Duelling as an Olympic sport

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Duelling at the 1908 Games

The 1908 Olympic Games were held in London, beginning on the 27th of April. While medals were awarded for many sports, some were labelled “associate sports” and were for display only.

Duelling was one of these. Historically, duels were fought between two people (usually men) to defend their honour, and frequently resulted in grave injury or death.

At the Olympics the bullets were made of wax, and the contestants wore protective outfits.

The Games were supposed to have been held in Rome, but were moved after a devastating Mount Vesuvius eruption.

Unlike today, the event ran for months, from April to their conclusion on the 31st of October.

On this day: the birth of a British Olympian

walter-tysall-british-gymnast-in-the-1908-summer-olympics-born-in-birmingham-and-died-in-ashton-on-ribble-1908-he-won-the-silver-medal-in-the-individual-all-around

Walter Tysall X

British Olympic gymnast Walter Tysall was born in Birmingham on the 3rd of April, 1880.

At the age of twenty-eight Tysall competed in the individual all around competition at the 1908 London Olympic Games. He won the silver medal, with Italian Alberto Braglia winning gold and French gymnast Louis Ségura taking bronze.

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Italian gold medallist Alberto Braglia

Though the British women’s gymnasts would go on to reach the Olympic podium a few years later, Tysall’s silver was the only medal won by a British male gymnast until 2008.

Tysall died in Ashton-on-Ribble in 1955.

On this day: the assassination of Durham Stevens

DurhamWhiteStevensAmerican diplomat Durham Stevens was attacked by Korean independence activists Jang In-hwan and Jeon Myeong-un on the 23rd of March, 1908. He died two days later. 1903 Photograp.

Durham Stevens in 1903 X

American diplomat Durham Stevens was attacked by Korean independence activists Jang In-hwan and Jeon Myeong-un on the 23rd of March, 1908. He died two days later.

A picture of Jang In-hwan, assassin of Durham Stevens, taken while the subject was living in the United States. 1907A picture of Jeon Myeong-un, assassin of Durham Stevens, taken while the subject was living in the United States. 1907.

Jang In-hwan and Jeon Myeong-un, both photographed in 1907.

Both Korean men had moved to the United States, and the attack took place at the Fairmont San Francisco.

Stevens, who had been employed by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, had spoken out in favour of Japanese influence in Korea, and Japan’s annexation of the Korean peninsula.

1907 view of the Fairmont Hotel from Powell Street San Francisco

The Fairmont San Francisco in 1907 X

Japan’s annexation and occupation of Korea was complete two years after Stevens’ death.

Stevens is remembered by Koreans as a traitor to their sovereignty, though at the time of his assassination many spoke out in his favour.

On this day: the Queensboro Bridge opened in 1909

Blackwell's Island Bridge, ca. 1907.

Construction of the upper level in 1907

The Queensboro Bridge, linking Manhattan to Long Island City, opened to the public on the 30th of March, 1909.

Proposals for a bridge spanning this area had been made from 1838, but the first successful plans didn’t emerge until 1903.

The Queensboro Bridge, linking Manhattan to Long Island City, circa 1908

Circa 1908

Various delays meant the bridge took longer to construct than expected.

Construction of the bridge cost fifty lives and eighteen million dollars.