Rudolph Lewis en Suid-Afrika se grootste Olimpiese oorwinning: nuwe feite

  • Floris JG van der Merwe Departement Sportwetenskap, Universiteit Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, Republiek van Suid-Afrika
Keywords: Rudolph Lewis, 1912 Olympic Games, Stockholm, Cycling, South Africa


South Africa's biggest achievement at the Olympic Games was in 1912 when Rudolph Lewis won the 320 km cycle road race in Stockholm. This was the only cycle event at these Games and he was the only South African among the 123 riders from 16 countries. His winning time of 10:42:39.0 under shocking conditions bettered the Swedish record by 39:48:00. This article uncovers new information regarding his private life that has been unknown for 93 years. He had beaten the top South African rider of his day, W.R. Smith, in the Olympic trials by being the only rider from a field of 53 to finish a gruelling race over 150 miles in wet conditions. He was born on a farm in the Waterberg district (near Pretoria) but grew up in Germiston. In his youth he was also a good boxer and skater. He worked underground in a gold mine for the nine years preceding the 1912 Olympic Games. In 1913 he joined the professional road racing circuit in Germany, albeit with mixed success. He returned there for the 1914 season and was caught up in the First World War. He apparently served in the German army and was awarded the Iron Cross. The war and life of a prisoner of war left him in a weakened state. He died in 1933 at the relatively young age of 46.

South African Journal for Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation Vol. 28(2) 2006: 133-145

Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 0379-9069