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David is last to have won gold at home

By West Briton  |  Posted: April 19, 2012

  • Now: David Bond proudly shows off the gold medal he won as one half of the Swallow class sailing team.

  • Then: sailor David Bond.

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WINNING an Olympic gold medal is a rare occurrence, especially an Olympic gold medal in front of your own nation – particularly if you are British.

There is only one Brit alive today who has won an Olympic gold medal on British shores and he's from Falmouth.

His name is David Bond, who is now 90 years old, and splits his time these days between living in Spain and Cornwall.

Part of the 1948 London Olympics, David was one half of Swallow class sailing team that won gold 64 years ago.

He still has his gold medal and he remains blessed with a mind that can reminiscence pretty much his entire time as a gold medal winning Olympian.

"I am the only gold-medallist left from 1948," he says. "Amazing, isn't it?" David was born and brought up in Falmouth by his father who was also a sailing enthusiast but unfortunately died of cancer in 1940, eight years before his son won an Olympic gold medal.

David, also known as 'dinghy', forged an unbeatable sailing partnership with Stewart Morris of Norfolk to win in 1948.

Now it is time for Bond to watch on as many more British athletes win gold medals this summer. Today's Olympics are a far cry from the Olympics Bond encountered in 1948 as he recalls.

He said: "There was very little atmosphere in anticipation of the Olympics in 1948 but it was a very different time then.

"There were a number of battleships manning the harbour and the Olympics were such a under reported local story that holidaymakers on the seaside were heard to ask: "Who are all these young people from different countries and why are they here?"

The atmosphere couldn't be any more different in the build-up to this summer's Olympics. Bond remembers how in 1948 he didn't even know he was going to take part until March 1948, less than three months before the start of the Games.

He said: "The participants are now professionals – they work full-time on improving their sport whereas in 1948 participants were amateurs. You practised your sport after work and at weekends and you funded yourself. There wasn't any sponsorship.

"I took unpaid leave from my job in the aircraft industry to take part in the games and my employers weren't the slightest bit interested in why I wanted the leave. The second difference was the lack of media in 1948. There wasn't internet, TV, a wide range of newspapers or any of the multimedia sources there are today. So people weren't really aware of the Games.

"I didn't even know I was taking part until March 1948! So it was a very different approach then, although equally competitive."

With that in mind it is hard to comprehend the difference between now and 1948 as Britain gears up for the biggest sporting event in the world.

Bond had no media attention, and he wasn't pestered by press or sponsors, it was just a matter of sailing and doing his nation proud.

He said: "There was no media interest worth talking about. In 1948 the Daily Telegraph gave half a page a day or less to the sailing at Torquay – it was the only paper to do anything at all."

With sailing a major medal winning opportunity for team GB this summer, what better man to gauge opinion from than the last sailor to win gold for GB in Britain.

David said: "In 1948 Stewart Morris and I won the only sailing gold and subsequently it was either 1968 or 1972 before the next one was won.

"In the 1980s the Government subsidised sailing and the team members were paid £25,000 per year or so for each member and then things perked up, and of course Ben Ainslie helped quite a bit."

David, an almost forgotten member of British Olympic history, will be watching this summer.

But any British gold medallist this year will be getting their fair share of column inches in the following day's newspapers.

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