in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. Although born to an Anglo-Irish family Bob, as he was always known, was 100% per cent Irish in his breeding. His father was an All-Ireland sprint champion while his mother was an Irish hockey international and by all accounts a formidable golfer.

Inspired by the acrobats on a visit to circus as a young boy, he developed an interest in physical culture that was to last all his life. For weeks afterwards he spent all his free time doing cartwheels, walking on his hands and using the branches of a tree as a trapeze.

It was in prep school at Mourne Grange, standing in the shadow of Slieve Donard, that he first found a gym which enabled him to develop the skill, balance and poise that was eventually to take him to the winner’s podium in Los Angeles.

After Mourne Grange he went to public school at Shrewsbury where at the age of 14 the fascination for hurdling had already gripped him. After leaving school he went to work in an office in London but after only ten months of city life an x-ray showed he had deposits of soot in his lungs. He was advised to live in the country and it was only then that a university career was considered. But he had no formal qualifications from Shrewsbury which would have gained him entrance and was refused a sports scholarship at Oxford. He worked hard for and passed the entrance exam to Cambridge in 1928.

A very successful athletics career followed and in his final year, 1931, Tisdall was elected CUAC president charged with the responsibility of selecting the team for the annual match against Oxford. He played a captain’s part winning four of the eight individual events – a feat only equalled 60 years later. He could have won a fifth, his strongest event the 220 yards hurdles, but showing his measure as a man he stood down so that a friend would have the opportunity of winning a full-blue.

Early in 1932 he wrote an impassioned letter to the President of the Irish Olympic Council, General Eoin O’Duffy, asking him to be considered to represent Ireland at the Olympics later that year. O’Duffy was so taken by the tone of the letter, he immediately invited the Nenagh man over to run in Ireland’s Olympic Trials at Croke Park. To pursue his Olympic dream, Bob promptly left his job and moved with his wife to Sussex where he lived in a disused railway carriage in an orchard and trained by running around the rows of trees.

Tisdall failed to make qualifying time at the trial but was given another chance by O’Duffy at the Irish Championships, also at Croke Park. This time, he made no mistake winning in a national record of 54.2 seconds, well inside the 55.0 seconds standard. After two weeks at the Irish Olympic training camp at Ballybunion, Co. Kerry, he faced the tortuous 14 day journey to California.

According to contemporary accounts the temperatures crossing the deserts of Nebraska and Colorado had registered in excess of 118°F (53°C). Tisdall whose normal racing weight was 11st 11lb (75kg) lost seven pounds (3.5kg). He had also slept badly during the 14 day journey and was anxious on account of having only raced over the 400 metres hurdles three times previously in his lifetime. In Los Angeles he lost another three pounds and amazed everyone by spending 15 out of every 24 hours in bed. Even more surprisingly, he never put on a running shoe or ran a yard!

Three days before the heats he tried a jog but discovered that the foot injury sustained twelve months previously had recurred on him. Had the Games been held today he would probably have withdrawn but in a less sophisticated era he merely attributed his symptoms to nerves.

Nevertheless, Tisdall opened his account in Los Angeles by winning his preliminary round heat in 54.8 seconds before leading home the competitors in the second semi-final in 52.8 seconds, 1.4 seconds faster than his personal best.

Drawn in lane three, Tisdall seemed to enjoy a narrow advantage over his five rivals in the early part of the final and was well ahead when the field entered the home straight. He was still comfortably clear coming down the home straight but in the dash to the line he brought down the final hurdle making him stumble for five or six strides and allowed the American Hardin to get within a yard of him at the tape.

Tisdall’s time of 51.7 seconds would have been a world record but under the rules at the time was disallowed because of Tisdall bringing down the final hurdle. The Tipperary man did not any waste time celebrating but immediately made for the throwing area. There he encouraged his friend and team mate Dr Pat O’Callaghan who had trailed Finn Ville Porhola for five rounds in the hammer to win a second Irish gold with his last throw of the competition. It completed Ireland’s greatest ever hour in the Olympic Arena winning two gold medals in only the country’s second Olympiad.

