My father, Owen Jones (centre) taking part in the Rochester 5 in 1981. Why was this a great era for sport? See below...
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A Personal Note (Archive)
August 22, 2015
The World Athletics championships have had me reminiscing about my own less than legendary athletic efforts. On the scale of world events, and on a personal scale, athletics really started to get serious in 1980. After a poor performance for British athletes at the 1976 Olympics when there was little coordination in financial support, 1980 saw £160,000 allocated to the British team. Winning medals was a matter of national prestige. While Sebastian Coe was winning gold at the 1980 Olympics, a young Martin Jones was joining in with the rise of athletics as an activity where simply taking part was the main aim. By the early 1980s running had become a popular pastime. My father and I took part in one of the earliest mass running events, the Sunday Times National Fun Run, Hyde Park, in 1981, involving 27,000 people. That same year the first London Marathon was held, with 20,000 competitors. 1981 also saw the first Great North Run, the world's biggest half marathon. For the vast majority - me included - these events were more fun than competitive. Running along in the Dartford Half Marathon in the early 1980s, I heard a large man say to his equally ungainly running companion: "You know there are guys up the front breaking their heart because they are third!"
The word "sport" derives from Middle English and French words, desport and disport, which refer to pleasant pastimes. The word athletics, however, derives from a Greek verb athlein, meaning to compete for a prize. Perhaps it was an equal and opposite reaction that gave sport a boost at a time when athletics was getting so serious.
Historical news for September
A major new exhibition exploring the history of pop art opens this month at the Tate in London. The exhibition opens on 17th September 2015.
The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace open every summer for general visiting. This year's dates are July 25th - September 27th. For more information go to https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/exhibitions/a-royal-welcome
At Windsor Castle there are summer tours of the Round Tower, not usually open to visitors. Tours run 1st August - 30th September 2015. For more information go to https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/event/conquer-the-tower-tour-2015
Anniversaries for September
4th September 1666: The Great Fire of London is at its height. Diarist Samuel Pepys sees the fire in Tower Street, "the fire coming on in that narrow streete, on both sides with infinite fury". He then decides to dig a pit in his garden in which to save his wine and parmesan cheese.
5th September 1977: NASA launches Voyager 1, which after a journey past Jupiter and Saturn is now in intersteller space, beyond the solar system. Voyager 1 carries an audio visual record, with greetings in 55 different languages, sounds of Earth - which include waves breaking and babies crying - and a collection of music ranging from Chuck Berry and Willie Nelson to Mozart.
8th September 1944: London is first hit by a V2 rocket, the world's first guided ballistic missile. The missile lands in Chiswick. During the rest of the war 1402 V2 missiles will land on London.
10th September 2008: The Large Hadron Collidor, the world's largest and most powerful particle accelerator, powers up for the first time beneath the French Swiss border near Geneva.
14th September 1812: On the day that Napoleon's troops enter Moscow, a fire breaks out which will destroy three quarters of the city.
27th September 1825: A steam engine called Active, pulls the first passenger train on the Stockton and Darlington Railway, the world's first steam passenger railway. Active, now called Locomotion 1 is now kept at the Darlington Railway Centre and Museum.
27th September 1981: One of the world's first mass running events takes place in London's Hyde park, when 27,000 people take part in the Sunday Times National Fun Run.
30th Sepember 1965: The first episode of the Thunderbirds television series, Trapped in the Sky, is shown on British television. The story involves a a bomb placed in the landing gear of a new airliner called Fireflash, which will explode when the aircraft lands.
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Thank you to photo contributors Danielle Davis, Jean Edwards, Vicky Eagle of Portsmouth Dockyard, Kevin Edwards, Derick Fusco, Julian Jones, Richard Jones, Jackie Lewis, Debbie Lowless, Judy Mills of the Corinium Museum, Jane Barron of the World Rugby Museum, and Susan Stuart of Old Spitalfields Market.