Olga Kevelos: Trials motorcyclist

Tuesday 01 December 2009 01:00

The motorcyclist Olga Kevelos, who died on 28 October at the age of 85, was a trials rider who was the only woman to win two gold medals in international six-day events.

Kevelos was born in Edgbaston, Birmingham to a Greek financier father and English mother on 6 November 1923. Working at the Royal Observatory when the Second World War broke out, she volunteered to work on the canals with "The Idle Women", the waterborne equivalent of the Land Girls – their badges bore the legend "IW", for "Inland Waterways" – and she spent the war on barges carrying vital supplies. The women were far from idle. "[It was] hard work, with no respite at all," she said later. "We worked an 18- to 20-hour day, and nobody ever stopped."

After the War, having taken motobike lessons from a boyfriend, she became a successful trials rider – "It started as a way to see my boyfriend at weekends at first, but I soon realised I enjoyed it and was quite good at it too," she said.

She began competing internationally, with the backing of almost every major British motorcycle manufacturer during the course of her career. She won two gold medals at the 1949 and 1953 international six-day trials and went on to ride with varying degrees of success in every Scottish six-day trial until she retired in 1970, and in every International Six-Day Trial until 1966.

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