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University of Westminster celebrates its history of previous Olympic Games held in London

20 July 2012

The exhibition highlights the role that the Regent Street Polytechnic, now the University of Westminster, held in organising the opening and closing ceremonies for the 1908 Games, the first ever of its kind to be hosted in London.

The University of Westminster has produced a fleet of Olympic athletes over the years who have competed for the University and its predecessors, including Olympians such as Arthur Wint, who ran for Jamaica and received a gold and silver; Johnny Wright, a medal weight boxer who won silver; David Ricketts, who achieved bronze as part of the British 4,000m pursuit team and Dame Mary Glen-Haig, who was the only British finalist in the women’s fencing in 1948. Alan Pascoe MBE, a member of the Polytechnic Harriers athletics club, won silver in the 4 x 400m relay at the 1972 Games in Munich and more recently, as Vice-Chairman to Lord Coe, he played a key role in the successful British bid to host this year’s Games.

On show will be information and pictures of the route for the 1908 marathon, which was organised by the Polytechnic Harriers and was the first to be run at the now standard distance of 26 miles and 385 yards, on a course designed by Jack Andrew, the official who measured the 1908 course. Members of the Polytechnic Harriers won medals for Great Britain at every Olympics between 1908 and 1952, with the exception of the 1936 Berlin Games.

The 1948 Olympics, the so-called austerity games, gave particular attention to the cycling pursuit team and David Ricketts, a Regent Street Polytechnic member who took home a bronze medal. Images will also be available of the Polytechnic Boxing Club which produced several Olympic champions such as Charlie Morris who won silver in the featherweights and Frank Parks who achieved bronze in the heavyweight category at the 1908 Games.

In 1900, women were allowed to compete in certain sports for the first time. Following this, the first Women’s only Olympiad was organised in Monaco in 1921 and a number of members from the Polytechnic’s Ladies Athletics Club participated in the landmark event. The exhibition includes a number of artefacts and photographs of the team at the event.

Geoff Petts, Vice Chancellor at the University of Westminster said: “The University of Westminster has a longstanding history of supporting the Olympic Games and this year is no exception. We look forward to once again being able to celebrate the achievements of our students and academia members of the University, many of who have had the chance to play an important part in the implementation of the Games in our home city. The exhibition provides a great opportunity for the University and the local community to view some unique artefacts and remember the role that London has played in so many Olympic Games.”

The exhibition is being held at the Old Cinema at the University’s headquarters at 309 Regent Street and will run until 10 September, 2012. Admission is free and is open to the public on Monday – Saturday, 10am - 6pm.

About the University of Westminster:

The University of Westminster boasts a vibrant learning environment attracting more than 20,000 students from over 150 nations and we continue to invest in our future with new developments, research projects and new ideas.

We offer highly attractive practice-based courses that are independently rated as excellent, many with international recognition. Our distinguished 180-year history has meant we lead the way in many areas of research, particularly politics, media, art and design, architecture and biomedical sciences, and our position in the city of London allows us to continue to build on our close connections with leading figures and organisations in these areas as well as in the worlds of business, information technology, politics and law.

Our commitment to educating graduates for the needs of professional life attracts high quality students from within the UK and around the globe.

Internationalisation, employability and sustainability are key elements in the University of Westminster’s vision for the future and we strive to ensure the very highest standards are met and maintained.

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