DIP FIN­ISH

IN­SPI­RA­TIONAL TALE OF VIN­TAGE SPRINTER GOES VI­RAL ON SO­CIAL ME­DIA

Athletics Weekly - - News -

Amaz­ing story from the 1930s brought back to life in touch­ing trib­ute on­line

THE amaz­ing story of Florence Ilott, a 1930s ath­lete who ran across West­min­ster Bridge in Lon­don in record time, has been shared and liked tens of thou­sands of times in the past week.

It even at­tracted the at­ten­tion of Dina Asher-Smith, with the UK 100m and 200m record­holder ask­ing how far and fast Ilott ran.

Orig­i­nally tweeted by Scott Pack, the grand­son of Ilott, the vi­ral post be­gan by say­ing: “I want to tell you about a re­mark­able woman you al­most cer­tainly haven’t heard of.”

He went on to ex­plain that his grand­mother sprinted across the bridge in April 1934 – a dis­tance de­scribed at the time as 1160ft (just over 350m) – be­fore the 12th chime of Big

Ben at mid­day.

As she worked in the House of Com­mons, an MP who knew she was an am­a­teur ath­lete sug­gested she give the chal­lenge a go.

The feat was cov­ered in the me­dia at the time and re­ceived wide cov­er­age but the story has been for­got­ten – un­til now.

Ilott died in 2002 aged 88, but her achieve­ment back in 1934 is en­joy­ing a fresh wave of pub­lic­ity, with Pack’s posts in­clud­ing a num­ber of nos­tal­gic pho­to­graphs and even an old video clip.

“How many sec­onds do they chime for!? And how long is West­min­ster Bridge?” Ash­erSmith tweeted, in­trigued, when she saw the thread.

Don’t bet against some­one or­gan­is­ing for Asher-Smith to have a crack at this ei­ther. In the au­tumn of 1988 Seb Coe donned old-school ath­let­ics gear to beat Steve Cram in a char­ity race around Trin­ity Col­lege at Cam­bridge Univer­sity, as the two su­per­mil­ers recre­ated the clas­sic scene from the film Char­i­ots of Fire.

Florence Ilott: re­mem­bered in touch­ing thread on Twit­ter

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