Later Bob lived in South Africa, where he ran a gymnasium which he converted to a nightclub in the evening. He moved to Tanzania and grew coffee before raising cattle in Australia. He claimed to have run his last race at the age of 80 and took part in the Sydney Olympics torch relay. He was present in Nenagh in 2002 when a statue was unveiled in memory of him and the town’s two other Olympic champions, John Hayes and Matty McGrath. Last year, he was involved in a serious accident in which he ruptured his spleen as well as breaking his shoulder blade and several ribs after he falling down a steep set of rock stairs. But within a short time he was back on his feet - only minor setback for a man who conquered the world all those years ago.

Extract ID: 4874

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Extract Date: August 01, 2004

Bob Tisdall dies

The Blog of Death

Robert Morton Newburgh Tisdall, the world's oldest track and field Olympic gold medalist, died in his sleep this week. The exact date of his death was not released. He was 97.

Born in Ceylon to an Anglo-Irish family, Tisdall was a natural athlete who set South African, Canadian and Greek records in the hurdles. While studying at Cambridge University, he wrote an impassioned letter to Gen. Eoin O'Duffy, the president of the Irish Olympic Council, to request an audition for the Irish Olympic Team. His try-out was granted.

Tisdall's first run failed to impress, but during his second attempt, he ran the 400m hurdles in 54.2 seconds and qualified for the 1932 Olympics. He prepared for the competition by leaping over sheep grazing in England's South Downs.

At the Los Angeles Games, Tisdall won the 400m hurdles race in 51.7 seconds and became the second Irishman in history to win a gold medal for his country. He actually broke the world record time in the event, but his accomplishment was not recorded because he knocked over the last hurdle before crossing the finish line. Tisdall also came in eighth place in the decathlon. After his victory, he attended a celebratory dinner and shared a table with pilot Amelia Earhart and actor Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

His remaining years were spent growing coffee in Tanzania and raising cattle in Australia. Tisdall also ran a gymnasium in South Africa, which he converted into a nightclub in the evenings. He was 93 years old when he ran in the 2000 Olympic torch relay in Sydney.

Posted on August 1, 2004 05:09 AM

Extract ID: 4873

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Extract Author: Weeshie Fogary
Extract Date: 3 August 2004

Weeshie's Week

Terrace Talk Ireland: An archive of articles written by Terrace Talk Presenter Weeshie Fogary. Each week these articles appear in the Kingdom Newspaper.

The death at his home in Australia last Wednesday July 28th of Bob Tisdall in his 96th year may have gone unnoticed by most sports followers, however we must record that his passing has brought to an end one of the most triumphant and extraordinary eras of Irish sporting success.

A member of the four man Irish Olympic team which competed in Los Angeles in 1932 Bob had the unique record of winning a gold medal in the 400 metres hurdles in a world and Olympic record time of 51.67 seconds, however due to the strange rules in operation at that time he was not credited with those record times as he had knocked the last hurdle on his surge to the tape and into history's pages.

Those August games of "32 in the Los Angeles Coliseum witnessed what was probably the most memorable achievements ever of any group of Irish athletes and a Kerryman was right there in the midst of it all, Dr. Pat O'Callaghan the man from Kanturk won gold in the hammer event and of course our own Eamon Fitzgerald of whom you have compressively read about in this column came fourth in the triple jump, Eamom was also the holder of two senior All Ireland football medals with Kerry.

The final and in my opinion sadly forgotten member of that 1932 team was Michael "Sonny" Murphy from Kinaboy Co Clare who participated in the steeplechase, however the searing Los Angeles heat got the better of the brave Clareman and he collapsed due to heatstroke, he never really recovered from that terrible experience.

Four years later on St. Patrick's day 1936 "Sonny" Murphy died tragically as a very young man, he was buried in Deansgrange cemetery in Dublin where our own Olympian Eamon Fitzgerald is also laid to rest, Clare women Della Maddock re discovered "Sonny's" grave a few years ago, "there wasn't a stick or a stone marking it, it was a disgrace" she said.

And so on Easter Sunday five years ago the final member of that greatest ever Irish Olympic team was ultimately remembered when a headstone was erected at "Sonnys" grave, in attendance were Olympians Ronnie Delaney, Freid Tiedt, Eamon Coughlen, Brendan o Reilly, Harry Perry and many more friends and relations.

Bob Tisdall had an amazing career, in 1931 he became a national figure in England when he won four events in the annual Cambridge- Oxford athletics match, the hurdles, long jump, shot and 440 yards. Amazingly he had to be given two chances to qualify for the Olympics and he wrote a letter himself to General Eoin O'Duffy the man responsible at the time for entries, imploring him to see him in action. Tisdall failed to achieve the qualifying time in the first trial in Croke Park, O Duffy gave him a second chance and Tisdall qualified as he won the National 440 yards hurdles title at the Irish Championship again in Croke Park. The rest is history.

