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22 February 2012, 11:03 am
Retracing Roots - Antwerp 1920 Olympic Sailing Competition
Antwerp 1920 Olympic Games Poster
Antwerp 1920 Olympic Games Poster

Olympic Sailing Competition
Antwerp, Sweden

Antwerp, Belgium was selected to host the 1920 Olympiad in April 1919. Post War Belgium managed to demonstrate the Olympic spirit by gathering enough resources in a limited amount of time to host the games.

The 1916 Olympic Games were scheduled to be held in Berlin, with sailing in Kiel, but were cancelled due to World War I.

Only 14 nations took in all competition, not surprising given the human and economic ravages of the war. And just six nations took part in the sailing competition, with the Netherlands the only new nation to compete in the sailing, which was held in Ostende.

In keeping with the unusual circumstances, the yachting regatta featured no fewer than 14 classes. Four of them were doubled up with the 6-, 8-, 10-and 12-metres classes each racing in Old Rule and New Rule formulae.

Easy MedalsNo ALT tag specified

Seven classes had one solitary entry which resulted in some of the easiest earned gold medals in Olympic History. The helmsman of the first team received a vermeil medal and bronze statuette whilst the remaining members of the team just got the medal.

Quite A Gap

The age gap between the oldest and youngest sailor in 1920 was 39 years. Johan Mohr Friele was on 29 November 1866 and come games time he was 53-years-old. Franciscus Joseph Hin (NED), born on 29 January 1906, was just 14 when he sailed at the Olympic Games.

Both sailors won Olympic gold in 1920, Friele skippered Heira II to 12metre (1919 rating) to Olympic gold with King Harald V of Norway part of the nine strong crew.

And Hin sailed with his older brother Johannes Joseph Antonius Hin to claim the 12-foot dinghies gold medal on board Beatriss III.

Hin was not the youngest sailor to compete at an Olympic Sailing Competition, the holder of that will be published in the upcoming Retracing Roots.

First Multiple Olympic Sailing MedallistNo ALT tag specified

Belgium's Leon Huybrechts (pictured right) became the first Olympic sailor to win medals at two Olympic Games. The Belgian had a long time to wait though after his first medal, which was silver, came in the 6metre class at the London 1908 Olympics.

He won silver with Charles van den Bussche and John Klotz, again in the six metre, with a Norwegian crew skippered by Andreas Bang Brecke taking gold.

Full results and a Medal Table from 1920 can be viewed online here.

The Future

Despite Amsterdam's interest in hosting the 1924 Olympic Games, Pierre de Courbertin returned to Paris with the intention of putting the IOC's stamp on the Games, unlike in 1900 where the French added events unilaterally. Individual sport's international federations assumed responsibility for organising their competitions for the first time too.

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