'To win a gold medal is to join an exclusive club': With the Barcelona Olympics less than a week away, Paul Trow spoke to 11 British gold medallists, one from each of the Games to be held since the Second World War, about their glorious memories

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1948

RICHARD BURNELL

Double sculls, rowing

Richard Burnell, now 75, and Bertram Bushnell won one of Britain's three gold medals at the London Olympics. Their winning time of 6min 51.3sec gave them victory by four seconds over Denmark.

APART from my victory, my overwhelming memory is of the power of great joy we all felt that we had survived the war and that everything looked fairly rosy. Also, I had a feeling of pride and pleasure that Britain was taking the lead and hosting the first post-war Games, even though we had already had regattas the previous year.

The rowing events were staged at Henley and I was based there throughout. We still had rationing in , but the Americans sent lots of food over and the local people at Henley were also very generous. However, our diets were quite different. We ate much less than oarsmen in training do today, concentrating mainly on meats and salads with hardly any carbohydrates. We trained by ourselves - there was no national squad or coach as there is today.

1952

HARRY LLEWELLYN

Show jumping team

Sir Harry Llewellyn, who is nearly 81, and his mount, Foxhunter, teamed up with Douglas Stewart and Wilfred White to win Britain's only gold medal in Helsinki. I REMEMBER the tremendous fuss people made about us because we won the only British gold medal of the Games. It also put show jumping and the other equestrian disciplines on the British sporting map. Certainly, the most important thing at the time was that we won for the sake of the team because it would have been dreadful if Britain had not won any golds at all.

For me, the Olympics were the greatest event of them all, being part of one team which included athletes, swimmers and other competitors. I remember the Helsinki Olympics as the Friendly Games because they were the first opportunity that all the countries had after the war to get together.

1956

DICK McTAGGART

Lightweight boxing

Dick McTaggart, now 56, was one of two British boxing gold medallists in Melbourne, beating Germany's Harry Kurschat on the last night of the Games.

IT WAS almost like boxing at home because many Scots and British people were there. Not only that, but I had some relatives living in Melbourne at the time and they turned out to support me.

I didn't win my gold until right at the end, so I didn't have much time to celebrate. But I was out there for about a month in all, arriving a week before the start and leaving a week after the end. I feel sorry for the competitors nowadays, they seem to leave only a day or so after finishing their event.

Even though it was the year of Suez and Hungary, the games were very friendly, certainly among the competitors. Politics seemed to be kept out of it then - it's quite different now.

1960

ANITA LONSBROUGH

Women's 200m breaststroke

Anita Lonsbrough, now 51, swam a world-record 2min 49.5sec while winning the first of Britain's two golds in Rome. Her victory margin over Germany's Wiltrud Urselmann was half a second.

I REMEMBER the lovely sunny weather, but it was too hot to take part in the opening ceremony as my heat was on the first day of competition with the final the following evening. We went out early to become acclimatised and, because the swimming events were over fairly soon, we were back home before the athletics had even started. We were not allowed to stay for the rest of the Games because of a lack of money.

The swimming programme was about half the size it is today, but at least that gave us the chance to mix freely with competitors from other sports and countries even though the women's quarters were strictly separate.

Winning one of Britain's only two golds in Rome made a tremendous difference to my life. I couldn't go anywhere without being recognised. The big difference between the Olympics and other swimming championships is that all the sports are together. They have been going longer and you feel part of a big family.

1964

ANN PACKER

Women's 800m

Ann Packer, now 50, who had earlier won a 400m silver, came with a late burst to win one of Britain's most unexpected gold medals in Tokyo.

THE organisation, compared with other championships in which I had competed, was first-class, as you would expect from the Japanese. I particularly remember their attention to detail. For instance, they presented a cake with the correct number of candles on it to every competitor who had a birthday. They were very careful about ushering people off the track.

It was a very friendly atmosphere and we arrived as a team. We didn't have competitors jetting in from various parts of the world after the others, or staying in separate accommodation as sometimes happens now. We all shared rooms and stayed together. We were a real family. I remember there were colour television sets everywhere in Tokyo, long before they came over here. The roads were cluttered and noisy, but we always had a pool of communal bicycles available if ever we wanted to go into the city.

1968

DAVID HEMERY

Men's 400m hurdles

David Hemery, who was 48 yesterday, won Britain's only athletics gold in Mexico City in a world-record time of 48.12sec. His eight-yard victory margin over Gerhard Henninge, of Germany, was the largest in the event since 1924.

MY FIRST recollection is of the high altitude. Oxygen burns up much faster at altitude and athletes used to it, as were many of the Africans, have a great advantage over the rest. The altitude sabotaged the medal chances of many great distance runners, particularly Ron Clarke, the Australian who now blames having to have a heart by-pass operation on the damage it caused.

Another memory was the black- power salute by Tommie Smith and John Carlos after winning gold and bronze in the 200m. I had lived in the United States and I knew there was discrimination. They had a very valid point and, even though people said they shouldn't have used the Olympic medal rostrum, that was the only time in their lives they would have a political platform. It was done in a dignified way and was not a putdown to the Olympics only to American culture.

Then there was Bob Beamon's leap of over 29ft in the long jump. Lynn Davies ended up ninth because he knew he couldn't compete with it. He had set himself only one goal, to win, and had nothing to fall back on.

1972

MARY GORDON-WATSON

Three-day event team

Mary Gordon-Watson, now 44, and her mount, Cornishman, linked up with Richard Meade and Bridget Parker to win one of four British golds in Munich.

