The experiences of a London Olympics competitor, 86

A MAN from Comet country took part in the 1948 London Olympic Games, and has the medal to prove it.

Richard ‘Dickie’ Zimmern played for Great Britain in a 5-5 lacrosse demonstration match against Renssalaer, USA at the old Wembley Stadium, nearly 64 years ago.

The 86-year-old from St Ippolytts still has his medal, and was one of the best in his field when he competed.

“My son found the medal and wanted to know what it was for,” said Mr Zimmern’s wife of 50 years, Carol.

“He was very big in the lacrosse world. He was a great sportsman, always interested in sport and he did a lot for young lacrosse players.”

Mr Zimmern grew up in Manchester, and went to university in Cambridge, where his talent saw people sit up and take note.

It was also while here that he introduced helmets and protective gear for Oxford players, which caught on nationally.

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“He was at Cambridge University and captained them. He also took a joint Oxford and Cambridge university team to the USA,” said Mrs Zimmern.

“He was terribly famous.”

Mr Zimmern played at the Old Wembley on the same date quadruple Olympic Gold medallist Fanny Blankers-Koen appeared there.

The Dutch runner, who was 30 at the time, captured the imagination of those up and down the country, as well as across the world.

“At the time, she was as famous as the sprinter Usain Bolt,” recalled Mrs Zimmern, who was 11 at the time.

“The stadium was packed for the lacrosse match, absolutely full, because she was running that same day.”

On how Mr Zimmern described the experience, she added: “I think it was a huge honour, and very exciting.”

Although it was more than a decade afterwards when the couple met, they did not realise that they were both at the same closing ceremony.

“He was at the closing ceremony and I just happened to be there too,” said Mrs Zimmern

“It wasn’t until many years late that we discovered this.”

? Did you or someone you know compete in a former Olympic games? Contact the Comet newsdesk on 01438 866200 or email editorial@thecomet.net