Stevenage Gold Olympian runner remembered

PUBLISHED: 17:00 04 August 2012

Hampson winning the 800m race in 1932

Hampson winning the 800m race in 1932

Archant

AN OLYMPIAN who won “the most sensational race of all time” before going on to become a key figure in the early days of Stevenage new town is being celebrated as the Olympic spirit grabs the nation.

Stevenage new town is being celebrated as the Olympic spirit grabs the nation.

In 1932, Tom Hampson, an Oxford educated school teacher wearing thick glasses took on the best 800m runners in the world at a scorchingly hot Los Angeles Olympics – and won. He also competed in the 400m relay, winning a silver medal.

Born in Clapham in 1907, Mr Hampson moved to Stevenage in 1954 where he took up the position of Social Relations Officer in the first town council – the Stevenage Development Corporation alongside his wife Winnie.

He was buried in 1965 in St Mary’s church in Shephall where he was a warden, with an unassuming headstone bearing the gold entwined Olympic rings.

Hampson Park in the town was named in his memory by the local authority.

A newspaper report of his gold winning race said: “Los Angeles 2nd August 1932. 130 degrees in the sun. The last bend in the 800 metres Olympics final and the bespectacled English schoolmaster is running third to two Canadians. With electrifying acceleration he passes Edwards and for 40 yards runs neck and neck with Wilson. Only 20 yards to go, another superhuman effort and Hampson wins the most sensational race of all time.”

Tom Hampson forms part of an Olympic exhibition on show at Stevenage Museum.

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