Then last September with the help of the Irish Olympic Council and Sean Hurley of Radio Kerry I interview by phone Bob Tisdall from his home in Queensland, Australia, he was about to celebrate his 96th birthday, and my interview with him was in conjunction with my Terrace Talk programme on Eamon Fitzgerald. He was then the oldest living Olympic Gold medal winner, in all probility and I believe I would correct, this was the very last radio interview given by the great man.

So for the sporting records hereunder is the transcript what is now a historic very brief glimpse of what life was like for one of Irelands greatest sons.

Q; Is it long since you were back in Ireland

A; O yes, away back in 1984, I was on my way to the Olympics and I stopped off in Ireland.

Q; Your memories of the 1932 Olympics in Los Angles.

A; O yes, vivid memories, those things you never forget, we had a wonderful time really, it was the first time they built a village for the athletes, Pat o Callaghan and I shared a hut. Douglas Fairbanks he was a big shot in Hollywood came and had a chat with us.

Q; What were your memories of winning your gold medal.

A; I did write about it one time, and the more I talk about it the more I forget it.

Q; There were just four athletes on that Irish team which included Eamon.

A; Eamon was older than what we were as far as I can remember, a tall lanky fellow, very good company, I wouldn't say he was jovial but he had a since of humour, he wouldn't go out of his way to make you laugh, he got injured on his way out, that's right.

Q; And Dr. Pat O'Callaghan won his second gold medal.

A; Yes, it was a great moment for Irish sport, Pat o Callaghan and \I were competing at the same time, he was throwing the hammer when I was running on the track, when I had won my gold medal I went straight across to see Pat competing, I don?t know if you have heard this story. I asked how was he doing and he replied, ? I can?t get in the revolutions in the circle with the hammer because the spikes on my shoes are too long, I just got a file from someone, would you help me file down my spikes.? So from the finish of my race I sat there filing down Pat's spikes, everyone was wondering what was going on, it was really amusing and he got up and won the gold medal.

Q; Your memories of Eamon, did you know that he had won All Ireland football medals with Kerry.

A; I'm not certain about that, no.

Q; Were you aware that he was a Kerry man.

A; O yes.

Q; Have you any friends in Kerry.

A; No, it's too long ago. I've lost touch with everyone, but I do remember the great Casey brothers of Sneem, all dead now I think, I?ve got a cousin down in Bantry, he lives in Glengarriffe, I write to him occasionally and sadly that?s the only contact I have with Ireland now.

Q; Did winning gold medal change your life in anyway.

A; No, it didn't actually.

Q; How do you like living in Australia.

A; It's a lovely country I've got a nice place here, I used to grow ginger but the market collapsed so I?m just living here retired on a pension now., I do a lot of gardening, I grow all the family veg. It helps to keep me fit.

Q; Do you me asking what age you are now. (This was Oct. 03.)

A; I'll be 96 on Friday.

Q; Do you think the likes of Eamon Fitzgerald is forgotten Bob.

A; No he hasn?t. It?s along way back and you can't expect everyone to remember him

Q; What does it mean to represent your country in the Olympics.

A; Terrific, your country is your team, and the team spirit there is colossal of course, the Olympic games will always be like that and they bring the world together.

Q; What would you say to the people of Kerry that are listening to this programme about Eamon Fitzgerald, how should he be remembered.

A; Well I can only say he was one of the nicest people I have met and sorry I didn?t know more about him but it's so long ago.

Q; How many in family have you.

A: I've got two sons and a daughter and another daughter in Africa from my first marriage, and I have three grand daughters, there?s 40 years between the youngest and oldest.

Q; What county did you come from.

A; My family has been in Ireland for over 400 years, Bantry my father came from and I was born in Ceylon, I was brought up in Ireland and had my first job when I was 19 running a passenger boat on the Shannon.

Q; Have you any idea how many Irish titles you won.

A; I ran in the Irish Championships once and won the hurdles.

Q; What happened after Los Angles, did your career go on for long more.

A; O yes, I moved to South Africa and was president of the Athletic Association there and in Johnsonburg I organised four different teams along the gold reef and every other we had a championship, I ran a lot myself and took part in four events a day.

