THIS year’s Olympics has seen a record number of Scottish athletes head to London to compete for glory - 54 in all - but back in 1896, when the first modern Olympic Games were held, Athens saw a rather more modest turnout of Scots representing Great Britain.
Launceston Elliot, a Scottish weightlifter born in India, ventured to Greece on the SS Congo with a small band of British athletes to compete in the first ever modern-day iteration of the Olympic Games.
By virtue of being the first of the group to compete in the Games, Elliot became the first British Olympian when he entered the 100m heats. Elliot failed to make the final, but went on to try his luck in several other events, including the 14m rope climb and Greco-Roman wrestling.
But it was in the weightlifting event that Elliot best demonstrated his athleticism. Though Elliot narrowly lost to Dane Viggo Jensen in the two-handed lifting category, Elliot triumphed over his opponent in the single-handed lift, becoming the first Briton to win Olympic gold.
Elliot competed in the next Olympic Games in Paris in 1900, finishing 11th in the discus event - no weightlifting events were held that year.
Though Elliot himself spent most of his life outside Scotland (he spent his early childhood in Tasmania, Australia before moving to Essex) he belonged to a family of aristocrats with close ties to the Scottish Borders, and is recognised as the first Scot to ever compete at the Games.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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