Olympic history contains many stories of champions overcoming adversity to achieve glory but few match those faced by Hampshire’s Tommy Green, before striking gold in one of the most gruelling Olympic events, the 50km walk.
Thomas William Green was born on 30 March 1894 to parents Flora and Tom. Life got off to a difficult start for Tommy, rickets leaving him unable to walk until he was five years old. On leaving school at 12 he worked as a butcher’s assistant before following in his father’s footsteps and joining the 20th Hussars. While serving in the First World War Green was sent home after a severe gas attack which damaged his lungs. After the war Tommy settled in Eastleigh, married Rose in 1924 and held a variety of jobs before being employed at the Eastleigh Railway Works.
Green first took up walking in 1926 at the age of 32, winnng the first race he entered. Following this surprise victory Tommy joined Belgrave Harriers Athletics Club and began to build up an impressive record in all the major road races both in this country and overseas. By far the greatest of Green’s many triumphs came in the 50 km walk at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. Affected by the hot Californian sun, Tommy trailed the leaders early on but recovered to win by over seven minutes. At 38 years and 126 days, he remains the oldest ever champion.
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