W; Thank you Bob for talking to us here in Ireland.

B; Thank you for remembering me and God bless you.

Bob Tisdalls passing marks the end of one of the most remarkable era?s in Irish sport and sadly now all that magnificent four man Olympic Irish team of 1932 are gone to their eternal reward.

Extract ID: 4876

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Extract Author: Finbarr Slattery
Extract Date: August 12, 2004

The great Bob Tisdall blazed a captivating trail

The Kingdom (Killarney, Ireland)

ONLY three Irish persons have won gold medals in track and field events in the Olympic Games - Bob Tisdall, Pat O’Callaghan and Ronnie Delaney. Of those three, the one who fascinated me most was Bob Tisdall because I was ignorant of his feats as an athlete.

I had to wait to read his obituaries in the papers, following his recent death in Brisbane, Australia, at the age of 97, to find out what sort of person Bob Tisdall really was.

His ability at athletics secured him gold in the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. One thing I learned straight away was that he defied all logic to secure his gold medal - he had that extra special something that enabled him to get that all too elusive prize.

It is well worth recalling in detail how he got to LA in the first instance and here is how he made it:

Robert Morton Newburgh Tisdall was born in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, in 1907, to parents intensely proud of their Irish origins. His father, William, hailed from Bantry and his mother, Meta Morton, grew up in Nenagh. Appropriately, it was in Nenagh, and later Dromineer, that the young Robert spent his formative years.

Not until he arrived at Cambridge University did he have the opportunity of indulging his passion for sport, and college records show that in the annual ‘colours’ match with Oxford in 1931 he won four events, the 440 yards, 120 yards hurdles, shot-putt and long jump competitions.

The winning figures in each instance were, however, far from inspiring. And outside intervarsity sport he remained largely unknown here until early 1932 when he wrote to General Eoin O’Duffy, president of the Irish Olympic Council, requesting that he be selected for the Irish team going to the Los Angeles Games.

O’Duffy later recalled that he was both astounded and impressed by the “cheek” of the young graduate, more so since Tisdall indicated that he wished to compete in the 400 metres hurdles, an event in which, on his own admission, he had competed just once.

O’Duffy responded by inviting him to participate in a trial race in Dublin and Tisdall’s reaction to that show of faith was no less brave. Although recently married, he promptly resigned his job in London and took himself off to an orchard in Sussex where, in a disused railway carriage, he worked on honing his body for the biggest test of his career.

Without even the semblance of a track, he trained on home-made hurdles. O’Duffy decreed that he would have to run the trial in Croke Park in 55 seconds or less, the time recorded by the American Johnny Gibson in the Tailteann Games at the same venue four years earlier, and arranged for Andy Nolan, a member of the Garda club, to run against him.

The best Tisdall could do on the day was 56.2 seconds, and he left the stadium deeply disillusioned. But O’Duffy’s admiration for the sheer effrontery of the man persisted, and he arranged for another trial to be held in conjunction with the Irish championships.

Tisdall once more retired to his railway carriage, and his efforts paid off. With Nolan again in opposition, he raced around Croke Park in 54.2 seconds, and suddenly Los Angeles beckoned. He set off with the Irish team on July 3 for the 14-day land and sea journey to California, arriving at the Olympic village in the Baldwin Hills overlooking Los Angeles in a state of nearexhaustion.

The remaining 14 days of his preparation for the Olympic Games were odd - and distinctly worrying for General O’Duffy.

He spent most of his time in bed and, when he was not sleeping or resting in his room, he was invariably stretched out in the sun.

Now, when the die was cast in earnest and he had to perform, he mesmerised them all winning his first heat in 54.8 seconds and two hours later won the second semi-final in 52.8 seconds. In the final Bob Tisdall rose to the first of the 10 hurdles in the lead and was never headed. He was so far ahead jumping the last that he couldn’t believe what was happening.

“I experienced a strange sense of loneliness” he recorded afterwards, “I began to wonder if the others had fallen over”.

This probably caused a lapse in his concentration and caused Tisdall to knock the last hurdle and miss out on a record - at that time knocking a hurdle precluded him from claiming a world record.

He had done enough to join the immortality stakes and, now 70 years later, we are basking in his glory. Thanks Bob Tisdall for blazing a trail that still captivates us all.

Extract ID: 4875
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