This film shows the opening march-past of athletes in the Inter-Allied Games held on the outskirts of Paris from 22 June to 6 July 1919. Watch for the cameramen on the left of the frame.
Competitive events were put on in 22 sports, with 1,500 men from 19 countries competing. Look out for the New Zealanders with their distinctive silver fern – and team coach Sergeant EJ Benjamin carries the New Zealand flag.
With a team of 300 competitors, the United States dominated and placed first in 19 of the 22 events. The French, Australians and Canadians all entered sizeable teams. New Zealand contributed five athletes in track and field and an eight, four and single sculler in the rowing. One athlete represented for Guatemala.
New Zealand did well, coming third in the overall rankings in the track and field (United States 92 points, France 12 points, New Zealand 6 points, Australia 5 points). The New Zealand rowing team also did exceptionally well with Darcy Hadfield winning the international single sculls and the fours and eights both gaining third place.
It’s 11 June 1921. In Blenheim, New Zealand the anticipation mounts! Will Dick Arnst defend his world title against challenger Pat Hannan – a champion sculler for the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF)?
The race was big news and had been widely reported in local papers. In response a huge crowd gathered on the banks of the Wairau River, near Blenheim to witness Hannan’s challenge. Arnst had first won the world championship in 1908, then he lost it to Ernest Barry in 1912 and retired from sculling in 1915. But he was back on the scene in 1920. The world title reverted to Arnst by forfeit in 1921 and Hannan was the first to challenge. The papers picked a close race. The excitement was building.
Sadly, though, views of much of the action in this film clip of the race have been obliterated by nitrate decomposition. However, a surprising twist at the end of the film is clear – and well worth the wait!