Race walking and the Olympic Games
Athletics at the 1912 Stockholm Summer Games:
Men's 10 kilometres Walk
The 10 kilometre walk appeared on the Olympic program for the first time in 1912, although it would be an Olympic event in 1912-1924, and 1948-52. The pre-Olympic favourites were both British - [George Larner] who had won both walks at the 1908 Olympics, and had won the AAA 7-mile walk in 1911, and [Ernie Webb] who had won the AAA 7-mile walk in 1908-1910, and was the silver medalist in both walks at the 1908 Olympics. The world best in 1912 was 45:43.5 set by [Paul Gunia] (GER) in Berlin on 24 October 1908. For unknown reasons, neither Larner nor Gunia competed and in their absence, Webb was expected to win easily.
But Webb could not match Canada's George Goulding, who had also competed at the 1908 Olympics. At London, Goulding had placed 4th in the 3,500 metre walk, did not finish in his heat of the 10 mile walk, and also ran the marathon, finishing 22nd. However, since 1908, Goulding had greatly improved and had beaten Webb at match races in Toronto in the summer of 1910. After winning the gold medal, Goulding's first act was to send a telegram to his wife. It read only, Won - George.
But Goulding spoke more of the final, as given in Henry Roxborough's Canada at the Olympics,in the final, I took the lead right from the start. When I was about 40 yards ahead of Webb, I thought the judges were after me. One of them said something in Swedish which I didn't understand; but when I turned toward him I saw a broad grin on his face and concluded he must have said something nice. Still, it was a ticklish moment, for the judges had the right to pull anyone off the track without previous warnings. With other judges, I could have improved my time; but during the last mile, when I had a lead of about 75 yards, I slowed considerably and took no chance of being disqualified. Besides, in the first heat, I had rubbed the skin off my toes, while wearing almost new shoes; and in the final my feet were really torturing. However, in winning, I soon forgot the pain and remembered only the pleasure.