Two days out of the start of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, the swimming community takes a moment of silence for a legendary Scottish swimmer lost earlier this year.
Elenor Gordon passed away on July 5th, from natural causes, at the age of 80. Gordon had been scheduled to present medals at this week’s Commonwealth Games, and missed the opportunity to see the first-ever Commonwealth Games in her home town of Glasgow.
Gordon is recognized as one of the true greats in Scottish Commonwealth history – she was the first Scottish woman to ever win a Commonwealth Games gold medal when she took the 220 yard breaststroke title in Auckland, New Zealand in 1950. She would repeat that feat in 1954 in the same event in Vancouver, Canada, where she also led Scotland to the 3×110 yard medley relay title.
One of Gordon’s last interviews was given in February to Scotland’s Herald. There, she told stories from 1950 that still resonated 60 years later. Speaking to the pioneering nature of the sport, she talked about how the massive journeys that athletes had to undertake in the 1950’s made it feel like today’s swimmers don’t appreciate their medals as much.
Among the stories she shared, from the Herald:
Gordon described the six-week voyage on the Tamaroa, competitors jogging 20 times a day round the deck. “We punched a speed ball and swam in a wee wooden-framed canvas tank shared with dozens of English and Welsh competitors. “It wasn’t even the size of my living room, just a four or five strokes, and you were at the end. But my turns were brilliant by the time we reached New Zealand. Food was still rationed and before we left we had to hand in our coupons books, so my family wouldn’t have extra food.”
It will now be up to Team Scotland to write stories of their own and to carry on the legacy of Ms. Gordon in her city in front of her people, and most of all to show that they appreciate the successes that they’ve earned, and the journeys they took to get there.