WINNING the team event was obviously the highlight of my life at the time. It was interesting being in the Olympic village alongside competitors from other sports. Every night there were the most marvellous ethnic parties with people in their native costumes.

The Games were overshadowed by the killing of nine members of the Israeli team by Arab terrorists, but we in the Olympic village knew very little about what was going on at the time. Apart from the tragedy, it was unfortunate because the Germans had set out to create a carefree, happy and colourul occasion. I am sure their security was good, but they were trying hard to erase the memories of the Berlin Olympics.

It was wonderful to be able to stay on, watch the rest of the Games and take part in the closing ceremony. I got quite carried away with it and found myself feeling very patriotic and enthusiastic about the performances of my team- mates whatever their sport.

1976

DANNY NIGHTINGALE

Modern pentathlon team

Danny Nightingale, now 38, teamed up with Adrian Parker and Jim Fox to win one of three British gold medals in Montreal. Their total of 15,559pts left them 108pts ahead of Czechoslovakia.

I WAS relatively young when I went to Montreal so I didn't have much international experience to compare it with though it did seem to be pretty well organised. From the moment the opening ceremony ended, we were into our competition and it was all over by the end of Day Five. After that it was one huge party for us.

One sad memory I have is of watching Mike Boit, the Kenyan runner who was favourite to win the 800m, training near our quarters and then, three days later, seeing him and other African athletes leaving the village because their governments had called a boycott. It was triggered off because New Zealand had played rugby against South Africa the year before. The New Zealand Olympic authorities said they had no control over their rugby players, but I felt had the feeling the African athletes were being used.

On the positive side, there was a tremendous spirit within the British team. When we went out for our final event, the cross-country run, we knew we were going to win a medal of some description, but we needed support so that we could keep our concentration. I remember Brian Jacks (judo) and other competitors taking the bottoms out of paper cups and using them as loud hailers to keep us at it throughout our run. We then stayed on and reciprocated for many of our team-mates.

1980

DUNCAN GOODHEW

Men's 100m breaststroke

Duncan Goodhew, now 35, was one of five British gold medallists in Moscow. His time of 1min 03.44sec saw him home 0.38sec ahead of Arsen Miskarov, of the USSR.

IT WAS a terrifically difficult time for the Olympic Games. After the boycotts of Montreal and the Munich tragedy, we had the Soviet invasion of Aghanistan and I think there were more political journalists than sports writers in Moscow. Consequently, for the competitors it was the most businesslike of all the Games. One went there only to compete. We didn't go sightseeing and left immediately our events were over, which in my case was pretty soon after the start of the Games. We didn't attend the opening or closing ceremonies and I particularly missed the national anthem and union jacks when I received my medal.

As competitors, we were under a lot of pressure, but one thing I found quite interesting was an interview I gave to Radio Moscow's English language service as captain of the British swimming team. The interviewer had not expected us to come to the Games because of our government's stance, and I took the opportunity to explain that in our free and democratic society that sort of choice was left to the individual. I didn't expect the interview ever to be broadcast, but a fellow competitor heard it on the air a couple of days later - suggesting to me that they weren't as heavily censored, even at that time, as we were led to believe. In some respects, the fact that we were allowed to go showed that ours was a freer country than America.

1984

MALCOLM COOPER

Men's small-bore rifle, 3 positions

Malcolm Cooper, now 45, won the first of Britain's five gold medals in Los Angeles, a title which he successfully defended in Seoul four years later. Cooper scored a world record 1,173pts to beat Switzerland's Daniel Nipkow by 10pts.

THE shooting events took place 60 miles west of Los Angeles, so immediately before and during competition we stayed at a nearby motel rather than risk being held up in the traffic. We went out about two weeks before the start. In shooting, you need a day of acclimatisation for every hour in time difference because jet lag plays havoc with your timing and balance. Los Angeles is eight hours behind us so I spent a lot of my first week sight-seeing.

Shooting is historically one of the first sports to get under way, but I would have missed the opening ceremony anyway because I felt it was going to turn into a spectacle for the world with the athletes treated like cattle as usual. In the Olympic village, I found the security overwhelming though some people have praised it because they felt safe. The security people were obviously under instructions to look out for trouble from within the village - it made my blood boil that the Americans should think it would come from people who had dedicated themselves to sport.

The other thing I didn't like was that as far as the organisers were concerned, the athletes were just pawns for them to make a lot of money with. We were treated as though we were children. Seoul followed LA's lead in making money, but they managed to balance the needs of public, television and athletes.

1988

MIKE McINTYRE

International Star class yachting

Mike McIntyre, now 36, and Bryn Vaile won one of Britain's five golds in Seoul after starting their last race in fourth place.

WE WERE based at Pusan, Korea's second largest city about 250 miles south-east of Seoul. I had competed at Los Angeles in 1984, but the Seoul Games had a much friendlier atmosphere. In LA there were aggressive undertones, not just from the crowds but also due to the television coverage.

We took part in the opening ceremony in Seoul where we were immediately made to feel part of a team effort. That was underlined when Adrian Moorhouse won his early gold medal and lifted the whole British team. After our event, we went back to Seoul for the final few days as spectators before taking part in the closing ceremony.

The Far East was very different to what we were used to. The food was appalling, everything being flavoured with garlic which was a bit much to take after being there for five weeks.

We were not expected to win a medal, so victory was a surprise. I had been tipped to do well in Los Angeles when I sailed on my own in the Finn class to no avail, so we deliberately played down our chances in 1988. The Olympics is unlike anything else I have ever competed in. It's not just yachting - it's an enormous worldwide event. Being a gold medallist is like belonging to an exclusive club.

(Photograph omitted)

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