The maiden champ!

The maiden champ!

America’s James Connolly  was the first champion of the modern Olympics. At the time of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 held in Athens, James Connolly was a 27-year-old undergraduate student at the famed Harvard University. Desperate to compete at the Olympic Games, he submitted a request for a leave of absence which, according to Harvard records, was denied. Connolly then requested an honourable withdrawal as a student, which was granted. 

His outing in the Olympic Games was not futile. On 6 April 1896, Connolly won the triple jump, which was then known as the “hop, skip, jump”. This made him the first Olympic champion in 1,527 years. He also placed second in the high jump and third in the long jump. But he couldn’t repeat the golden act in the next Olympic Games.  

At the 1900 Paris Games, Connolly lost the Olympic title to his compatriot Meyer Prinstein after a heated battle for the top spot. Four years later, he attended the 1904 Olympic Games as a journalist, perhaps the first instance when a former Olympian sat in the press box to cover the events. Connolly later became a well-known novelist and was offered an honorary doctorate by Harvard, which he turned down.

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