HM Newsletter: 11 June
It was a cool and damp day in Amsterdam in the summer of 1928. The "Sold Out" signs were in full view at the ticket booths to the entrance of the Olympic Stadium and the packed crowd buzzed with excitement, having just witnessed an epic 10 000m race. Track marshals were hastily trying to repair the churned-up inside lane of the cinder track as the athletes of the Mens' 110m Hurdles Final were choosing lane lots and limbering-up. Amongst the athletes was George Weightman-Smith, an Hiltonian who had earlier set a world record in the heats. Fate played an evil hand and George drew the lot for the damaged and messy inside lane. Also in the race was fellow South African Syd Atkinson.
The gun cracked, the crowd roared and the athletes sprinted for the finish. It was clear that Weightman-Smith was labouring in the muddy conditions of the inside track as Atkinson flew over the last hurdle and breasted the tape to take gold. Weightman-Smith sadly ended in fifth position, yet true to his Hiltonian values, was gracious in defeat and lauded the victory of his fellow South African. George Weightman-Smith is immortalized in the naming of the field where we still hold our Athletics Championships and play cricket. According to our records kept by school historian Bev Davidge, George was the last, and possibly only, Hiltonian to represent South Africa at the Olympics.
Two months from now and 88 years later, Tim Drummond will add to the legendary Olympic narrative by representing the South African Mens' Hockey team at the London Olympics. Unlike George, he will have the benefit of playing on the latest Blue Astroturf, so when you tune in to support Tim and the South African team, spare a thought for George Weightman-Smith, who, if he had been given the benefit of a modern day Tartan track in 1928, would most likely have held the world 110m Mens' Hurdles record and displayed an Olympic Gold Medal on his chest.
Across the English Channel, the preparation is in progress for the world's greatest cycle race "The Tour de France" an epic encounter of the world's most talented cyclists that will deliver excitement, passion and incredible feats of endurance and commitment. Back in the Midlands in the early hours of a cold, blustery Sunday morning that had the mercury hovering just above freezing, another epic endurance cycle event commenced as a band of intrepid adventurers set out quietly from Pietermaritzburg. The tour on farm roads and tracks via Kokstad, Rhodes, the Baviaanskloof and the Karoo will end in 26 days time in Paarl. Amongst this small peloton of amateur cyclists is our Chairman of the Board, Yann LeClezio. He will not experience the media hype and crowd support of the Tour de France but he will achieve a phenomenal personal accomplishment that few ever realize when he arrives in Paarl early next month. We wish him a safe and exhilarating journey.
On the home front, in support of our institutional values which are assuming an increasingly visible and important role, the response to the letter regarding 'Social Concerns' circulated last week has been tremendously encouraging. It is heartening that parents are committing themselves to taking the unpopular decision by not allowing their sons to support social functions such as 'Red-Black'. This will require putting words into action and you have our full support and appreciation for taking the bold step in tandem with the school. Hilton College is adding its weight to ensure that these events do not occur, and that on-going education of our boys is provided to highlight the real dangers involved.
Have a great week!