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Olympian Jack Braughton shares his memories of the 1948 games
A 91-YEAR-OLD former Bromley and Blackheath harrier who competed in the 1948 Olympics after travelling to Wembley by bus has spoken to News Shopper about his memories.
There are less than 100 days to go before the London Games kick off, but the last time the city hosted the event things were very different.
When 27-year-old builder, Jack Braughton, raced in the 5000m 64 years ago, London was still recovering from the Second World War.
Organisers were given just two years to prepare for the games, which were the first since the Nazi-organised Olympics of 1936.
Dubbed 'the austerity games', Britain was still coping with rationing, a housing shortage caused by bombing and no spare cash to build new sport venues or an Olympic village.
Many of the British athletes had no coach and were forced to beg their employers for time off to compete in events or attend the opening and closing ceremonies.
Mr Braughton, of Willersley Avenue, Sidcup, said: "My boss said 'if he wants to run then he does it in his own time'.
"But I was quite lucky because my event was on a Saturday so I only had to take half a day off work.
"I got the bus to the underground and then the tube out to Wembley. Then I just went in to register and did my race and went home. It was just another athletics meeting to me.
"My wife didn’t come to watch, she wasn’t really interested. And my mother was offered tickets by her local paper but she turned them down."
Coming eighth in his heat, Mr Braughton, who was one of the first Englishmen to run three miles under 14 minutes, was unhappy with his performance.
He said: "I wasn’t fit enough on the day so I was disappointed. "I wanted a coach but they couldn’t supply one.
"I would have liked to be able to train as hard as I could but work had to take first place.
"We didn’t really prepare ourselves for the Olympics. We were beaten by the teams who didn’t go to war."
The Bromley and Blackheath Harrier trained twice a week on a cinder track in Ladywell Fields, Lewisham, and raced at the weekend.
Mr Braughton has not yet decided whether he will attend the games this summer despite all members of the 1948 team being offered tickets to see their events.
He said: "It will bring back some memories but I’m a better competitor than a spectator. "I think I’d rather watch it on TV."
Mr Braughton, who says he was "born to run" has been winning trophies since the age of 14 and only stopped racing after winning the British Veteran Championships at the age of 70.
He said: "I still do a bit of jogging but these days I like to keep my running quietly to myself. "My garden backs onto the park so I can just run around there."
Still passionate about athletics, he helps maintain Norman Park in Hayes Lane, and coaches up-and-coming athletes at Bromley and Blackheath Harriers.