This film is part of Free

Champion Athletes at Birmingham (1902)

Crowds enjoying the spectacle at Birmingham Athletics Club.

Non-Fiction 1902 12 mins Silent


Amateur athletics was hugely popular in the Edwardian era, but sadly only three films of athletics meetings survive in the Mitchell & Kenyon collection. This film is densely packed, with fine coverage of track and field events, presentations and crowds, and vignettes of the champions. Plus there's an early screen heartthrob in American sprinter Arthur Duffey, who teasingly blows a kiss to camera.

Duffey's fellow American Samuel Jones, the champion high-jumper, is also singled out by the filmmakers. These shots reflect the extent of American domination of athletics at the time. Duffey - the Usain Bolt of his day - had been the hot favourite for the 1900 Paris Olympics, but injury denied him victory in the 100 yards final. Look out for the on-screen advert for the New Century Pictures cinematograph exhibition at Birmingham's Curzon Hall, where this title was shown, alongside a range of other films including Lord Kitchener's Return. The Birmingham Daily Mail review delighted at the "capital animated pictures of the Birmingham Athletic Club Sports on Saturday."