Another 24 hours, another Olympic record

Reporter: by Janice Barker
Date published: 20 August 2008

Cyclist Chris Hoy has equalled the century-old three gold medals of Chadderton swimmer Henry Taylor.

Hoy, from Chorley, won the men’s sprint final yesterday to add to golds for the team sprint and Keirin, at the Beijing Olympics.

It’s the first time in 100 years that a British competitor has won three golds in the same discipline at the event.

In 1908, miner’s son Henry Taylor, from Hollinwood, also won three golds, but his sport was swimming.

But there was no sharkskin-style full body suit, tested at NASA for its drag properties, for the Edwardian Olympian.

Taylor, who died at his home in Brierley Street, Chadderton in 1951, competed in a hand-sewn silk costume, with a modesty slip underneath, watched by his brother Bill who was also his trainer, and towel carrier.

Chadderton Swimming Club life member Bernard Edge still owns one of Taylor’s suits, so fine it is almost see-through, weighing around an ounce and patched with darns.

Mr Edge added: “Swimmers used a thong-style handkerchief underneath, knotted at the hip, for modesty.

“I don’t know whether this costume is the one Henry wore for the Olympics, but it is a prized part of the Chadderton Swimming Club collection.”

Henry Taylor, who was 5ft 5ins and weighed 10 stone 6lbs at the age of 23 in 1908, won eight Olympic medals in total at four games.

But his 1908 achievements set the bar for British competitors for a century. He won the 400m freestyle race in five minutes, 36.8 seconds.

In contrast, Britain’s Rebecca Adlington, who won two golds in Beijing in the pool, took the women’s 400m freestyle title in 4.40.84.

Henry Taylor also won the 1,500m in 22.48.4. This year it was won by Tunisian Oussama Mellouli who swam the distance exactly eight minutes faster.

And Taylor’s third medal was for the 4x200m relay, which the team finished in 10.55.6.

In 2008, the US relay winners, including 11-time gold medalist Michael Phelps, covered the distance in 6.58.56.

Taylor won his last medal, a bronze in the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium, and became an attendant at Chadderton Baths.

He was cremated at Rochdale Cemetery and his ashes were scattered on the lawns at the Garden of Remembrance.

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